Visionary: Lady Mary Wortley Montagu.
Jean-Étienne Liotard/Wikimedia Commons
Wortley Montagu popularised the Turkish practice of ‘variolation’, kickstarting the global battle against smallpox.
As a printer’s apprentice in 1721, Franklin had a front-row seat to the controversy around a new prevention technique.
ClassicStock/Archive Photos via Getty Images
When Bostonians in 1721 faced a deadly smallpox outbreak, a new procedure called inoculation was found to help fend off the disease. Not everyone was won over, and newspapers fed the controversy.
Today smallpox can only be found in deep freeze inside a few highly secured laboratories, like this one at the CDC in 1980.
The smallpox virus appears to have been with humanity for millennia before a global vaccination drive wiped it out. Current genome research suggests how smallpox spread and where it came from.
A doctor inspects the growth of cowpox on a milking maid.
Edward Jenner deliberately infected a young boy with cowpox and then smallpox. But his method wasn’t as mad as is often made out.