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Former good article nomineeInoculation was a good articles nominee, but did not meet the good article criteria at the time. There are suggestions below for improving the article. Once these issues have been addressed, the article can be renominated. Editors may also seek a reassessment of the decision if they believe there was a mistake.
March 19, 2006Good article nomineeNot listed
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From a nascent page called "variolation" Obsolete: inoculation against smallpox using material from a vesicle or lesion of a person with smallpox. Succeeded by vaccination after Edward Jenner

Originally practiced widely in India and China then spread to the Middle-East, from where Lady Mary Wortley Montague (1689-1782) brought it back to England in 1721.

Midgley 01:19, 7 February 2006 (UTC)


British theologian Edward Massey preached and published a sermon The Dangerous and Sinful Practice of Inoculation in 1772. [1]

Clearly that didn't belong in an article on vaccination and religion, that starting in 1796. Midgley 19:45, 10 February 2006 (UTC)

In Boston there was argument with churchmen on both sides "...within a year or two after the first experiment nearly three hundred persons had been inoculated by Boylston in Boston and neighbouring towns, and out of these only six had died; whereas, during the same period, out of nearly six thousand persons who had taken smallpox naturally, and had received only the usual medical treatment, nearly one thousand had died. " [ A HISTORY OF THE WARFARE OF SCIENCE WITH THEOLOGY IN CHRISTENDOM ] ANDREW DICKSON WHITE

Failed "Good Article"[edit]

This article is not balanced as it basically, with the exception of the introduction, only discusses the history of the procedure. It is not very well structured. One noteworthy minor problem is not listing references in standard form. There is also a copyright problem with the first image (obsolete tag). Since the article does not meet the following criteria:

  • Reference: No footnotes;
  • Well written: 1- Should be broken down. 2- Would better be named "History of inoculation";
  • Broad: Article does not cover all major aspects of the topic, see 2 above;
  • Images: Inappropriately tagged images;

I hereby fail it. - Eagletalk 17:23, 19 March 2006 (UTC)

Fixed a couple of those - the mechanism is straightforward but I agree adding it is worthwhile. COuld someone lse have a go at the form of the references, I still have trouble with that. The image is from NLM, and appears to be both PD-old and PD-USGov. Some of Holwell's writing is on view on the RCP website, but not the pamphlet referred to. Midgley 18:02, 19 March 2006 (UTC)

Inoculation in 18th century Scotland and Suffolk[edit] a well-written and comprehensive historical paper with references. also looks interesting - Suffolk. Midgley 22:41, 13 June 2006 (UTC)

Zabdiel Boylston[edit]

Is there a way to include Zabdiel Boylston in the history section? Cmcnicoll 01:06, 11 March 2007 (UTC)

Yes, just mention him. Midgley 12:18, 12 March 2007 (UTC)

The first bit..[edit]

Isn't inoculation for any disease, not for smallpox

Work har, Play hard, Drink harder 11:03, 30 March 2007 (UTC)

"Inoculation (also known as variolation) was a historical method for the prevention of smallpox by deliberate inoculation into the skin of material from smallpox pustules." Inoculation is a method for prevention of smallpox by inoculation?? This is an awful sentence! (talk) 12:57, 2 May 2014 (UTC)

The whole bit[edit]

I was under the impression that innoculation was both the introduction of a pathogen to a host as well as the continiued culture of bacteria or fungus. For example, breweries use used yeast from one brew to 'inoculate' the next. Furthermore, you can 'inoculate' a petri dish (usually containing nutirient agar or another nutrient medium) with a micro organism's culture. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:45, 22 May 2007 (UTC)

Thanks. I'll look into it. WAS 4.250 21:06, 22 May 2007 (UTC)

Emanuel Timonius[edit]

Emanuel Timonius was a precursor and contemporary of Lady Montagu. Reference: Timonius E. An account, or history, of the procuring of the smallpox by incision or inoculation, as it has for some time been practised at Constantinople. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. 1714-1716; 29:72-82. See details in a brief article on the history of smallpox. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:42, 27 January 2008 (UTC)

