This medical mystery tracks the spread and eventual control of pellagra, a vitamin deficiency disease that affected millions of Americans during the first half of the twentieth century. Topics covered include American history (1900 to WWII, cotton mills, sharecroppers and tenant farmers, Mississippi River Flood of 1927); world history; nutrition; disease; medical history; science (research methods, biology); government (US Public Health Service, states); biography. The book contains a timeline, notes, bibliography, and a list of recommended books and websites.
The PDF available HERE is an educator’s guide developed by the book’s publisher. It includes excellent discussion questions and activities aligned with the Common Core State Standards.
Pair RED MADNESS with these YA books about epidemic diseases…
- A DEATH-STRUCK YEAR by Makiia Lucier
- SHADOW BLACKBIRDS by Cat Winters
- FEVER 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson
- THE GREAT TROUBLE by Deborah Hopkinson
- CONVERSION by Katherine Howe
- STREAMS OF BABEL and FIRE WILL FALL by Carol Plum-Ucci
- AN AMERICAN PLAGUE: THE TRUE AND TERRIFYING STORY OF THE YELLOW FEVER EPIDEMIC OF 1793 by Jim Murphy
- OUTBREAK! PLAGUES THAT CHANGED HISTORY by Bryn Barnard
- THE SECRET OF THE YELLOW DEATH: A TRUE STORY OF MEDICAL SLEUTHING by Suzanne Jurmain
- INVINCIBLE MICROBE: TUBERCULOSIS AND THE NEVER-ENDING SEARCH FOR A CURE by Jim Murphy and Alison Blank
more to explore
Watch a five-minute video about Joseph Goldberger’s pellagra research, from A Science Odyssey.
- "Dr. Joseph Goldberger and the War on Pellagra.” Office of NIH History.
View an online exhibit about Goldberger’s life, including photographs.
- “BAM! Body and Mind.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
This fun website is aimed at teens and includes information about food, nutrition, diseases, safety, and physical activity. Play the online games and try the recipes for healthy treats.
- “Dietary Guidelines for Americans.” U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services.
Site includes lists of vitamin, nutrient, and calorie content of foods. Read the government’s recommendations for improving diet, and find links to other resources on nutrition and physical activity.
- “Nutrition Information for You.” U.S. Department of Agriculture nutrition.gov Discover extensive information on nutrition and food. In the “What’s in Food” section, find out everything you want to know about your food, including nutrients, vitamins, and additives. Learn which foods have the highest niacin content. The “Life Stages: Adolescents” section is designed especially for teens.
- United States Public Health Service (USPHS) Learn about the mission of the PHS and the opportunities for a career in public health. usphs.gov
Especially for Teachers
BAM! (Body and Mind) Teacher’s Corner
Find resources, links, activities, free handouts and downloads, games, and quizzes linked to national education standards for science and health.
CDC’s site for “Excellence in Curriculum Innovation through Teaching Epidemiology and the Science of Public Health" has many helpful links to activities, resources, articles, books, and internet sites.
- DETECTIVES IN THE CLASSROOM
Check out the epidemiology curriculum for science, mathematics, and health teachers in middle and high schools.
- Kraut, Alan M. Goldberger’s War: The Life and Work of a Public Health Crusader. New York: Hill and Wang, 2003. (The most recent biography of Goldberger.)
- Parsons, Robert P. Trail to Light: A Biography of Joseph Goldberger. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1943.
- Frankenburg, Frances Rachel. Vitamin Discoveries and Disasters: History, Science, and Controversies. Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger, 2009.
- Mullan, Fitzhugh. Plagues and Politics: The Story of the United States Public Health Service. New York: Basic Books, 1989.
- Roe, Daphne A. A Plague of Corn: The Social History of Pellagra. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1973.
- Etheridge, Elizabeth W. The Butterfly Caste: A Social History of Pellagra in the South. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing, 1972.