" In the early eighteenth century, Lady Mary Wortley Montague accompanied her husband, Edward, the British ambassador to Turkey, to Constantinople. She was instantly intrigued with all of the new and bustling sites and activities around her. One of the most interesting events that she and her husband encountered was a Turkish custom to guard against smallpox; this procedure was called "ingrafting". Ingrafting was usually for the wealthy and privileged people, those who would be attending a "smallpox party". The Wortley Montagues attended such a party and were amazed at what they saw. An old, poorly dressed woman was ushered into the room full of guests. She approached one of the guests, inquired about which vein he wanted opened, and scratched it with a needle til the blood came. She then brought out a nutshell from beneath her skirts inside which was pus from an open smallpox pustule. The old woman dipped the needle into the pus and then pressed it into the scratches, she bound this with a piece of hollow nutshell. Lady Mary was incredulous at this strange event. It looked as if the procedure would give the people the disease instead of guarding them against it. She kept in close contact with the Turks who had been ingrafted; shortly thereafter they all came down with mostly mild cases of smallpox. All recovered. Lady Mary then talked to Turks who had been ingrafted and then survived the severest smallpox epidemics without contracting the disease. Lady Mary was convinced she'd witnessed a miracle. Being an avid letter writer, she quickly spread the word of this Oriental practice to friends. She was so convinced of the value of her new-found discovery that she "[intended] to try it on my dear little Son"; which she did in March of 1718."
SMALLPOX IN THE 18th CENTURY
Susan Pryor, 1984
Colonial Williamsburg Foundation - 0201