How could this Relate to Ainceent India???[edit]

Does anyone know how this could relate to aincent India????? Please help me!! —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:06, 26 February 2008 (UTC)

Spell with double N?[edit]

I marked this variation with a {{dubious}} tag because I couldn't find the variation in any dictionary, and because of the etymology. Apologies if I've missed it. --Old Moonraker (talk) 19:40, 26 May 2009 (UTC)

The only spelling variant the OED lists is enoculation, and that's purely historical. Merriam Webster,, etc, list only inoculate. Innoculate is no doubt a common misspelling, but it is surely not an alternative acceptable spelling. -- (talk) 22:10, 26 May 2009 (UTC)
Thanks for the fix. --Old Moonraker (talk) 05:11, 27 May 2009 (UTC)

Huh? Introduction wordliness[edit]

I've never read a longer sentence, it is 137 words! Please break it up and when listing items do not try to explain an item mid-list. I tried but my subject knowledge is too poor to rewrite it accurately. Thanks Kcd83 (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 23:14, 29 October 2009 (UTC).

Too many direct quotes[edit]

Recent verbatim additions from published works on this topic seem to infringe the policy of WP:NPS and, although acknowledged, may even be a copyright violation. I propose a revert—we should be writing Wikipedia ourselves, not reproducing the copyright work of others.--Old Moonraker (talk) 08:16, 5 November 2009 (UTC)

No objections: two passages removed. Other material given footnote acknowledgement.--Old Moonraker (talk) 08:07, 6 November 2009 (UTC)
Sorry about that. I thought it was legal if proper references were provided for direct quotes. I was not aware of WP:NPS and WP:FU restrictions. Thank you. I do think the information I provided was relevant. I just need some free time so I can come back to this and rewrite it to comply with WP:NPS. After two years, I found a vandal had removed information for no reason. They just waste our time. (talk) 22:29, 10 November 2009 (UTC)
Look forward to the additions in due course. I agree that the Indian and Chinese contributions are historically important (and perhaps sometimes overlooked), but please also bear in mind WP:UNDUE. You could always take the bold step of starting spinoff articles!
Meanwhile, the standard exhortation from the management to get an account, which you are at full liberty to ignore, is here. --Old Moonraker (talk) 22:49, 10 November 2009 (UTC)
OM, I have rewritten to comply with policies. If it is still not acceptable, please try to rewrite instead of removing. Thanks! -- (talk) 22:39, 18 November 2009 (UTC)

Second Image (innoculation.jpg) is not an illustration of innoculation[edit]

The second image is in fact Edward Jenner's drawing of a naturally acquired cow pox infection on the hand of Sarah Nelmes. Not only does it not illustrate smallpox inoculation, it does not even illustrate smallpox. See Fulford, Tim and Debbie Lee. "The Beast Within: The Imperial Legacy of Vaccination in History and Literature." Literature and History 9:1 (Spring 2000): 1-23. The image appears, properly annotated, on page 1. An electronic copy of the same article is available here: —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:24, 29 January 2010 (UTC)

Fixed. Good catch!--Old Moonraker (talk) 10:21, 31 January 2010 (UTC)

Mithradates VI (1st century BC)[edit]

| Mithradates VI practiced "inoculation", of a sort, against potential poisons. The only difference, practical & not fundamental, between Mithradates taking sub-lethal doses of poison, and inoculations injecting sub-lethal doses of pathogens, is that the former are chemical, and the latter biological, agents. So, in some sense, inoculation is over 2000 years old. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:07, 7 May 2010 (UTC)


The implication in this article is that the procedure was originally Indian, and then lately transported to the West.

Then we get the following sentence "Mather, a prominent Boston minister, had heard a description of the

African practice of inoculation
from his Sudanese slave, Onesimus, in 1706, but had been previously 

unable to convince local physicians to

attempt the procedure."

Jared Diamond in his Guns, Germs, and Steel, also mentions that initial European settlers in Southern Africa had a high death rate due to setting up camp near dangerous water sources and being unaware of African procedures for inoculation against pox.

So, how come has the fact that inoculation was essential common knowledge in tropical Africa been omitted?

