Loyola University Chicago

Department of History

Emeritus Faculty


Title/s:  Professor Emeritus

Phone: 708.386.7141



Jo N. Hays (B.A., Lehigh University, 1960; Ph.D., University of Chicago, 1970) joined the History Department of Loyola in 1965. He taught there from that date, rising to full professor, until he retired as Professor Emeritus in 2002. His teaching included courses in the histories of science, medicine, and technology; modern British, and British imperial, history, both graduate and undergraduate; intellectual history; the history of industrialization; and senior and honors colloquia. He frequently taught in the summer LEAP (“Learning Advancement for Academic Progress”) program for students admitted at risk; for several years taught short courses in the medical humanities at the Stritch School of Medicine; and served on the College’s Health Professions Advisory Committee.  He had terms as graduate program director and undergraduate program director for the department; he initiated the still-active program of History Department faculty seminars. His research and teaching efforts came to focus particularly on the history of epidemic disease.

The publications listed below all illustrate my desire to contribute interpretive syntheses of the rich monographic literature that has grown up in the field of disease history. My current project  attempts to provide such an interpretive view of the interrelations of disease environments, responses to them, and the world-wide Western empires of the long nineteenth century. Empires as disease disasters for humanity? Empires beneficently triumphant over disease? Well, yes, both. That may be too large a meal to digest; but I’m enjoying trying it.

Research Interests

Social history of diseases, diseases and Western imperialism, scientific institutions and popular scientific culture in 19th century Great Britain

Selected Publications

Epidemics and Pandemics: From Ancient Plagues to Modern Pandemics, co-authored with Joseph P. Byrne (Santa Barbara, CA, ABC-Clio, 2021)

The Burdens of Disease: Epidemics and Human Response in Western History (2d ed.; Rutgers University Press, 2009; 1st ed., 1998).

“Historians and Epidemics: Simple Questions, Complex Answers,” in Plague and the End of Antiquity: the Pandemic of 541-750, ed. L. K. Little (Cambridge University Press, 2007), 33-56.

Epidemics and Pandemics: their Impacts on Human History (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-Clio, 2005).

“Disease as Urban Disaster: Ambiguities and Continuities,” in Cities and Catastrophes: Coping with Emergency in European History, ed. G. Massard-Guilbaud, H. L. Platt, and D. Schott (Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 2002), 63-82.