Major Research Project

The topic for the research project is a comparison of the third plague pandemic in San Francisco in the early twentieth century and the current COVID–19 pandemics impact on the city and peoples of Los Angeles. The research project must compare life in Los Angeles in 2020–2021 during the COVID–19 pandemic to life in San Francisco in the early 1900s during the bubonic plague outbreak. Among the topics that these papers must address are: 1) the role that politics (national, state, and local) played in both situations; 2) the public health measures that were enacted in both situations; 3) the tensions between science (public health) and economic forces in both stories; 4) the role that racism played during both pandemics; 5) the influence of socio–economic factors on how peoples lives were affected by the disease outbreak and the states measures to combat it; and 6) the role that individuals play in history (political leaders, public health officials, etc.). Between 1900 and 1904 the city of San Francisco experienced an epidemic of bubonic plague that was largely centered in the citys Chinatown. This outbreak saw local and state political and economic interests intersect with public health efforts, and it stands as one of the most important stories in the development of modern public health services in the United States. Using Marilyn Chases study, The Barbary Plague (2004) (as well as a minimum of six other secondary sources) students will explore the history of the San Francisco plague outbreak (as well as the current COVID–19 pandemic) and utilize a variety of the skills that they have learned in the course.  In addition to Chases The Barbary Plague, students must utilize a minimum of six additional secondary sources on the plague outbreak (and the broader histories of bubonic plague, the third plague pandemic, and the development of public health services in the United States in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries), as well as a few primary archival documents from the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) related to this outbreak and American efforts to deal with the third plague pandemic (these archival documents will be available on the course Canvas page). These research projects must present both an overview of the global plague pandemic and the local story in San Francisco, as well as focus on a more specific aspect of the American story that the students find interesting, and the project must link the lessons we should have learned from the San Francisco plague story to our current handling of the COVID–19 pandemic in the State of California. it can take many forms, for example: a formal essay or report

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