More than 100 years ago, there was little understanding of the concept of invisible dangers like germs. The story of Mary Mallon, better known as Typhoid Mary, was passed off as one of intentional harm, when in reality she didn’t believe she was a danger to anyone.
Mary emigrated from Ireland to New York City, was hired as household staff and found a specialty in cooking. From 1897 to 1907, 24 people in households where she worked developed typhoid fever, and one died. Later, 25 people developed the illness after consuming her cooking. Dr. George Soper, sanitary engineer for the United States Army Sanitary Corps, began investigating the outbreak at Mary’s last house of employment and then Mary herself as a healthy carrier of typhoid. Mary was held against her will at Riverside Hospital on North Brother Island in New York’s East River, and the story only gets darker from there.
Susan Campbell Bartoletti’s extensive research, complete with photographs and illustrations from the early 1900s, brings little-known facts to light and this fascinating tale to life. Terrible Typhoid Mary provides insight and understanding for a woman previously portrayed as a villain.