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July 23 , 2010

Typhoid Mary, The Story of Mary Mallon: Educational Version


Ask most adults who Typhoid Mary was, and they'll tell you a lie. They'll tell you she was someone who killed hundreds of people. Maybe even thousands. They'll tell you she was a woman who knew she had a deadly disease and didn't care that she spread it to others. But is it true? No. Most of it is not true. Here is Mary's story.

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Read about her early beginnings as a 15-year-old girl who traveled alone from Ireland to New York. There she had to find a job, so she began work as a servant. After several years she worked her way up to being a cook, and people said she was a great cook. Mary had no trouble finding jobs, until the families she worked for started catching typhoid.

Suddenly Mary was arrested and sent to an island. There she was tied to a hospital bed and forced to give samples of her blood, urine and feces for the doctors to test on. She was being used to test all kinds of drugs.

Finally one of the newspapers took her side, along with many people. The Health Department decided that if Mary agreed not to cook for people, they would set her free.

Mary agreed. She got a job working in a laundry, but it was hard work and didn't pay enough. Mary was cold and starving. She also believed she had never had typhoid and that she was simply chosen by the Health Department to run tests on because she was all alone in America. No one would fight for her. So Mary decided to fight for herself. She changed her name and went back to work as a cook.

Find out what happens when typhoid shows up at Mary's new job and the Health Department is called in again!

Educational versions have Common Core Curriculum activities.

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