I spent the majority of my summer reading through books from Perkins and Bostock’s
collection regarding public health and cholera in Victorian Britain. My thesis covers the public
health response to the 1832 cholera epidemic in Sunderland, England. This was the first town in
the United Kingdom to endure a cholera outbreak, and the lack of knowledge and experience led
to large movements of resistance and denial. I chose this topic because I thought this was an
interesting case of pandemic denial that would help inform future public health efforts against
new epidemiological threats.
Over the summer, I was able to get a good amount of foundational research done by
checking out and reading through a number of print sources while meeting regularly with my
thesis advisor. Having access to Duke’s extensive libraries and the on-campus support was a
huge help in moving through my sources efficiently and freely. With the wide range of books and
consistent feedback for direction, I completed a good amount of my background work over the
month of July.
This research was essential in kickstarting my thesis research, as I was able to enter the
school year with a clearer idea of where my thesis was going and where to go next. It was
difficult getting started, as there is an overwhelming amount to sort through, so I am especially
grateful I had the opportunity to focus on it without distractions. As I enter the thesis seminar this
school year, I am now in a position to fill in the gaps and write without worrying as much about
how it will all come together. I am super grateful for Duke’s support of my research, especially
since humanities research is typically undervalued and underpaid.