The Bubonic Plague in... San Francisco?

Caitlin Doughty – Ask A Mortician
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That time San Francisco was plagued by THE LITERAL PLAGUE.
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Mortician: Caitlin Doughty
Producer & Writer: Louise Hung (@LouiseHung1)
Editor & Graphics: Landis Blair (@landisblair)
"Black Death ('Hollaback Girl' by Gwen Stefani)": historyteachers ruvid.net/video/video-rZy6XilXDZQ.html
This video was largely informed by "Black Death at the Golden Gate: The Race to Save America from the Bubonic Plague" by David K. Randall. Thank you to Mr. Randall for your exhaustive research and illuminating insight.
We'd also like thank Marilyn Chase for her book, "The Barbary Plague: The Black Death in Victorian San Francisco". Thank you Ms. Chase for your research and thoughtful explanations.
Go read about the plague everyone!

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Black Death at the Golden Gate: The Race to Save America from the Bubonic Plague
Randall, David K. W. W. Norton & Company. New York, 2019.
The Barbary Plague: The Black Death in Victorian San Francisco
Chase, Marilyn. Random House. New York, 2003.
"San Francisco's bubonic plague epidemic has eerie parallels to modern day"
"San Francisco’s Plague Years"
"Maybe Rats Aren't to Blame for the Black Death"
"Rats May Not Be to Blame for Spreading the 'Black Death'"
"Studies reveal how plague disables immune system, and how to exploit the process to make a vaccine"
"The ‘Chinese Flu’ Is Part of a Long History of Racializing Disease"

Published on


Nov 21, 2020




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Caitlin Doughty – Ask A Mortician
I love that you all love the "plague song" in this video! Alas it did not come from my brain, check out the full song here: ruvid.net/video/video-rZy6XilXDZQ.html
Maggie E
Maggie E 23 hours ago
I knew the video the second I heard it, I love the history teachers songs🙂
Jack Combs
Jack Combs 3 days ago
Shout-out to my freshman geography and history of the world teacher for getting my class hooked on all the songs
RenzXVI 5 days ago
I just noticed that Historyteachers had uploaded a new HD version of the Black Death song a few hours ago. They now have new videos! I can't help but think Caitlin's use of the song on this video helped revive the channel... :D
Theres at least one usually a couple of bubonic plagues each year in the USA, same for leprosy!
Tuxi Talk 1
Tuxi Talk 1 11 days ago
@DollsAndSpooks "Hey, don't blame me! And watch where you put that swab!". I am a fan of bats, and hate the fact some people will eat them. We need them for killing mosquitoes and propagating seed distribution of berries and other seed fruit. www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2020/02/20/807742861/new-research-bats-harbor-hundreds-of-coronaviruses-and-spillovers-arent-rare
MexicanReformist 25 minutes ago
♥️♥️👍👍love your videos, very insightful and informative.
Antonette Ybarra
I love for Caitlin yelling ‘Raaatttsss’ in the stress of San Francisco.
craisins95 3 hours ago
It took them 8 years to get their act together omg. That’s awful. I’m glad it had a happy ending. Makes me hopeful that maybe things now will.
KS 29
KS 29 7 hours ago
Surely you know Donald called it the China plague NOT the Chinese plague. He was referring to it coming from China and their failure to contain it.
Kelly Walsh
Kelly Walsh 9 hours ago
Ive just found your channel tonight!! Bloody brilliant!! New subscriber 🤪
Regina Holoman
Regina Holoman 9 hours ago
I loved the cameo appearances of cheeto trump
Asigedge 12 hours ago
Seldom attacks Europeans....Ummm wasnt like 60% of Europe Decimated by this same plague in the 1300s and 1600s???
Jess Ess
Jess Ess 20 hours ago
Australia has an outbreak of the plague in 1890’s to early 1900’s in the outback 🤷🏻‍♀️
Charlotte Berryman
This is the only gender wage gap i approve
Jadyn Peto
Jadyn Peto Day ago
Why pandemics and shit always starting in China tho? Well even if this didn’t start in China the third wave did so I wanna say the first did as well for some reason. Weirdddddddd
Logan Vannor
Logan Vannor Day ago
“The plague fake!” Lmao I couldn’t keep it together after the third one! Thankfully I didn’t wake up my fiancé lol also gotta love that egg leg!
