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Plague and Fire – Battling Black Death and the 1900 Burning of Honolulu's Chinatown - Oxford Scholarship Online
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Plague and Fire: Battling Black Death and the 1900 Burning of Honolulu's Chinatown

James C. Mohr


The bubonic plague reached Hawaii for the first time in 1899, just as the archipelago was being annexed by the US. To deal with the epidemic, governmental authorities granted absolute emergency powers to the Honolulu Board of Health. Committed to the new science of bacteriology, the Board physicians eventually decided to burn buildings where victims had died, hoping thereby to destroy any remaining plague bacilli. On January 20, 1900, one of those controlled burns burgeoned into a larger inferno that obliterated the Chinatown section of the city. In a few hours, over 5,000 people lost everythi ... More

Keywords: medical history, public health, bubonic plague, epidemic, Hawaii, bacteriology, detention camps, American imperialism, ethnic studies

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2004 Print ISBN-13: 9780195162318
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007 DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195162318.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

James C. Mohr, author
University of Oregon
Author Webpage