Mad Cows and Caricatures

By Lisa O’Sullivan, Director

Image of monster being fed infants and excreting them with horns.

Charles Williams caricature c.1802.

This early anti-vaccination caricature shows a monster being fed baskets of infants and excreting them with horns. In the background, four prominent anti-vaccine campaigners, Benjamin Moseley, Robert Squirrell, William Woodville and William Rowley, approach with “swords of truth”. This unusual colored version of the print was originally bound as a frontispiece to the 3rd edition of William Rowley’s 1805 Cow-pox inoculation no security against small-pox infection: with above 500 proofs of failure. One of Rowley’s “above 500 proofs of failure” was the case of a boy whose face, Rowley claimed, was assuming the character of a cow.

Vaccination Williams detail

Horned baby

Next week we look forward to welcoming Mark Largent to explore more recent controversies about childhood vaccination as part of our history of medicine series. Register for this free October 17 event here.