The items in this online exhibition evoke the stories of American women through the ages.
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Vials of smallpox vaccine, ca. 1969–1970

Photo by Kevin Grady/Radcliffe Institute

Photo by Kevin Grady/Radcliffe Institute


These tiny vials of desiccated vaccine were central to the massive and ultimately successful effort launched by the World Health Organization in the mid-1960s to eradicate the scourge of smallpox from the world. At the vanguard of the campaign was a remarkable group of women Peace Corps volunteers, who traveled from house to house in remote areas of Afghanistan in 1969 and 1970 vaccinating women and girls who could not be seen—much less touched—by men outside their families.

Collection on Women Peace Corps Volunteers in Afghanistan’s Smallpox Eradication Program

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Learn how the Schlesinger Library came to acquire this collection in "Women Vaccinating Against Smallpox in Afghanistan."

Heather Min