Staten Island Marine Hospital Quarantine: A Case Study in the Shaping of New York Public Health Policy

Authors: Amanda Weber*, Oklahoma State University
Topics: Cultural Geography, Historical Geography, Medical and Health Geography
Keywords: Health, Disease, Process Tracing, Quarantine Landscape
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Lincoln 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The Staten Island Marine Hospital Quarantine predecessor to Hoffman, Swinburne, and Ellis Islands, its function - disease control in the nineteenth century. A critical examination of records of the Castleton Board of Health and of other nineteenth-century sources reveals that the motivations for public health activity were disease prevention and social order. Through the examination of the Board’s work and the events of the burning of the Staten Island Marine Hospital quarantine, its legacy, as well as, the severe problems posed by diseases of the late nineteenth-century, this study illustrates the links and causal mechanisms among cultural values, social circumstances, scientific knowledge, and public health policy. This study employs process tracing - similar to other experiential evidence, observable connections lead to the concept of causation as a series of processes, processes for which one phenomenon, the cause, leads to another phenomenon, the effect. Through process tracing, I examine the cause and effect phenomena leading to what has been termed the 'War on Quarantine' and the result of changing public health policy in New York. Through this study, themes such as quality of life and prosperity of place emerge. These themes embody the concepts of human rights, which were hindered in the nineteenth century, triggering a series of events leading to changes in authority/power over health and disease control in New York.

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