Image: State Archives & Records NSW

The State Archives and Records NSW has an extensive Archives Collection. In their collection is a volume which may shock present Sydneysiders as it records the presence of Bubonic Plague or the Black Death in Sydney of the early 20th century. It is a volume filled with disease and death.

The Register of Cases of Bubonic Plague 1900-1908 records the names and residences of those suffering from the plague and their fate as to whether they died or recovered from this fearful disease.

By recording all cases of plague, infected areas could be cleansed, contact with the disease isolated, actual cases hospitalised, and systematic inoculation of people living in the infected area undertaken.

This record has now been opened to public access after 110 years and is available for both browsing and searching by name of the Plague victim.

About the records

The Bubonic Plague Register records the following information: date of notification, name, age, where found, place of employement or school, when last employed, notifying doctor, staff medical officer, diagnosis, date of attack, date of inoculation (if done), date of removal, whether the patient died or recovered and date, number of residents in house and number sent to quaratine, number incoulated, occupation of patient, subsequent cases and remarks (usualy about tests, contacts, etc.).

After the 1902 outbreak got under way the items of information in the above list after “date of attack” are generally omitted except in cases of death. In the 1900 section additional information is shown. “Probable place of infection”, “Place of infection undetermined” and “Premises where dead rats were discovered”.

You can browse the register, find out more and view similar documents here.

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