Tebello TheWHAT!!?? 13:57, 30 March 2011 (UTC)

First image does not appear to be of an inoculation[edit]

The label in Urdu says "Rūh Kev-da", which means Flower Water Essence. More trivial translations: The top part is the name of the doctor/pharmacist/apothecary (the word "Hakeem" is used), a Mr. Abdul Jaleel ("Hakeem Abdul Jaleel Saheb"). The bottom part is an address, albeit incomplete - the only complete word I am able to make out is "Dawakhana", which means pharmacy. (talk) 10:05, 2 May 2011 (UTC)

Herbert M. Shelton[edit]

I've just wikified a recently added reference from a book by Herbert M. Shelton and added a couple of wikilinks. No reason to doubt the material, but just to note that it's a WP:SPS and possibly outwith the "reliable source" criteria. Views? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Old Moonraker (talkcontribs) 12:58, 2 May 2011 (UTC)

Inoculation vs Variolation[edit]

As this article is actually about variolation rather than inoculation in general, could we change the title "Variolation" and create an "Inoculation" page that goes into multiple other types of inoculation, such as the inoculation of legumes before planting, inoculation milk and other foods with specific cultures for fermenting, inoculating various media with mycelia for growing edible and medicinal mushrooms, mycorrhizal inoculation for soil health, etc? (eta: I've read the directions and am following them below)

--Zentomologist (talk) 09:12, 14 June 2011 (UTC)

Requested move[edit]

The following discussion is an archived discussion of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

No consensus to move. Vegaswikian (talk) 22:19, 27 June 2011 (UTC)

InoculationVariolation – Variolation is a specific type of (medical) inoculation, but it's not a synonym for inoculation in general nor the only common usage. I'd like to see a page on Inoculation that's broader and covers usages such as the inoculation of legumes before planting, inoculation of milk and other foods with specific cultures for fermenting (such as making yogurt, kefir, natto, sourdough), inoculating various media with mycelia for growing edible and medicinal mushrooms, mycorrhizal inoculation for soil health, etc (all of which would be inappropriate currently as this page says it's a WikiProject _Medicine_ page). Zentomologist (talk) 09:36, 14 June 2011 (UTC)

  • Oppose for now: It would make sense for that page to be created before this move goes forward. Even then, I'm not sure if this is a great idea, because most people know it as "inoculation" and may not even know what "variolation" is. –CWenger (^@) 18:24, 14 June 2011 (UTC)
  • Oppose a move as the intent of the mover can be accomplished by adding the proposed material to this article until the weight of it makes it natural that variolation specific material can be copy/pasted to the existing variolation article space which has a reasonable edit history. Another direction is to expand the variolation article to discuss topics that would be WP:UNDO for this article. For example, this page discusses various methods of variolation that look like they would make for a fascinating addition to a Wikipedia article. I'm also concerned that the variolation article content (before it was redirected) stated this method was obsolete. That's less clear from the Inoculation article which at present is largely about variolation. Thus I'd suggest that as part of shifting material to the variolation variolation that both that article, and the summary in this article, make it clearer that variolation is an obsolete, though historically important, medical technique. A question that comes to mind is from a historical perspective are the various forms of inoculation related? The present article discusses the history of inoculation for smallpox going back to 1500 BCE. Is there any historical relationship of inoculation for smallpox with the history of inoculation of legumes, milk and other foods, and grain refinement (which also uses the term inoculation)? I'm trying to see how much of present variolation specific article content also applies to other forms of inoculation. --Marc Kupper|talk 19:17, 14 June 2011 (UTC)

Marc Kupper: yes, the usages of inoculation are all the same meaning and related that way. "Inoculate" derives from the latin roots "in" (meaning into) and "oculus" (meaning bud), and it's the introduction of microorganisms or other substances into living tissue or culture media. Vaccination is inoculation that specifically uses vaccines (rather than serum or infective material).

