Start My Family Tree Welcome to Geni, home of the world's largest family tree.
Join Geni to explore your genealogy and family history in the World's Largest Family Tree.

People who survived Smallpox

« Back to Projects Dashboard

view all



This project is for those who SURVIVED Smallpox.

If they died of Smallpox, add to the Died of smallpox project.

Be sure to list or include any complications that may have resulted in the person’s About section. These are possible complications: pitted scaring (most frequently on the face), blindness caused by corneal ulcers and scaring or any other eye related problems, deformities resulting from arthritis & osteomyelitis. (Lesions occurred in 2-5% of children who had swollen joints or bones & involved the elbows, tibia & fibula. Swollen joints limit movement, and arthritis may lead to limb deformities, ankylosis (stiffness of joint), and malformed bones, flail joints, and stubby fingers).

Alternat Names: the “pox”, red plague, smallpox, alastrim, cottonpox, milkpox, whitepox, Cuban itch, Variola minor

Smallpox is a serious, contagious, and sometimes fatal infectious disease. Smallpox was an infectious disease caused by either of two virus variants, Variola major and Variola minor. There is no specific treatment for smallpox disease, and the only prevention is vaccination. The pox part of smallpox is derived from the Latin word Variola vera, derived from varius ("spotted") or varus ("pimple") and refers to the raised bumps that appear on the face and body of an infected person. The disease was originally known in English as the "pox"[2] or "red plague"; the term "smallpox" was first used in Britain in the 15th century to distinguish variola from the "great pox" (syphilis). Variola minor is a less common presentation of smallpox, and a much less severe disease, with death rates historically of 1% or less. Infection with smallpox is focused in small blood vessels of the skin and in the mouth and throat before disseminating. In the skin it results in a characteristic maculopapular (elevated purple spottty) rash and, later, raised fluid-filled blisters. V. major produced a more serious disease and had an overall mortality rate of 30–35 percent. V. minor caused a milder form of disease (also known as alastrim, cottonpox, milkpox, whitepox, and Cuban itch) which killed about 1 percent of its victims. Long-term complications of V. major infection included characteristic scars, commonly on the face, which occur in 65–85 percent of survivors. Blindness resulting from corneal ulceration and scarring, and limb deformities due to arthritis and osteomyelitis were less common complications, seen in about 2–5 percent of cases. In the 1950s about 50 million people worldwide wee infected yearly. After vaccination campaigns throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, the WHO certified the eradication of smallpox in 1979.[5] Smallpox is one of two infectious diseases to have been eradicated, the other being rinderpest, which was declared eradicated in 2011.

Chickenpox was commonly confused with smallpox in the immediate post-eradication era. Chickenpox and smallpox can be distinguished by several methods. Unlike smallpox, chickenpox does not usually affect the palms and soles. Additionally, chickenpox pustules are of varying size due to variations in the timing of pustule eruption: smallpox pustules are all very nearly the same size since the viral effect progresses more uniformly. A variety of laboratory methods are available for detecting chickenpox in evaluation of suspected smallpox cases.

People who SURVIVED Smallpox:

  • U.S. Presidents George Washington, Andrew Jackson, and Abraham Lincoln all contracted and recovered from the disease.
    • Washington became infected with smallpox on a visit to Barbados in 1751.
    • Jackson developed the illness after being taken prisoner by the British during the American Revolution, and though he recovered, his brother Robert did not.
    • Lincoln contracted the disease during his Presidency, possibly from his son Tad, and was quarantined shortly after giving the Gettysburg address in 1863.
  • Soviet leader Joseph Stalin fell ill with smallpox at the age of seven. His face was badly scarred by the disease. He later had photographs retouched to make his pockmarks less apparent.
  • Hungarian poet Ferenc Kölcsey, who wrote the Hungarian national anthem, lost his right eye to smallpox.
  • John Adair During the British victory over the Colonists at the August 16, 1780, Battle of Camden, Adair was taken as a prisoner of war. He contracted smallpox and was treated harshly by his captors during his months-long imprisonment. Although he escaped at one point, Adair was unable to reach safety because of difficulties related to his smallpox infection and was recaptured by British Colonel Banastre Tarleton after just three days. Subsequently, he was released via a prisoner exchange.
  • Anne of Cleves On 4 November 1677, Anne's elder sister, Mary, married their Dutch first cousin, William of Orange, at St James's Palace, but Anne could not attend the wedding because she was confined to her room with smallpox.
  • Ludwig van Beethoven His face was scarred from smallpox he had contracted as a child. He had a deep cleft on his chin, and a dark complexion.
  • Louise Élisabeth de Bourbon In August 1716, at the age of twenty-two, Louise Élisabeth contracted smallpox from her husband whom she had been nursing through his illness.
  • Marie Anne de Bourbon In 1685, her husband contracted smallpox from Marie Anne. Although she recovered, he succumbed after five days.
  • HRH Princess Charlotte Aglaé of France, Mademoiselle de Blois III, Mademoiselle de Valois In September 1720, Charlotte Aglaé caught smallpox and, according to her grandmother, the last sacrements were administered. She called her French confessor, Colibeaux, to her bedside, and, handing him a casket, directed him to secretly burn all the papers which it contained. Probably among these papers were the love-letters which she had received from the Duke of Richelieu. During this illness, her husband was forbidden to see her; he stayed at his villa at Sassuolo until she recovered.
  • Charles of Spain, III En route to Florence from Pisa, Charles was taken ill with smallpox.
  • Anne Marie d'Orleans, Queen consort of Sardinia Mademoiselle caught smallpox, but survived the illness.
  • Elizabeth I of England In 1563, Elizabeth told an imperial envoy: "If I follow the inclination of my nature, it is this: beggar-woman and single, far rather than queen and married". Later in the year, following Elizabeth's illness with smallpox, the suc cession question became a heated issue in Parliament.
  • Elisabeth Charlotte von Bayern, duchesse d'Orléans Three of her children died within a week in May 1711 due to a smallpox outbreak at the Château de Lunéville, the country seat of the Duke's of Lorraine.
  • Isabel de Farnesio, reina consorte de España She survived a virulent attack of smallpox shortly after the War of the Spanish Succession.
  • Louis XIII le Juste, roi de France et Navarre Like Louis XIII, he catches smallpox, and his mother shows her anxiety. She writes to Mme de Montglat: “Doubtless this illness must follow its course and I have hope that the child will soon be cured”. She tells her to bring “all the care and assistance which can be brought” to this end.
  • Louis Armand II de Bourbon, prince de Conti In August 1716, Louis Armand caught Smallpox; it was Louise Élisabeth who would nurse him until his recovery. Louise Élisabeth later caught the illness herself but survived the disease.
  • Louise Françoise de Bourbon Some time after her marriage in 1686, while the court was in residence at the Palace of Fontainebleau, Louise Françoise contracted smallpox.
  • Marguerite Louise d'Orléans The delicate rapprochement that existed between Marguerite Louise and the rest of the family collapsed after Anna Maria Luisa's birth, in 1667, when she caught smallpox.
  • Maria Amalia of Saxony Unfortunately, she contracted, but survived, smallpox.
  • Mary I, Queen of Scots At some point in her infancy or childhood, she caught smallpox, but it did not mark her features.
  • Philippe I de Bourbon, duc d'Orléans In the autumn of 1647, at age seven, Philippe caught smallpox, but recovered and convalesced at the Palais-Royal.
  • Joseph Stalin At age 7, he contracted smallpox, leaving his face scarred.

jump back to Epidemics

this project is in HistoryLink