Program or Course
HIS-690 (Mid-Semester Trip to Montgomery Alabama)
Academic Level at Time of Creation
Date of Creation
In the 1930’s there was growing concerns over a disease known as syphilis. With 300,000 new cases each year, coupled with the disease’s ability to create blindness, arthritis, heart disease and instances of premature death, the search for a way to stop the epidemic quickly was expanding. With such numbers the United States Department of Health needed answers fast (DiIanni 1993).
At this time, the United States was in an economic crisis left by the Great Depression. As a result, the U.S. Department of Health needed to find cheap test subjects in an effort to combat syphilis and prevent its spread across the country. Since there were no set laws to inform patients they were being treated as research subjects, the U.S. Department of Health turned toward populations where the disease was most prevalent and the people the most impoverished (DiIanni 1993).
They turned toward the negro population in Macon County, Alabama where the disease was present in 35% of the population. This area was also very poor, with most residents being tenant farmers or share croppers for southern white landowners. Under these conditions, some doctors and researchers felt this area created an ideal laboratory for studying the disease (DiIanni 1993). This quest, by the United States Department of Health, gave birth to what will forever be known as the Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male.
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Valentine, Austin, "A Look Into the Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male in Macon County, Alabama" (2019). Student Scholarship & Creative Works. 9.