No, variolation doesn't apply to any other type of inoculation; the latin name of smallpox is "variola". Variolation is literally intentially infecting someone to variola minor (the milder form), which usually provides immunity to variola major (the more dangerous form) as well. --Zentomologist (talk) 05:06, 15 June 2011 (UTC)

Thank you. It's not clear if the second part of your answer directly the question I had in mind. I'll try a different angle to see if that makes sense. Does the historical record indicate which came first between inoculation and variolation? In other words, were people trying to solve the smallpox problem and hit upon the idea of inoculation as a potential solution or was the concept of inoculation already known and people decided to apply it to smallpox to see if it worked? The reason I'm asking is to see how much of the historical perspective in this article could be retained for "inoculation" and/or how much would be shifted to an article about "variolation."
Ideally, we don't tear out the meat of this article if variolation specific material is shifted to it's own article. A quick scan for historical material on inoculation keeps running into inoculation for smallpox. --Marc Kupper|talk 16:39, 15 June 2011 (UTC)
  • Oppose. This is a good topic and clearly the common name for it. If there's enough material on other topics to justify articles, then fine, but innoculation should remain the name of the general article on that topic. Andrewa (talk) 12:38, 26 June 2011 (UTC)
The above discussion is preserved as an archive of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

Redundant articles on variolation/inoculation[edit]

This article may contain content identical or similar to another topic. Please see Talk:History of smallpox
Mathglot (talk) 22:40, 24 March 2013 (UTC)

Agreed. As a new user, I'm certainly frustrated that the discussion of this subject is split between two parallel articles. I understand that the original idea was to have Variolation to be the narrow article on smallpox only, and Inoculation be the broad article describing other uses of the technique (see this discussion) but it seems like that goal was not achieved. I believe that we should either merge these two articles, integrating the content, or enforce the split as originally envisioned. Either way, the history of the smallpox technique should be in one article, with appropriate summary and links in other articles. Hi-storian (talk) 19:31, 30 December 2015 (UTC)
I changed the lead to focus on contrasting the contemporary common usage versus the historic usage of the word. This Ngram charts the usage of inoculation, variolation, vaccination, and immunization over time. Note that "variolation" is barely a blip on the radar. I think it's OK to keep both articles, if they are well organized and coordinated per WP:Summary style, but agree that work should be done to cull out content overlaps. It's easy to create content forks, but harder to merge them. – wbm1058 (talk) 20:16, 26 September 2016 (UTC)

Ethiopian practice[edit]

Richard Pankhurst has documented that traditional Ethiopian medicine (specifically, as practiced amongst the Amhara & Tigray) included inoculation. Per his account, it is clear that the practice was not adopted from the Europeans, although it is not clear whether this was borrowed from the Ottoman Turks or India, or an independent development. (I'll need to provide cites to his History of Ethiopian Medicine before this material is added to this article.) -- llywrch (talk) 17:22, 20 August 2013 (UTC)

Related move[edit]

at Talk:Inoculator In ictu oculi (talk) 14:18, 28 March 2015 (UTC)

That discussion, now at the deleted page Talk:Inoculator (EP), determined that Inoculator (EP) was not the primary topic for Inoculator. – wbm1058 (talk) 15:02, 13 September 2016 (UTC)

Importation to the west or rather Popularisation in the west?[edit]

Inoculation seems to have been practiced at least since the early XVIIth century in some part of Europe (I excluded the ottoman empire) like Welsh ports,Ireland and Scotland. But the practice just didn't penetrate deeply into life before it was introduce from Constantinople in the 18th century by Lady Montague. So Lady Montague didn't importe inoculation but popularised this technique among western doctors — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2A02:A03F:50D5:6800:8588:6BD7:E26F:B924 (talk) 01:06, 2 April 2020 (UTC)

I think that level of detail over technicalities is a bit excessive..and anyway, if she brought it into Europe from Constantinople, she still "imported" it; she may not have been the first, but an importation is still an importation, and if it was her importation that took root, then the earlier ones would have been just dead end branches anyway. Like, say, if the discussion were when was connection established between the Old and New worlds, you could say the 11th century and technically that would be true, but for all intents and purposes it was still not till the end of the 15th century

Firejuggler86 (talk) 03:07, 1 May 2020 (UTC)