A certificate often found among the family’s old papers
In Europe smallpox was a leading cause of death in the 18th century, killing an estimated 400,000 Europeans each year (Wikipedia). .
Deaths , Os parish, Ministerialbok nr. A 11, 1789-1815, s. 102
“Død av kopp.”→ Dead from Smallpox
Sometime during the late 1760s whilst serving his apprenticeship as a surgeon/apothecary Edward Jenner learned of the story, common in rural areas, that dairy workers would never have the often-fatal or disfiguring disease smallpox, because they had already had cowpox, which has a very mild effect in humans. In 1796, Jenner took pus from the hand of a milkmaid with cowpox, scratched it into the arm of an 8-year-old boy, and six weeks later inoculated the boy with smallpox, afterwards observing that he did not catch smallpox. Jenner extended his studies and in 1798 reported that his vaccine was safe in children and adults and could be transferred from arm-to-arm reducing reliance on uncertain supplies from infected cows. Since vaccination with cowpox was much safer than smallpox inoculation, the latter, though still widely practised in England, was banned in 1840 (Wikipedia).
From 1810 the vaccination was compulsory in Norway. Without this, one could neither be confirmed nor married (Larsen 2015). We find in the wedding forms in the churchbooks a box where it is asked if the bride and groom has had the natural smallpox or been vaccinated. You can see an example of this here.
This vaccination sertificate is found in many homes among the important papers of the household.
This is a vaccination certificate
born in Risør by parents Knut Knutsen and Dorthea Caroline living in Risør 4 1/2 years old is by me, the signer, in the year 1894 the 5th of July inoculated with cowpox.
After thorough examination between the 7th and 9th day after the inoculation, I have found all the signs that shows this to be proper cowpox. They are complete and unharmed, filled with clear liquid, In the middle depressed surrounded by a red circle.
has then been through proper cowpox that guards against smallpox. This is with my honour and conscience testified
Risør July 12th 1894