Wikipedia Revision: Anti-Vaccine Riot

For my second Wikipedia revision assignment, I plan to examine and make improvements to the article titled “Vaccine Revolt.” As one might assume from the title, this article concerns itself with a brief but violent popular backlash to a public health campaign waged by the government of Rio de Janeiro. Although the uprising itself was named for the in-home smallpox vaccinations mandated by the mayor immediately preceding the outbreak of violence, it is crucial to understand that this particular program followed a longer array of stringent measures aimed at eliminating the litany of diseases that had plagued the city since it had become drastically more populated in the nineteenth century. One especially disruptive policy was the demolition of old and low-income housing complexes, which left thousands of city residents homeless and potentially served to aggravate class tensions.

I discovered this article while searching for material relating to positivism in Brazil, an effort which merely uncovered several sources with which the concept had a degree of overlap. Once I learned of the 1904 Vaccine Revolt through these texts, I became intrigued; for the topic of political street violence in general has long interested me, and this event is one sufficiently obscure for me to assume that we will not be covering it in class. Moreover, the riot and its contributing factors may be emblematic of the issues Rio de Janeiro and other large cities faced in the midst of large-scale population influxes from Europe and the Brazilian interior.

The Wiki article itself, while providing a decent summary of the unrest and the series of events that preceded it, fails to make any citations whatsoever. Needless to say, this is insufficient for the standards outlined for the members of our class as editors. To make matters worse, it puts much of the article at some risk for deletion. I will verify as much of the information on the page as I can, in addition to providing what other knowledge I am able to glean from academic sources. One of these is “‘Civilizing Rio de Janeiro’: The Public Health Campaign in the Riot of 1904,” published in the Journal of Social History. Another is “Positivism and Revolution in Brazil’s First Republic: The 1904 Revolt,” published in The Americas. If these sources and the others that I find ultimately befit the purpose, I will also elaborate upon what divisions the turmoil might have revealed within Brazilian society at the onset of the twentieth century.

5 thoughts on “Wikipedia Revision: Anti-Vaccine Riot

  1. Tongtong Wu

    This is an important historical event in Brazil. It would be a good topic to research on and sounds like the existing sources are not well covered. It is frustrating to hear that some sources were not properly cited. Good luck on editing, you got it!

  2. Maria Atala

    Hi Jack! After reading about the anti-vaccine riots for class on Tuesday, I’m glad your updating this page. I think that you could do a lot with this page, especially with possibly connecting it to class and race issues. If I remember correctly, these riots also occurred while Brazil was trying to modernize, so it would be interesting to put it in that context as well.

  3. Mia Stevens

    This is a very interesting topic. I’m curious if due to the confusion that could be caused by the name of the article could it be renamed, to something more clear? However, this could lead to greater confusion if the event is referred to the anti-vaccine riot in the litterature.

  4. caty

    This seems like an important event in Brazil’s history in regards to its low socio-economic population and public health. I’m excited to see the finished article with your improvements.

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