Life, medicine, and death

In 1889, the Calvary Cemetery was blessed by the local bishop to formally become a Catholic cemetery. Various of the sections are name on behalf of saints, with one section called ‘Our Lady of Sorrows’. It appeared to me the most neatly organized section. However, it was not an area of focus. As a class, we gathered data from various other sections with each individual in charge of collecting information from 15 gravemarkers. According to the site, there are over 40,000 people who have been laid to rest in this particular cemetery. Our data consisted of nearly 200 gravemarkers. Minimal, but there was much to learn. I focused on the number of deaths per year, noticing a gradual increase from the early 1900’s until 1930’s and again from the 1940’s until the 1950’s.

This fits in with not only the end of the world wars, but also before the mass production and availability of penicillin, one of the first antibiotics.Although there is a spike in deaths in 1949, in the years to follow there is never as a high of a spikes with deaths per year averaging our between 2 or 3, compared to prior 1950 the average being 3 or 4. After the accidental discovery of penicillin there was a wave of new medication that occurred that has increased life expectancy. In the 1950’s, for both sexes it was on average 68 years. Today, life expectancy on average is 78.8 years. Our data is an excellent representation of the effect medicine has had on the human population in the past years.

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