Tag Archives: Medical History

Special Tour of Grant’s Cottage, Mt. McGregor Offered


By on

0 Comments

Adirondack Architectural Heritage is offering a special tour of Mt. McGregor in Saratoga County on Monday, July 18. Mt. McGregor is the home to Grant’s Cottage and Mt. McGregor Correctional Facility. The latter is a compound of buildings that sprawls along the mountaintop and was constructed in 1912 as a tuberculosis hospital by Metropolitan Life Insurance Company to care for its afflicted employees.

By the 1940s it had become a veteran’s camp, and then a center for people with developmental disabilities. After a period of vacancy, the site reopened in 1976 as a medium security prison. Just over the fence is the cottage where Ulysses S. Grant spent his final months completing his memoirs before succumbing to throat cancer in 1885.

The tour will be led by Wilton Town historian, Jeannine Woutersz, and will include a visit to the Wilton Heritage Museum, Grant’s Cottage, and Mt. McGregor Correctional Facility. The tour begins at 10 a.m. and ends at 4 p.m. The fee is $40 for AARCH and Wilton Heritage Society members and $50 for non-members. Reservations are required; the registration deadline is Friday, July 8.

Adirondack Architectural Heritage (AARCH) is the private, non-profit, historic preservation organization for the Adirondack Park region. This tour is one of over fifty events in their annual series highlighting the region’s architectural legacy. For more information on membership and our complete program schedule contact AARCH at (518) 834-9328 or visit their website.

Photo: The Wilton Heritage Society Museum, formerly the Methodist Episcopal Church, built in 1871.

Historic Saranac Lake Unveiling Photo Exhibit


By on

0 Comments

On June 22, 2011, Historic Saranac Lake will unveil a new John Black Room Exhibit, “The Little City in the Adirondacks: Historic Photographs of Saranac Lake.” Created in collaboration with the Adirondack Room of the Saranac Lake Free Library, the exhibit features almost fifty framed historic photographs of Saranac Lake residents and buildings during the early part of the twentieth century.

The exhibit portrays a vibrant little city with a prospering and diverse economy. Saranac Lake grew quickly in the early 1900s to accommodate thousands of health seekers that came to the village seeking the fresh air cure for tuberculosis, made famous by Dr. Edward Livingston Trudeau. The exhibit features the unique architecture of the village as well as photos of local residents at play and at work.

The photographs represent only small portion of the rich photo collection of the Adirondack Room of the Saranac Lake Free Library. Library curator, Michele Tucker graciously loaned the photos to Historic Saranac Lake, and a team of dedicated volunteers has worked to install the exhibit. Many of the photos were originally printed and framed by the late Barbara Parnass, who was one of the founding Board Members of Historic Saranac Lake in 1980.

The photograph exhibit replaces an earlier exhibit on World War I in Saranac Lake. The exhibit will be on display for twelve months. Plans are underway for a new, comprehensive exhibit on Saranac Lake history to be installed in the John Black Room in 2012.

The Saranac Laboratory Museum opens June 22. The public is invited to visit the new photo exhibit and the laboratory museum space during regular hours through October 7, Wednesday through Friday from 10:00 to 2:00, or any time by appointment. Admission is $5 per person, members and children free of charge.

Photo courtesy of the Adirondack Room, Saranac Lake Free Library.

Historic Tour of Saranac Lake Cure Sites


By on

0 Comments

Adirondack Architectural Heritage (AARCH) and Historic Saranac Lake (HSL) are offering a “Pioneer Health Resort Tour” in Saranac Lake, NY on Wednesday, June 15, 2011. The tour will be led by Mary Hotaling, former executive director of HSL, and current director, Amy Catania. It will include many of the buildings and sites that made Saranac Lake America’s “Pioneer Health Resort.”

The village’s late 19th- and early 20th-century history is closely tied to the treatment for tuberculosis developed by Dr. Edward L. Trudeau. The tour will include the Trudeau Institute, where we will see the first cure cottage, Little Red, and the bronze sculpture of Trudeau by Gutzon Borglum. We’ll visit the former Trudeau Sanatorium, Saranac Laboratory, the Cure Cottage Museum, and the Béla Bartók Cottage.

The tour begins at 10 a.m. and ends around 3 p.m. Be prepared for uphill walking. The fee is $35 for AARCH and HSL members and $45 for nonmembers. Tour attendees will also receive a copy of Cure Cottages, by Phillip L. Gallos. Reservations are required for all tours by calling AARCH at 834-9328.

Photo: Little Red cure cottage, Saranac Lake.

Historic Saranac Lake Gets Preservation Grant


By on

0 Comments

Historic Saranac Lake (HSL) was recently awarded National Endowment for the Humanities Preservation Assistance Grant. The grant will support the services of a professional consultant and the purchase of storage materials for the HSL collection.

