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Disease and DiscriminationPoverty and Pestilence in Colonial Atlantic America$
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Dale L. Hutchinson

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780813062693

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813062693.001.0001

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Poverty and Pestilence beyond the Big House

Poverty and Pestilence beyond the Big House

(p.123) 8 Poverty and Pestilence beyond the Big House
Disease and Discrimination

Dale L. Hutchinson

University Press of Florida

Those working in the fields—European indentured servants, women and children, African and Indian slaves—had increased health risks due to their working environment. As adults, they faced malnutrition and increased infectious disease. As children, those same challenges resulted in deficient growth and development that impacted later adult health. One of the ways that we can bridge the gap between documents and drudgery is by examining the skeletons and teeth of folks who lived then. Analysis of the bones of indentured servants and slaves from plantations provides a lot of information about their quality of life, and about the health issues colonial folks faced. Their skeletons help to verify the historic records, or clarify them, and they help to fill in the gaps when there are no historic records. Most indicate that physical stresses were common for both men and women. Muscle and tendon attachment sites that are excessively large (hypertrophic) suggest that most laborers, men and women, experienced muscle stress on a daily basis. Arthritis of the bones and cartilage (osteoarthritis) was generally common among laborers, and it occurred at quite a young age, certainly by the 20–30-year age range.

Keywords:   Malnutrition, Slaves, Indentured servants, Growth and development

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