In 16th- and 17th-century London, in response to recurrent epidemics of bubonic plague, authorities instituted the tradition of publishing a bill of mortality each week. This page represents the death tally of all city parishes for the week of Aug. 15-22, 1665, when the plague had infected 96 of the 130 parishes reporting.
In his book Shakespeare’s Restless World: A Portrait of an Era in Twenty Objects, Neil MacGregor writes that the bills cost about a penny, and were published in large print runs. The other side of the bills contained information on deaths broken down parish by parish.
The Wellcome Library in London has just made more than 100,000 of its medical-history images available for hi-res download under a CC-BY license. Among the images now freely available are a handful of bills of mortality from 1664 and 1665. Visit their Images page and search “bills of mortality” to see. And historian Craig Spence runs a blog exploring violent deaths in the bills of mortality, which is a great browse.
Via Slate's History Blog.