Eileen Corcoran, of Vergennes Vermont, will conduct a general preservation assessment and to help draft a long-range plan for the care of the HSL collection. She will also provide on site training to staff in methods and materials for the storage of collections, best practices for cataloging collections, and proper methods for the arrangement and description of archival collections.

Historic Saranac Lake houses a collection of letters and manuscripts, photographs and objects pertaining to the early scientific research of tuberculosis and care of TB patients in Saranac Lake, as well as a variety of items relating to the architecture and general history of the community. A number of these items are rare survivors of the many, many examples that once existed, such as an inspection certificate, or a record of patient treatments. They tell the story of a community of healing.

The Historic Saranac Lake collection is used for exhibitions, educational programs and by researchers. Historic Saranac Lake currently maintains two exhibitions at the Saranac Laboratory Museum. The main laboratory space is a model of a very early science lab. Visitors explore and gain an appreciation for the history of science by observing artifacts and letters on display such as early microscopes and laboratory equipment, early scientific journals and photographs of important men in the history of science.

An alcove in the laboratory has been arranged as an exhibit on patient care, another important facet of Saranac Lake’s TB history. Items from the collection are displayed such as a cure chair, photos of cure cottages, letters from patients, sputum cups, a pneumothorax machine for collapsing the lung, and items made by patients in occupational therapy. Visitors gain an understanding of the patient experience taking the fresh air cure in Saranac Lake.

The main floor meeting space contains another exhibition, “The Great War, WWI in Saranac Lake.” This exhibit includes letters from local soldiers, medals, photos, and a complete WWI uniform and supplies such as a gas mask and mess kit. The exhibit interprets this important time period in history and how it impacted Saranac Lake.

Historic Saranac Lake is a not-for-profit architectural preservation organization that captures and presents local history from their center at the Saranac Laboratory Museum. Founded in 1980, Historic Saranac Lake offers professional knowledge and experience to the public in support of Historic Preservation, architectural and historical research and education. HSL operates the Saranac Laboratory Museum and an online museum of local history at hsl.wikispot.org.

NEH is an independent grant-making agency of the United States government dedicated to supporting research, education, preservation, and public programs in the humanities. Preservation Assistance Grants help small and mid-sized institutions—such as libraries, museums, historical societies, archival repositories, cultural organizations, town and county records offices, and colleges and universities—improve their ability to preserve and care for their humanities collections.

Civil War Nurse Dedication Ceremony


By on

0 Comments

In 1911, Civil War nurse Lucy Blanchard died in Fenton, Michigan. Her remains were brought back to Syracuse and she was buried in Oakwood Cemetery. For ninety-nine years, her grave was unmarked and the memory of her service faded. Thanks to the efforts of Michigan historian Len Thomas, Lucy’s life story has been researched in depth. With the help of the Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War, a government headstone has been placed on Lucy’s grave.

On Saturday morning, November 13 at 11 o’clock, all are invited to pay tribute to this courageous lady, so long forgotten. For more information and a map to the gravesite, go to:

Former Trudeau Sanatorium Patient Publishes Novel


By on

0 Comments

Annapolis, Maryland resident, Florence Mulhern, will be at The Saranac Laboratory, 89 Church Street, on October 23rd, 2010, at 2:00 for a book signing of her just published novel, The Last Lambs on the Mountain. Ryerson University Scholar Dr. Jean Mason will introduce the author.

Mulhern spent two years at Trudeau Sanatorium while a tuberculosis patient. She has written a riveting and absorbing novel bringing her fictional characters together, sharing their varied backgrounds, living with constant hope, despair and uncertain futures. Her character’s lives intertwine as they are forced to live through difficult surgeries and experimental medicines always with the unceasing hope a cure is found allowing their lives will return to normal.

Mrs. Mulhern began her writing career many years ago and is the author of numerous published articles and two historical books. The book is now available for purchase in the Museum Store of the Saranac Laboratory, operated and major book sellers. All proceeds benefit Historic Saranac Lake.

Photo: Saranac Lake (Church Street from River Street). Courtesy Historic Saranac Lake.


‘Perceiving Buffalo’ Autistic Artists Exhibit


By on

0 Comments

The Buffalo & Erie County Historical Society (BECHS) has announced “Perceiving Buffalo,” an exhibit of works by artists from Autistic Services, Inc. (ASI). The show opened in BECHS’ second-floor Community Gallery on July 1st and will run through Sunday, August 22, 2010. The exhibit is open to the public, and free with regular museum admission.

In addition, there will be a celebratory reception sponsored by Autistic Services Inc., on Thursday, July 22, from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Historical Society. The reception is free and open to the public.