Bored Insomniac
4:58 buboes lol
Judy Baird
Judy Baird Day ago
Is it legally ok to take jewelry off of a dead relative before being buried? I didn’t think it was ok but recently someone did this so we are wondering if we can do anything about it.
Umberto Amante
America has a long tradition of amplifying and overreacting. And the media certainly is guilty of playing up any threat. Did Spain really attack the US? Maybe this statement is true but the media could not be trusted then in 1898, as most seem to agree, so why would we trust them in 1900 or 2020? The Spanish-American War (Spanish: Guerra hispano-estadounidense or Guerra hispano-americana; Filipino: Digmaang Espanyol-Amerikano) was an armed conflict between Spain and the United States in 1898. Hostilities began in the aftermath of the internal explosion of USS Maine in Havana Harbor in Cuba, leading to U.S. intervention in the Cuban War of Independence. The war led to the U.S. emerging predominant in the Caribbean region,[15] and resulted in U.S. acquisition of Spain's Pacific possessions. That led to U.S. involvement in the Philippine Revolution and ultimately to the Philippine-American War
Adam Niles
Adam Niles Day ago
I'm a rat too. I like your stories.
Bev M-L
Bev M-L Day ago
Read Boccaccio's "Decameron" for some bawdy stories occurring around the plague as it overtook Italy in the 14th Century. It's worth your time! Also read Chaucer's, "The Pardoner's Tale." It's short and "death-ly."
rachel ericson
Holy crap. The resemblance is uncanny. 100 years later and well..... Unsettling to say the least.
Imagine Kudryavka
"There's probably a rat near you right now" Hmmm. **looks around** I dunno. I live on the third floor of an apartment complex, in a clean Finnish neighborhood, in the middle of winter. Now I'm actually curious where the nearest rat to me is! There's definitely a lot of nature around, but I've never seen a rat outside, let alone inside - I don't even get spiders or bugs in this apartment, so if a rat is hiding under something, then he hella sneaky.
Rishi Beauty
Rishi Beauty Day ago
Funny thing is Guangdong is the birthplace of the current nasties that have invaded the world.. What the heck goes on there? Perhaps it is time to backfill the town in 3 feet of concrete. Seems like this place is where everything bad gets its start.
Max Covfefe
Max Covfefe Day ago
As others probably pointed out here, Rat isn't a bad sign. Rats come first in the Chinese zodiac. It's a long story, but Buddha arranged a race of all the animals to see who would be first in this system, and Rat won by a nose: Rat was clever enough to hitch a rode with Ox, and climbed onto his snout at the end of the race, so technically he finished first by having his whole body over the finish line before Ox. Rat people are clever, quit witted, sociable, persuasive, and talkative. On the downside, they can also be meddlesome know-it-alls that some might mistake as terrible gossips, but truly Rats are just great informants that almost never pass along "fake news" without good reason.
Max Covfefe
Max Covfefe 2 hours ago
@The Slippery Noodle yeah, it's an old story told many ways.
The Slippery Noodle
Makes me think of the anime Fruits Basket! The cat was kicked out of the zodiac in that anime. 🐈
Elsa&lisa 2 days ago
This was my favorite! I lived in San Francisco for 20 years up above Chinatown. One day I was riding through the tenderloin. Some one threw a radio out of the window at the bus and the woman next to me said “ how Medieval “. I thought that was funny and ironic. I would have really laughed my ass off if I’d known about this.
TerranStriker 2 days ago
I like your energy when talking about death. Making it interesting 😀. Time to get a plague doctors outfit.
