Date of Award

Spring 6-2016

Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of arts (BA)


Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences

First Advisor

Libi Sundermann


My paper examines the life of "Typhoid Mary" Mallon, and looks at how she has been depicted and vilified in popular culture. It asks why and how she has been remembered in history as the infamous “Typhoid Mary” and how her portrayal has been influenced by the attitudes and beliefs of the time and place of her life. I discuss her historical legacy through the lens of her three identities as a healthy carrier, Irish immigrant, and a working woman, researching both primary and secondary sources. Through exploring those subjects, I have concluded that the convergence of these three identities and the prejudiced and nationalist attitudes of early 1900s America have mythologized Mallon’s life into a story told today. The study of Mallon’s story in the context of popular culture and her identities have not been extensively explored, and the time I have put into this research to examine how popular culture’s story of her was both shaped by and helped shape her story provides insight into a much-needed area of scholarship. There are many academic books that discuss Mallon’s case, but few have looked at her as a person and not just a medical anomaly. I hope my research will bring a new perspective to the study of Mallon’s life and legacy.