New York State Department of Health Division of Communicable Diseases Smallpox Case Report Cards

Held by the New York State Archives

Overview of the Records


New York State Archives

New York State Education Department

Cultural Education Center

Albany, NY 12230

Physicians across the state were required to report each case of designated communicable diseases to the State Department of Health. This series contains data on smallpox victims. Personal data includes patient's name; age; sex; color/race; marital status; country of mother's birth; and address. Medical data includes first symptom date; date reported; last successful vaccination date; site where infection occurred; reporting physician's signature; changes in diagnosis; vaccination response; declarations of small pox and rescindments of smallpox certifications. Records are restricted pursuant to state and federal laws.
1 cubic foot (approximately 3,660 cards) (3 microfilm rolls)
Inclusive Dates:
Bulk Dates:
(bulk 1922-1939)
Series Number:


Chronological by year, then chronological by date received by the division. Declarations and certifications of contagion are chronological by year, and therein by county and/or locality and then by declaration date.

Administrative History

Section 25 of the Public Health Law (Chapter 45 of the Consolidated Laws, formerly Chapter 49 of the Laws of 1909) established procedures to report infectious, contagious, or communicable diseases through physicians, local boards of health, and the Health Department. Under provisions of this section the commissioner of health was authorized to quarantine individuals exposed to disease under conditions which would permit its communication. The mere possibility of exposure to the disease, or a refusal to be vaccinated, was not sufficient grounds for quarantine.

Scope and Content Note

The series consists of pre-printed cards (approximately 3.5" x 6") that record, in manuscript, personal and medical data on victims of smallpox. The card files represent approximately 3,600 cases of smallpox reported to the Health Department from throughout the state.

All physicians were required to report each outbreak of communicable diseases legally designated as public health concerns to the Division of Communicable Diseases, which used the information for epidemiological investigations, statistical analysis and reporting, and planning.

Personal data recorded in the smallpox case report cards consists of: the patient's name; age; sex; color/race/;marital status; country of mother's birth; street address; city; and county.

Medical data includes: date of first symptoms; date reported; date of last successful vaccination; site where infection occurred and whether it was a dairy or dairy farm; the reporting physician's signature; and local district health officer's signature.

Each card is stamped and sometimes annotated in pencil, as to the date received by the Division of Communicable Diseases. Attachments to some cards include notes about changes in diagnosis, report duplication, vaccination history, and (in a very few cases only) the victim's response to vaccination and vaccination of other family members.

A set of cards at the end of the series records declarations of smallpox contagion by the commissioner of health and rescindments of smallpox certifications from 1925-1939. The "Declarations By Commissioner" list date; place; county; date declared; and date lifted. The "Smallpox Certifications" list county; date; place; date certified; date certification lifted; and number of cases (often blank).

Use of Records

Access Restrictions

Restricted by New York Public Health Law sect. 18 and New York Code of Rules and Regulations part 10, sect. 50-4; by New York Freedom of Information Law (Public Officers Law Art. 6) sect. 87.2(b); by New York Personal Privacy Protection Law (Public Officers Law Art. 6-A) sect. 96; and by the U.S. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Acct (HIPAA), 42 U.S. Code sect. 1320d-6, and -7.

Alternate Formats Available

This series has been microfilmed on 3 rolls. Microfilm is not available through inter-library loan.

Related Information

Other finding aids

Container list and microfilm roll list are available at the repository.

Access Terms

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