Bill Does Stuff
Bill Does Stuff 2 days ago
Amazing to see the denialism, was alive and well then too. I thought it was really bad this past year and perhaps people back then had a little more sense. Due to how San Fran. handled the 1918 flu pandemic's second wave, which was better than this plague outbreak. They locked down before it got to them really bad in 1918 and were more proactive by then. This was very interesting and I now get precisely why, they in particular, took pathogens more seriously by 1918. History repeats itself in 2020-2021. People just don't get it, but thank goodness for the scientifically literate in infectious disease, who do take it seriously. Like you Caitlin, bravo with that ending.
Brighid Nichole
Brighid Nichole 2 days ago
Wow, over a thousand salty ass buboes with cognitive dissonance... Appreciate you Caitlin. History hurts. Tell it anyway.
Rowan Lamoureux
Rowan Lamoureux 2 days ago
Suddenly... I feel like I'm living in 1900
mgee63 2 days ago
BJ/DSL lips....
Georgia Camacho
Georgia Camacho 2 days ago
I go too excited at hearing "Shine on Harvest Moon" in the background!
Rita McCartt-Kordon
I just love your humor!
Angélica Calderón
Wow! It's incredible that after all this time, we keep making the same mistakes...
Trump coward Traitorat
I love this awesome lady 😍
Kossolax the Foresworn
so it starts every time in china, and then covid started from there as well. Im starting to see a pattern here.
The Slippery Noodle
I would say primarily large population.
ixtasis 2 days ago
I'm a female tiger. That's bad news for you!
Queen Jellyfish
Queen Jellyfish 2 days ago
'We can wear a mask' best line ever with this video
You do the very best videos on RUvid!I love the way you handle every single subject and present facts with interesting style!You're witty and pretty too?I believe I'm going to love it here!Fan for life!You're a gifted speaker and very knowledgeable about your craft!
Rose from UK
Rose from UK 2 days ago
This needs to be made into a movie, it’s fascinating
Auna Breslin gaming
aaannnnd people compare covid to this........ no this shit's scary
Aziza Brown
Aziza Brown 2 days ago
Your English accent in the beginning wasn’t actually terrible!
Kat J
Kat J 2 days ago
The gut of the flea becomes blocked by the bacteria of the plague, causing it to vomit contaminated blood onto the bite of the victim thusly spreading the plague. It’s not the flea bite alone but the contaminated vomit getting into the wound that causes the infection. Also there are other forms of the plague apart from bubonic which had the highest rate of survival, there was pneumonic then last septicemic plague with the highest death rate.
Tiny Walnut
Tiny Walnut 3 days ago
22:27 My cat, curled up next to me, shifted in her sleep.
Reina Nijinsky
Reina Nijinsky 3 days ago
Dr. Fauci in 2020
Nanuq 83
Nanuq 83 3 days ago
For a serious topic I spent half the time laughing. I also learned something new. Win win. Those poor rats and guinea pigs :(
Kraven James
Kraven James 3 days ago
SIR... It was Rats.
Ava Grace
Ava Grace 3 days ago
I will never forget the (recentish) year that a concert series was going on in my home state of Colorado and authorities had to beg people not sleep and camp at the site (A tradition for said concert series) because the bubonic plague was in the prairie dogs.
Backruborbust 3 days ago
Why did I think cats had something to do with getting rid of the rats? Guess they have fleas too though...yeah
Margie Burke
Margie Burke 3 days ago
This sounds like what we are going through now,
Jhonathan Azeredo
and history keeps repeating itself again and again. If only people dared to learn a bit of it.....
Vjobs10 3 days ago
This would be an amazing movie! I would so watch it
the 10th
the 10th 3 days ago
Funniest line? "There's a car coming, so I have to do my dramatic reveal!" Darn real life getting in the way of dramatic presentations!
Rolf Erik Bakløkk
So they tried with a dr.White first and then went for a dr.Blue?
Ann King
Ann King 3 days ago
Love this episode. Caitlin is the Best storyteller/historian. 💖👍
Klaas Siersma
Klaas Siersma 3 days ago
So, nothing's new realy.
Joshula Williams
Joshula Williams 3 days ago
She said Plague death Plague death Plague death Plague death I heard Egg leg Egg leg Egg leg Egg leg
Yeeyee Rvtbtnnynynttbbtwbrbf
this sounds.. familiar....
