14 August 2013

Treasure Chest Thursday: Sarah Garber Death Certificate

Children may be difficult to locate in some of the records we use for our genealogical research. Sarah Garber was born to Nathan and Yetta Garber on 25 December 1916 and died of Diptheria on 9 February 1919. Her short life missed being recorded in the 1915 New York State Census and the 1920 United States Federal Census. In fact, I wasn't aware of her existence at all until I'd recorded the grave stones in the First Lubiner Progressive Benevolent Association plots at Montefiore Cemetery, Queens, New York.

New York County, New York, Certificate of Death no. 5897 (9 February 1919), Sarah Garber, New York City Municipal Archives, New York.


Sarah was the third child and third daughter of Nathan and Yetta Garber and their first United States born child. She was about ten years younger than her sisters Ruth and Lillian and and must have been very special to the family. She died of Diphtheria and complications of pneumonia at two years of age. This must have been devastating for the family. 

These days with vaccines and antibiotics, Diphtheria is not the huge health concern it once was. A contagious upper respiratory tract illness, Diphtheria's symptoms include fever, chills, fatigue, bluish skin coloration, sore throat and difficulty breathing. Complications may include damage to the heart and pneumonia. Even today, children under age five who contract the disease have a fatality rate of as much as 20%.

Poor little Sarah lingered for almost ten days in the hospital before she succumbed. This was just a few years before major public health initiatives began in the 1920s. In 1921, two years after Sarah's death, 206,000 Diphtheria cases were recorded in the United States, claiming 15,520 lives. In the early 1920s, William H. Park led a huge successful public health campaign to immunize New York City school children. The campaign included mailers in both Yiddish and Italian targeting the large immigrant populations in the City.

I can imagine the pain relived when the Garbers received that mailer at their home at 232 Madison Street on the Lower East Side. At least by the time their next child, Irving (born in 1920), was ready for school, immunizations were available.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments on posts are always welcome but will be approved before posting. I actually prefer to just let people comment without going through this rigmarole, but I've recently had to delete some posts that I had not vetted before publication. So, please don't be offended. I love to hear from you!