Online Exhibits@Yale

The Kind of “Assisted Emigrant” We Can Not Afford to Admit

The Kind of “Assisted Emigrant” We Can Not Afford to Admit

The Kind of “Assisted Emigrant” We Can Not Afford to Admit, Friedrich Graetz U.S.A., b. Austria, 1840-1913, Published in Puck July 18, 1883, Gift of Beate Caspari-Rosen, 1979, collection of George Rosen

This 10 year old boy who migrated to the United States from Bora Bora earlier this week presented with severe watery diarrhea. No translator was available. On exam, he had dry mucous membranes, tachycardia, and hypovolemia. He is currently in an isolation room pending further infectious disease evaluation. 

With its flagrant use of imagery and heavy handed presentation of health-related themes, this print captures the hysteria that surrounded the last cholera outbreak of the 19th century. Garbed in Turkish attire, wielding a scythe, sporting a skeletal physique, and perhaps most outrageously, girded in a belt labeled “cholera,” the figure in the print’s center is an obvious emissary of foreign death. Graetz captures the extent of public fear through the battery of carbolic acid (a popular disinfectant at the time) cannons in the background and line of outraged men wading out to intercept the immigrant’s ship before it makes landfall.

The Kind of “Assisted Emigrant” We Can Not Afford to Admit