Bogdan Sorlea
Bogdan Sorlea 3 days ago
actually nowadays the Quebec flag - that yellow jack (which also means the letter Q) - has an opposite meaning than in the old days, i.e. now it signals authorities that the ship flying it is free from disease and ready to be boarded for inspection and other procedures when arriving in a port (especially when coming from abroad)
Bogdan Sorlea
Bogdan Sorlea 3 days ago
you have there an ikon of the Virgin Mary with Jesus in the style of eastern orthodox christian religion (greek/byzantine)?
Jaroslava Lonchyna
I noticed that too.
Matthew Fleshman
Matthew Fleshman 4 days ago
Wow....120 years later and this all sounds very familiar.....
Sarah Rosen
Sarah Rosen 4 days ago
Suspected infected rats had their cells cultured and then injected in guinea pigs to confirm the diagnosis. Then the rat carcasses were burned. BUT WHAT ABOUT THE GUINEA PIGS?!?! (And when did guinea pigs volunteer to be ‘guinea pigs’?)
Sarah Horning
Sarah Horning 4 days ago
*OOH FLEAS ON RATS, FLEAS ON RATS* YO that was my hs world history teacher's jam. 😂😂😂😂😂
Joey Moursalian
Joey Moursalian 4 days ago
Worlds most underrated video.
dunnowy123 4 days ago
Ah, how little things change. New pandemic, same shenanigans.
B Welkinator
B Welkinator 4 days ago
Aimee Huntley Huntley
From the very start, the bigger meaning wasn't lost on me. Thank you so much Caitlin!!! RUvid on with whatever topics please you Queen Mortician!
Jan Tarasoff
Jan Tarasoff 4 days ago
We went on the tunnels tour in Seattle a number of years ago. The guide said that not long after the "tunnels" came into existence, they were mostly closed off due to plaque rats from the nearby docks. True?
Baerno 4 days ago
So Henry Gage invented the "Fake News", and witty nicknames for people who didn't agree with him? Also knew more about disease than the experts? Under the thumb of big business? Familiar hairline? Did he have any great grandchildren that went into politics? Recently?
Dimitar Y
Dimitar Y 4 days ago
I was sure she would jump on the next ferry to Hawaii 😀
Zippy101 4 days ago
This is starting to sound very familiar 🤔
RenzXVI 5 days ago
I just noticed that Historyteachers had uploaded a new HD version of the Black Death song a few hours ago. They now have new videos! I can't help but think Caitlin's use of the song on this video helped revive the channel... :D
Brandon Thailand
Brandon Thailand 5 days ago
Covid is not the plague. Its a cold virus. 99.95% survival rate. Masks are a placebo.
Human Being
Human Being 5 days ago
How annoying. “Don’t make this about race....” I’d be like, “B-ish, I didn’t. Feel free to sample your own advice tho. “
World Society for the Protection of Vocalists
"Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it." Damn! We are bad at History.
Rei Z
Rei Z 5 days ago
Whacha gonna do with all that pus, all that pus inside your lump?
Aegri Somnia
Aegri Somnia 5 days ago
Fucking Skaven!!!
S DM 5 days ago
Thank you very much for making this video. It is a very good history lesson.
Knott Reel
Knott Reel 5 days ago
I love Caitlin's videos, but I'm afraid her political bias is showing a little bit. First off, Covid does belong to China. They created it in their lab. They let it infect the world. China owns this. Secondly, don't conflate Covid with the Bubonic Plague. They are not the same in terms of their morbidity rate for the numbers who contract it.
Scott C
Scott C 6 days ago
I don't care for a latte, I prefer a littlte. The big bucks - not more, just larger, like the lottery checks.
Auriga 6 days ago
poor ratties :(
gladto begone
gladto begone 7 days ago
I'm not a fan of death when it comes to me. I like your Bettie Page hair.
Joe Blazer
Joe Blazer 7 days ago
I thought she was going to talk about the current crop of plague rats running thru the trash in ol Frisco..
