Program or Course

HIS-690 (Mid-Semester Trip to Montgomery Alabama)



Academic Level at Time of Creation




Date of Creation

Spring 4-21-2019


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.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.