“Fever 1793” Early American History Webquest for Middle School Students

Fever 1793 Webquest


Only 12 years after winning the war for independence and six years after adopting the Constitution, the United States faced a serious domestic threat when, in July 1793, a yellow fever epidemic struck Philadelphia. The city was serving as the temporary home to the government, so the threat’s affect was broader than the city itself. In Fever 1793, Laurie Halse Anderson provides a fictional look at what it might have been like to experience the fear and danger of the epidemic.


With your team, you will produce two documents. The first will be a newspaper that might have been published during the height of the epidemic, had the presses been able to run. You should include news articles about the statistics of the epidemic (deaths, etc.), features on the symptoms and treatments for the disease, and interview and features about the assistance provided by the Free African American Society.

The second document your team will create is a brochure for modern readers. In it, you should again include information about the symptoms of the disease, along with recommendations for avoiding contagion. One section of your brochure should make recommendations for a citywide approach to preventing the spread of yellow fever, as well as procedures for handling a large-scale epidemic. Include the answers to questions such as how the sick should be handled if the hospitals are overwhelmed, how deaths and burials should be handled, when and how evacuations should be considered, and how to prevent the spread to other areas of the country and world.


Use the website below as references for your research. You should find everything that you need on these sites; however, if you decide to look further, check with your teacher to be sure that your new sources are authoritative and reliable.

Your newspaper should be set up in columns, just as a “real” newspaper would be. Each story should include an appropriate headline, which should have both a subject and a verb in it. Any graphics used should include a caption; if your team does not create the graphic, add a credit citation, as well. For example, if you use a picture found on the Internet, at the end of the caption, add a statement like “Photo courtesy of xx,” where “xx” is the name of the photographer. (If you cannot include the photographer’s name, substitute the URL of the website where you got the picture.)

For both the newspaper and the brochure, use visually appealing designs. Use an easy-to-read font, such as Times New Roman, in at least 12-point size. Do not crowd the information on the page; make effective use of white space to guide the readers’ eyes and emphasize certain headlines or stories. It is your team’s choice whether to justify both margins (make them line up evenly).

Be sure to proofread your materials carefully to avoid grammar, spelling and syntax errors. Check the grading rubric to be sure you have met all of the project requirements.


Eyewitness to History: Yellow Fever Attacks Philadelphia, 1793

Contagion: The Yellow Fever Epidemic in Philadelphia, 1793

World Health Organization: Yellow Fever

Yellow Fever: Symptoms, Cause, Prevention, and Treatment