Man and microbes have always co-habited, and their relationship has had a profound influence on human history—especially in cities, the crossroads of the movements of people, goods, and germs. Marking the centenary of the 1918 Influenza Pandemic, the Museum of the City of New York in collaboration with The New York Academy of Medicine and the Wellcome Trust organized the exhibition Germ City: Microbes and the Metropolis. Germ City reveals how our understanding of disease has changed us physically, socially, economically, and culturally, and the interplay between people and pathogens in an urban context.

Support Germ City

An adoption of an item used in the Germ City exhibition helps ensure the care of and access to these materials. Theme collection items are available for multiple adoptions. When you contribute towards the preservation of these items, you join a family of adopters supporting epidemic preparedness. Some of our items from the exhibition are showcased below:

Sanitary and Social Chart of the  4th Ward of the City of New York. c. 1865

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Created by the Citizen's Association of New York, the map confronts hygiene and sanitation issues in the city in an effort to stem rampant disease like smallpox and typhoid. The Fourth Ward depicted here is today's Financial District.

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Adoption Price: $ 150.00

Fleming Penicillin Medallion, 1946

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Alexander Fleming penicillin medallion, presented to actress Ruth Draper at St. Mary's Hospital in London on November 28, 1946.

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Adoption Price: $ 150.00

Diphtheria Signatures Presentation Book, 1933

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This book of signatures of Bronx schoolchildren immunized for diphtheria is a presentation copy from Morris High School given to Dr. Shirley Wynne,  Commissioner of Health of the City of New York, as a token of thanks and appreciation in 1933.

 

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Adoption Price: $ 150.00

Blue Sputum Flask

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In the 19th century, the prevailing theory was that tuberculosis was spread by the phlegm coughed up by affected people. Instead of spitting in public places, they were advised to carry pocket cups or glass flasks, like this one from our collections. Glass flasks of the collected sputum were rinsed with a solution of lye and boiled for reuse. 

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Adoption Price: $ 150.00

Letter from Mary Putnam Jacobi to Sophie Boaz, February 27, 1884

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In summer 1883, seven-year-old Ernst Jacobi died of diphtheria. His father was Abraham Jacobi, the "father of pediatrics," and a known expert on the disease. His mother, Mary Putnam Jacobi was a physician, writer, suffragist, and the first woman admitted as a Fellow of the New York Academy of Medicine. Less than a year after Ernst's death, Mary wrote to friends that "It seemed very hard to go on doing the same things after Ernst was gone."

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Adoption Price: $ 150.00

Routes of Asiatic Cholera map, 1885.

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New York physician John C. Peters produced several informative maps showing the movement of cholera across the globe. This map, originally published in 1873, tracks the path of cholera from its origins at the mouth of the Ganges to Europe and on to the Americas. 

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Adoption Price: $ 150.00

'Protect your child from diphtheria (Spanish)' 

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'Protect your child from diphtheria (Spanish)' pamphlet, N.Y. Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. 1929.

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Adoption Price: $ 150.00

 

'Protect your child from diphtheria (Yiddish)' 

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'Protect your child from diphtheria (Yiddish)' pamphlet, N.Y. Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. 1929.

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Adoption Price: $ 150.00

 

Other items in Germ City from our collections include:

Harlem Hospital Bulletin, September 1953.

Order for the Hospitalization for Mary Riley, 1854.

O'Dwyer's Intubation Set, ca. 1899.

The Quarantine Sketches, The Maltine Company. ca. 1903.

Report of pestilential diseases and insalubrious quarters, Citizens' Association of New York. 1864. 

Sea View Hospital, Staten Island N.Y., postcard, postmarked 1952.

Royal Hospital, 2021 Grand Concourse, Bronx, N.Y., postcard, n.d.
 
Brooklyn Thoracic Hospital, postcard, postmarked 1947.
 
U.S. Immigration Station, Ellis Island, New York Aeorplane View, postcard, n.d.
 
City Hospital, Blackwell's Island, N.Y., postcard, postmarked 1929.
 
Long Island Hospital and Grounds, postcard, postmarked 1916.
 

Support Germ City

Please note: multiple people are able to adopt items in the Germ City: Microbes and the Metropolis collection.