The exhibit, curated by BECHS Museum Educator Tara Lyons, and facilitated by ASI staff members Veronica Federiconi, Dana Ranke, Todd Lesmeister, and Brian Kavanaugh features work by Aaron B., Dan C., Stacey M. and Neil S., four artists from ASI’s Arts Work Program.

The selected paintings and drawings mesh the works of the artists with BECHS’ mission to tell the stories of people and places in the region. The show highlights the artists’ interests in and creative interpretations of iconic Buffalo landmarks and community figures. Portraits include those of Ani DiFranco, Tim Russert, and one featuring three local newscasters. In addition, there is a series of drawings of Buffalo public school buildings. A short film of artist Neil S. will describe the artists’ creative process and his deep personal connection to the subject matter.

Autistic Services Inc. is a community organization that promotes the awareness of autism and provides treatment, education, and care for individuals with autism spectrum disorders. The Arts Work Program, through which the works in “Perceiving Buffalo” were created, is part of the ASI’s individual therapy rooted in the creation of visual arts.

The reception will be held in the State Court of the Historical Society, and will feature a performance by No Words Spoken, a group of musicians which also evolved through Autistic Services programming. Wine and cheese will be served, and the public is invited to attend this free evening event.

A New Biography of One of America’s Greatest Surgeons


By on

0 Comments

In April 1882, on a kitchen table, a doctor worked feverishly over a jaundiced 70-year-old woman. He had determined that she had an infection of the gallbladder and that only emergency surgery could save her life. Dr. William Stewart Halsted performed the successful surgery – the first known operation to remove gallstones – and brought his mother back from the brink of death.

Dr. Halsted, considered a father of modern surgical technique, was also a man with a raging cocaine and morphine habit. Born in New York City just before the Civil War, Halsted introduced the fundamentally important use of sterile gloves, surgical anesthesia, the residency program every medical student undergoes, the mastectomy, the hernia repair, local anesthesia and contributed towards important advances in thyroid and vascular surgery.

According to the publishers of a new book on this intriguing doctor, “Every single hour, of every day, across the globe, caregivers of every type are using the methods of Dr. Halsted.” Unfortunately, they also call him “a real life Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” whose “tale of brilliance and the bizarre” is told by Gerald Imber, MD, in Genius on the Edge: The Bizarre Double Life of Dr. William Stewart Halsted.

Imber goes to great length to immerse the reader in the look and feel of New York life during the later part of the 19th century, and there is plenty here to placate those interested in medical history. The book’s failure to understand the real workings of drug use in the period – here cocaine and morphine – leave the reader wanting more, particularly from a book which touts that drug use as “bizarre”. To be sure, Imber, the author of several books and articles who appears regularly on network TV, has crafted a readable biography of William Stewart Halsted. His portrayal of Halsted’s habit however, suffers from tired and worn stereotypes.

Halsted was born in New York City in 1852, a time when only half the children born in the United States would live to the age of five and more New Yorkers were dying from disease each year than were being born.

In 1874, Halsted enrolled in Manhattan’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, which like all medical schools of the day, was a business, and basically a trade school. Students chose whether to attend lectures or not; no laboratory or clinical work was required. Halsted, however, sought out the best teachers and worked diligently, ultimately focusing on anatomy and surgery; dissecting and studying his extra cadavers beyond the levels required of students.

Halstead was quick to recognize the anesthetic possibilities of an exciting new drug, cocaine alkaloid, which Sigmund Freud began experiments with in early 1884. He experimented by injecting himself at first and then used cocaine successfully for dental surgeries. Halsted then tried morphine which was used to relieve anxiety, nervousness, and sleeplessness and as an antidote for alcoholism and became slowly addicted to both drugs.

Unfortunately, the book does not provide adequate context for the use of cocaine and morphine in the late 1800s. For example, in 1885 Parke-Davis sold cocaine in various forms and promised it would “supply the place of food, make the coward brave, the silent eloquent and … render the sufferer insensitive to pain.” It was sold in neighborhood drugstores and its use was encouraged for laborers and even by Ernest Shackleton and Robert Falcon Scott who took cocaine with them to Antarctica. It wasn’t until 1903, when the American Journal of Pharmacy argued that cocaine abusers were mostly “bohemians, gamblers, high- and low-class prostitutes, night porters, bell boys, burglars, racketeers, pimps, and casual laborers,” that attitudes about the drug began to change. The book would have been served well by putting the broader context of shifting public perceptions, based on race and class, into the biography of a man described in the subtitle as living a “bizarre double life.”

