Journal of the Indiana Academy of the Social Sciences

Document Type



This article will explore the ways in which compulsory vaccination was resisted or protested in Muncie, Indiana, during an outbreak of smallpox in that city in the summer and fall of 1893. It will examine previous analyses of anti-vaccination sentiment at the end of the nineteenth century, discuss the actions taken in Muncie to prevent the spread of smallpox, and describe the ways in which Muncie citizens resisted compulsory vaccination. This article will also trace the spread of anti-vaccinationist sentiment across the state and outline the arguments used for and against compulsory vaccination. It is the author's contention that resistance to compulsory vaccination at the turn of the century did not necessarily stem from ignorance or foolishness but from genuine, legitimate concerns regarding the safety of vaccination and the authority of the state to compel its citizens to undergo the procedure.