My Scrapbook of My Illness with Polio, 1946–1951

Edna Black and Lassie G. Black

Nina Stoyan-Rosenzweig, contributing editor

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Poliomyelitis, an infectious disease caused by a virus, became epidemic in the United States in the early to mid-20th century. This story, taken from a scrapbook journal, now located in the Smithsonian, is written from the point of view of one child's experience with Polio. Edna Black from Lake City, FL contracted Polio at age six. During a six year period, her mother, Lassie G. Black, kept a diary describing events from the perspective of her daughter, of her experience in various hospitals in Florida and Georgia, to her feelings of pain and isolation. Edna caught polio in 1946, before the height of the epidemic and the introduction of the vaccine. Her story describes how Americans in the 1940s understood and treated Polio, treatment facilities such as President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Warm Springs Institute for Rehabilitation, and the daily therapy, activities, time, and love it took to help a child fight the debilitating disease.   

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