Welcome to Christ Church Burial Ground!
Lesson One: Introduction
Follow the attached lesson to learn about one of America’s most historic graveyards.
Click here: Christ Church Burial Ground Lesson
Use this Google Forms link to record and submit your answers! When you share your email, we will send you weekly virtual experiences, including new lessons, social media games and selected podcasts.
Lesson Two: Yellow Fever 1793
Learn about the plague that led to panic over 200 years ago and consider its lessons for today.
This lesson uses an audio walking and historic tour of Old City (created and produced by WHYY’s the pulse) to review the epidemic that defined much of Philadelphia’s public health history.
Hiker icons on the Google Map below highlight each stop on the tour. Click on each before you begin listening to get a visual preview.
Our questions — prepared by the Christ Church Tourism & Education program — also pull from letters of the Founding Fathers and various texts, including what is arguably the first publication penned by African Americans. Record your answers here on this Google Forms sheet! Every complete submission receives a $2 discount for future Christ Church admission.
Tip: Read the questions for each section BEFORE you listen to the corresponding part of the audio tour.
Introduction (Length – 2:28)
- What are two connections you can make between the COVID-19 pandemic today and the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793? Include a piece of information published in this easy-to-read snapshot of COVID-19 published by the Center for Disease Control.
Stop One: Elfreth’s Alley (Length – 3:35)
2. How would life on Elfreth’s Alley, a street designed for a maritime economy, have contributed to the spread of yellow fever?
Stop Two: Dock Street(Length – 5:28)
3. How does Dock Street look different today than it did in the late 18th century?
4. Open this letter from Thomas Jefferson to James Madison and read only the first half of the second paragraph.What was one of the symptoms of yellow fever found in this letter?
Stop Three: Rush’s House (Length – 6:01)
5. How did media coverage of the yellow fever resemble today’s coverage of COVID-19?
6. Read this letter from President George Washington to Alexander Hamilton. Pay particular attention to the footnote. Why would Alexander Hamilton have been particularly concerned about Dr. Rush’s controversial theories?
Stop Four: Mother Bethel (Length – 6:37)
7. What role did the Free African Society play in the story of the 1793 plague?
8. Reverend Mark Tyler says that Absalom Jones and Richard Allen laid the foundation for the later Civil Rights movement. What is one reason why?
Stop Five: Christ Church Burial Ground (Length – 5:54)
9. What number appears on so many of the grave markers?
10. Historian David Barnes says that the REAL cause of the 1793 epidemic would have been ridiculed in its time. Why?
11. Discussion Question — Answer one of the three questions below. We may include your thoughts in our future podcast series!
Read this interview with historian Stephen Fried, who wrote Revolution, Madness, and the Visionary Doctor Who Became a Founding Father. Using one example from the audio tour and one from this interview, argue whether or not Benjamin Rush should be considered a hero.
Richard Allen and Absalom Jones
In the Mother Bethel section of the audio tour, Reverend Tyler talks about a pamphlet written by Matthew Carey that spread racist rumors surrounding yellow fever. Following that publication, Richard Allen and Absalom Jones wrote a pamphlet exposing Carey’s charges as false. Skim through both publications (linked above) and perhaps listen to the Mother Bethel audio again. What connection can you make between racism in 1793 and intolerance today? Use two specific examples — one from the 18th century and one from today — in your answer.
In the Christ Church Burial Ground section of the audio tour, public health historian Michael Yuddell talks about changes that occurred in the aftermath of the yellow fever epidemic that help to protect public health today. Read this short piece about the Fairmount Water Works. How did the yellow fever epidemic ultimately improve public health in Philadelphia? Use an example from the audio tour and one from the article in your answer. How might public health improve in the years following this COVID-19 outbreak?