Module 01: Demographic Catastrophe — What Happened to the Native Population After 1492?


Printed Material

James Axtell, After Columbus: Essays in the Ethnohistory of Colonial North America (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988).

-----. Beyond 1492: Encounters in Colonial North America (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992).

Noble David Cook, Born to Die: Disease and New World Conquest, 1492-1650 (Cambridge, NY: Cambridge University Press, 1998).

Colin Calloway, New Worlds for All: Indians, Europeans, and the Remaking of Early America (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997).

Alfred W. Crosby, The Columbian Exchange: Biological and Cultural Consequences of 1492 (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Publishing Co., 1972).

-----. Ecological Imperialism: The Biological Expansion of Europe, 900-1900 (Cambridge, NY: Cambridge University Press, 1986).

Jared Diamond, Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies (New York: W.W. Norton, 1997).

Elizabeth Fenn, "Biological Warfare in Eighteenth-Century North America: Beyond Jeffrey Amherst." Journal of American History 86:4 (March 2000), 1552-1580.

Laurie Garrett, The Coming Plague: Newly Emerging Diseases in a World out of Balance (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1994).

David Jones, "Virgin Soils Revisited." William and Mary Quarterly 60:4 (June 2005), 703-742.

William H. McNeill, Plagues and People (New York: Bantam Doubleday Dell, 1976).

Ann Ramenosky, Vectors of Death: The Archaeology of European Contact (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1987).

John W. Verano and Douglas H. Ubelaker, eds., Disease and Demography in the Americas (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1992).

Herman Viola and Carolyn Margolis, eds., Seeds of Change: A Quincentennial Commemoration (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1991).

Online Resources

Alfred W. Crosby, "The Columbian Exchange: Plants, Animals, and Disease Between the Old and New Worlds," hosted by the National Humanities Center. Brief article with abundant illustrations providing an overview of Crosby's influential argument. Includes the author's suggestions for guiding classroom discussions on the topic. Also includes a list of online resources and a summary of scholarly debate on the Columbian Exchange.

"Columbus and the Age of Discovery," hosted by Millersville University. An online database created by the History Department and Academic Computing Service at Millersville University in Pennsylvania. Provides access to over 1,000 articles related to Columbian exploration and encounters between the Old and New Worlds. Searchable by keyword and grouped by category. Contains many resources generated during the Quincentennial.

Explorations: Columbus & the Columbian Exchange, hosted by Digital History. An online teaching unit focusing on Columbus and the Columbian Exchange designed by professors at the University of Houston. Appropriate for K-12. Contains several teaching activities as well as access to an online American history textbook.

Guns, Germs, and Steel, hosted by PBS. Designed to accompany a National Geographic documentary based on Jared Diamond's Guns, Germ, and Steel. Contains further information on plant, animal, disease, and technological exchange between cultures and continents. Features include an interactive map and lesson plans for middle and secondary school teachers.

National Museum of the American Indian, hosted by The Smithsonian Institute.

Secrets of the Dead: The Syphilis Enigma, hosted by PBS. Brief synopsis of an episode of the historical forensic documentary series. Contains background information, clues and evidence, and an interview with a biological anthropologist studying the origins of the disease.

Mary E. Wilson, "Travel and the Emergence of Infectious Disease." Perspectives 1(2) (April/June 1995). Brief article by a physician at the Harvard School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School. Outlines the continuing impact of the Columbian Exchange in contemporary society. Full text available online.