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ֱ̲ history professor gives guest lecture at the University at Buffalo

Published December 1, 2023

Blackburn

MONROE, LA – ֱ̲ Professor of History Christopher Blackburn, Ph.D. was recently invited by the University at Buffalo to present the annual C.K. Huang Lecture in Medical History. The lecture took place in the Robert L. Brown History of Medicine Collection in the University at Buffalo’s Abbot Library on November 9, 2023. The C.K. Huang Lecture is named in honor of the former director of the UB Health Sciences Library and is offered annually on relevant aspects of medical history.

According to Dr. Blackburn, “It was a tremendous honor to be invited as their annual speaker. It provided a unique opportunity for me to share my research on the history of healthcare and humanitarianism with an engaging and diverse audience of healthcare professionals, historians, and representatives from the local Polish community.”

“It was a great honor for Dr. Blackburn to be invited to speak at the University at Buffalo and reflects well on ֱ̲, the School of Humanities, and the History Program,” said Dr. Jeffrey Anderson, Associate Director of the School of Humanities and History Program Coordinator at ֱ̲.

On this occasion, Dr. Blackburn’s presentation, Weaponizing Disease: Typhus during the Polish-Bolshevik War, coincided with the opening of a new archival exhibit—Praxeda I. Fronczak: A Red Cross Nurse in Poland (1919-1921). The Fronczak Exhibit highlights Praxeda’s training and deployment as an American Red Cross nurse from Buffalo, New York to the eastern front of the Polish-Bolshevik War. The exhibit demonstrates the invaluable humanitarian aid, nursing, and nursing education she provided to the Polish people, soldiers, and refugees throughout the war. Professor Blackburn’s presentation brought a broader understanding of the exhibit by focusing on the disastrous typhus epidemic sweeping across the Polish lands with the Soviet invasion of 1920. A crisis made worse as the Red Army worked to spread disease and exacerbate the public health crisis throughout Poland and its borderlands during the war. The lecture drew heavily on research from Blackburn’s 2021 article in the Polish journal Przegląd Historyczno-Wojskowy--When Typhus Rode a Red Horse: Weaponizing Disease During the Polish-Bolshevik War.

According to Dr. Keith Mages, Curator of the History of Medicine Collection, Dr. Blackburn’s work on disease in post-World War I Poland is “fascinating” and “extremely interesting to our constituents.” His “talk, of course, complements this exhibit wonderfully!” stated Mages.

Professor Blackburn is currently working on a history of the creation and maintenance of an independent Polish Army at Niagara-On- The-Lake, Ontario during the First World War.