Rebecca Reali
Rebecca Reali 7 days ago
Bubonic Plague is EXTREMELY different then a glorified cold that has a 99.9% recovery rate!! More people have died from driving but continue to drive, more people have died from the flu yet we didn’t hide from that either... You love research 🧐 check out the CDC...they’re declaring mask usage is ineffective. I adore you and your videos but then you have to take a political and bullying route... every liberals favorite go to... “He DoWn PlAyEd ThE vIrUsE” but all the while there’s VIDEO OF NANCY AND BELOVED FAUCI PARTYING IN China town telling people “it’s no big deal” “no need to wear mask or worry” and all the while Trumps being called a xenophobic for restricting travel to and from China! The hypocrisy is thick and I can’t fathom it...it almost like y’all so blinded with hate that you neglect the hypocrisy and lunacy of the Democratic Party. Orange man bad.
Rebecca Reali
Rebecca Reali 7 days ago
And I’ll add because you take what he said out of context and edited for your own agenda...he didn’t call it the “China plague” or “China virus” because he thinks Europeans can’t get it, he calls it that because it CaMe FrOm ChIna!
Art Vader
Art Vader 7 days ago
We have over 40,000 homeless in Silicon Valley, our local politicians have done little to nothing to address the issue.
Meredith Seidl
Meredith Seidl 7 days ago
Great history lesson! Thanks!
MannyBot -DEAF-
MannyBot -DEAF- 7 days ago
You know you would be an awesome SCP narrator. Especially SCP-049 😉
Michele Austin
Michele Austin 7 days ago
Caitlin, I absolutely love your videos ,they are both informative and entertaining !. Tonight I was listening to COAST TO COAST with George Norry at work ( radio talk show) George told the audience he has NEVER had on a mortician. ..and said he would love to have one on. You were the first person that pooped in my mind... Please contact George Norry.. he has millions of listeners...just think of all your new followers to come.
Toasted Macaron
Toasted Macaron 8 days ago
Lol she gave me major apothecary vibes with the intro
Bella 8 days ago
Caitlin we love you! You are our dark, dead, rat history queen who always has the right memes and songs for the occasion. Your ability to combine good information, story telling, and current issues is astonishing, and to top it all off you are stunning! Thank you for this video as well as all the others!
A G 8 days ago
I was eating a burrito or at least trying when the discussion of rats and fleas started 🤢
john roobol
john roobol 8 days ago
when you said wear a mask i spit my coffee out lol
Wooooow, there were do many deer around you!
erich moller
erich moller 8 days ago
Again... China
Michelle Linder
Michelle Linder 9 days ago
It is still endemic in Yosemite and up near the Oregon border. Don't play with squirrels in those areas.
Nekomi Son
Nekomi Son 9 days ago
Why do I feel like history repeated itself but this time with covid?
Stacy Collier
Stacy Collier 9 days ago
Sounds like ebola
Richard Deese
Richard Deese 9 days ago
Intensities in tent cities... interesting. Aw, RATS - it's the plague! *_Ring around the rosies / A pocket full of posies / Ashes, ashes / All fall down /_* Funny how a children's song preserves that awful memory. Now *_that's_* what I call a meme. I also find it interesting that we say, "Rats!" as an interjection. Not snakes, turtles, worms, frogs, etc. Rats. Hmm... tavi.
Richard Deese
Richard Deese 9 days ago
"Here! He says he's not dead!" "Yes he is!" *_'I'm getting better...'_* By the way, Ms. Rat: I'm a Snake. "Run away! Run away!" :) tavi.
janae linder
janae linder 10 days ago
Caitlyn can you please do a video about the rabies virus?
Any OM
Any OM 10 days ago
I need that song in my cellphone
Kenneth Frazee
Kenneth Frazee 10 days ago
Pres Nicely
Pres Nicely 11 days ago
i’ve grown up in the bay area and spent a lot of my childhood in sf chinatown. people act like it’s a lawless place because of stuff like this happening and it’s just not fair. in any case, the story of the sf bay area is really interesting.
Connor Brady
Connor Brady 11 days ago
Dude you are funny
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