Vaccination and Its Critics
A Documentary and Reference Guide
by Lisa Rosner
February 2017, 311pp, 8 1/2x11
1 volume, Greenwood

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-4183-5
$121, £90, 105€, A164
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-4184-2
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Public outcry about vaccines and heated debates about their use began as early as the 1900s.

This authoritative and unbiased narrative—supported by 50 primary source documents—follows the history of vaccination, highlighting essential medical achievements and ongoing controversies.

This timely work provides a comprehensive overview of the scientific breakthrough known as vaccination and the controversy surrounding its opposition. A timeline of discoveries trace the medical and societal progression of vaccines from the early development of this medical preventive to the eradication of epidemics and the present-day discussion about its role in autism. The content presents compelling parallels across different time periods to reflect the ongoing concerns that have persisted throughout history regarding vaccination.

Author Lisa Rosner provides a sweeping overview of the topic, covering the development of modern vaccines and practices, laws governing the distribution of vaccines, patients’ rights, consumer advocacy, and vaccination disasters. Throughout the volume, primary source documents present the perspectives of researchers, public health specialists, physicians, patients, consumer advocates, and government officials, helping to illuminate the past, present, and future of vaccines on a global level.


  • Provides readers with accurate, unbiased accounts of medical breakthroughs and critics
  • Examines vaccination controversies in a historical and global perspective
  • Traces compelling parallels between past anti-vaccination movements and those of the present day
  • Features essential primary documents that highlight historic turning points in vaccine research and implementation
  • Includes the most up-to-date scientific research on vaccines
Lisa Rosner is distinguished professor of history at Stockton University. Her published works include ABC-CLIO's Chronologies of Science: From Stonehenge to the Human Genome Project as well as The Anatomy Murders: Being the True and Spectacular History of Edinburgh's Notorious Burke and Hare and of the Man of Science Who Abetted Them in the Commission of Their Most Heinous Crimes. She is currently developing a 3D digital strategy game, The Pox Hunter, which recreates the early history of smallpox vaccination. Rosner has received awards from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Philosophical Society, and the Chemical Heritage Foundation. She holds a bachelor's degree from Princeton University and a doctorate from Johns Hopkins University.


"This well-written book by historian Rosner offers a selection of historical documents covering the history of vaccination from its earliest manifestations to the present day. . . . Her work is sure to interest history of medicine buffs. Summing Up: Highly recommended. High school through undergraduate students; general readers."—Choice, August 1, 2017

"Vaccination and Its Critics: A Documentary and Reference Guide is a very unique item compared to other books written on vaccines and vaccine injuries. . . . [It] provides the reader with the primary source documents—letters, first-hand accounts of people who have suffered various diseases like polio, newspaper articles, accounts from researchers and more. . . . . I would recommend it as reference material for public libraries and undergraduate students looking to do more research on the topic."—Reference Reviews, January 18, 2018

"Research students seeking information in the area of inoculation history will find this book thorough and compact. . . . This title is recommended for public, school, and academic libraries."—ARBA, June 1, 2018

Documentary and Reference Guides

Expertly chosen primary source documents, analytical commentary, and comprehensive study resources present Americans grappling directly with complex social and political issues in ways that have had a deep and lasting impact on contemporary society.

Students often are unaware that hotly contested public debates have deep historical roots. Intended to allow readers to engage with history and discover the development of controversial social and political issues over time, the Documentary and Reference Guides series introduces such issues through carefully chosen primary source documents.

The documents analyzed in these volumes encourage critical thinking, offering fresh perspectives as they sweep away preconceptions and restore immediacy to debates that may have become stale. They encourage students to explore for themselves how important issues came to be framed as they are and to consider how contemporary discussion might advance beyond the assumptions and hardened positions of the past.


  • 50–100 primary source documents, topically and chronologically organized, including excerpts from legislation, U.S. Supreme Court decisions, manifestos, broadcast statements, such controversial writings as Thomas Paine's pamphlets and excerpts from the Federalist Papers, and personal writings, such as letters
  • 15–25 photographs
  • Accessible analysis sections and lively sidebars illuminating documents that are crucial to the subject, but relatively legalistic or technical
  • A Reader's Guide to the Documents and Sidebars, organized by subject, to enable readers to pursue particular lines of inquiry through more than one chapter
  • A comprehensive, annotated, general resources section supporting student research needs
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