Elmwood To Revisit the “Saffron Scourge”

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Founded in 1852, Memphis’ Elmwood Cemetery (824 S. Dudley) certainly holds its share of Memphis history as the final resting place for more 75,000 individuals — among them, politicians, military leaders, civic leaders, and prominent citizens and their families.

Thousands of victims of the yellow fever epidemics that decimated the city in the 1870s are buried at Elmwood too, and on Tuesday, August 12th, the cemetery will be hosting “Tales from the Plague,” an evening featuring four authors who will discuss their studies of yellow fever in 19th-century Memphis. Those authors are:

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Annie Armour (A Yellow Fever Journal: Bishop T. Quintard’s Account 1878), Molly Caldwell Crosby (The American Plague: The Untold Story of Yellow Fever, the Epidemic That Shaped Our History), Jeanette Keith (Fever Season: The Story of a Terrifying Epidemic and the People Who Saved a City), and Patricia LaPointe MacFarland (From Saddlebags to Science: A Century of Health Care in Memphis, 1830-1930 and Memphis Medicine: A History of Science and Service).

“Tales from the Plague” is a fund-raiser for Elmwood (cost to attend is $25 per person), and you can register online at elmwoodcemetery.org. For more information, call 901-774-3212.

A reception for the authors will take place in the cemetery’s Lord’s Chapel at 5:30 p.m., with the panel discussion beginning at 5:45 p.m. Copies of Molly Caldwell Crosby's The American Plague and Jeanette Keith's Fever Season will also be on sale, with samples of the remaining titles available for audience members to view.

According Kimberly McCollum, Elmwood executive director, “Yellow fever so greatly changed Memphis that it’s hard to tell where its effects begin and end. It left an indelible impact on Memphis. The writers who are participating in this event will tell that story, and it’s a story everyone who lives here should know.”•

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