Although the focus is somewhat misdirected to an out of context connection to Halsted’s drug use, Gerald Imber’s Genius On the Edge shows in fascinating detail a time when sanitary practices were unknown. Doctors performed surgery with unwashed hands and the ubiquitous wound infections made elective surgery rare. For modern readers, descriptions of the hospitals and procedures of Halsted’s day are the truly bizarre and terrifying story. It was Halsted who was responsible for the transition to modern surgery. Scrub suits and sterile rubber gloves began in his operating room, along with his operations for breast cancer and hernia; he made local and spinal anesthesia a reality and was a pioneering vascular surgeon and endocrine surgeon. So great a surgeon was Halsted, that he was mentor to many of the greatest surgeons in history, including Harvey Cushing and Walter Dandy, the fathers of neurosurgery. Perhaps the focus on his personal foibles is only the work of overzealous publishers trying to find an angle, but it detracts from the work and life of highly successful and innovative man who used drugs for over 40 years to aid his brilliant career.

Note: Books noticed on this site have been provided by the publishers. Purchases made through this Amazon link help support this site.

NYPL Offers Program on Tobacco Advertising


By on

0 Comments

A new exhibition hosted by The New York Public Library examines the historic advertisements in which tobacco companies claimed that smoking provided a range of health benefits, including the ability to calm nerves, boost energy and aid in weight loss. That’s one from my personal collection at left.

Not a Cough in a Car Load: Images Used by Tobacco Companies to Hide the Hazards of Smoking, an historical, multi-faceted and thought-provoking exhibition examining the methods tobacco companies took to promote their products, will be on display at The New York Public Library’s Science, Industry and Business Library‘s Healy Hall at 188 Madison Avenue, from October 7 to December 26, 2008. Admission is free. A related event featuring a lecture by the exhibition’s curator, Dr. Robert Jackler, including the presentation of vintage video advertisements for tobacco products, will be held on Tuesday, December 9, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Dr. Jackler, an associate dean of Continuing Medical Education at Stanford University, created the revealing look at the tobacco industry after his mother, a longtime smoker, was diagnosed with lung cancer. Aiming to raise awareness of advertising practices at the time, the exhibit contains boldly designed eye-catching images collected from such publications as Life and the Saturday Evening Post and ranging in date from 1927 to 1954. All images have been returned to their original, vibrant form through digital enhancement.

“Due to our current knowledge of the dangers involved with cigarettes, some of the images are actually humorous in nature and while we are having some fun with the exhibition, this is also a compelling story about the way the tobacco industry kept people smoking for generations,” said Dr. Jackler.”We are talking about an industry that put profits above all consideration for its customers’ well-being.It is still relevant today, because while the ads are much more subtle and constrained, the message and goals are still the same.”

The exhibit debuted at Stanford University in January 2007 and has been shown at the University of California and Harvard Medical prior to its run at the library.

“Not a Cough in a Carload takes a look at the power of image and serves as a follow-up to other advertising exhibitions we have hosted,” said John Ganly, SIBL’s assistant director for collections.”It is also a perfect complement to the great collections at the library that deal with the issues of smoking.”

In addition to images of such luminaries as Rock Hudson, John Wayne, Joe DiMaggio, a pre-presidential Ronald Reagan, and Santa Claus smoking tobacco products, advertisements also depict unidentified doctors with cigarettes in hand accompanied by the claim that “More Doctors Smoke Camels than Any Other Cigarette.” Another features a statistic that “38,381 Dentists Say, ‘Smoke Viceroys,'” before the bold statement that the filtered brand “Can never stain your teeth.”

“They used images of doctors to reassure the public, but these characters came right out of central casting and only looked like doctors,” said Dr. Jackler.”The medical profession didn’t complain, because the ads made doctors appear noble. And the public were taken in by the ads, because if a doctor smokes, it must be ok.”

The popular “Reach for a Lucky, Instead of a Sweet” campaign by Lucky Strike is also featured, as tobacco companies wooed weight-conscious consumers. Lucky Strike, among other cigarette companies, is also featured in ads tackling “smoker’s cough,” as a brand good for the throat. In addition to the medicinal effects of cigarettes, claims made about tobacco’s effects on smokers’ moods are also examined in vivid detail, along with images of advertisements Dr. Jackler believes were directed at kids in the Sunday “funnies”.

In a separate area leading to the main exhibition, the library will include documents from the George Arents Collection on Tobacco on display along with three-dimensional materials, such as actual magazines featuring cigarette advertisements and boxes of candy cigarettes.In addition, a research guide culled from various documents at The New York Public Library, featuring government papers, Surgeon General reports and hearings dealing with tobacco advertising, will be made available. A guest book will also allow visitors to express their reactions to the exhibition.

Not a Cough in a Car Load: Images Used by Tobacco Companies to Hide the Hazards of Smoking will be on view from October 7 to December 26, 2008 in Healy Hall at the The New York Public Library’s Science, Industry and Business Library, located at 188 Madison Avenue. Exhibition hours run Monday, Friday and Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Tuesday through Thursday, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.Admission is free. For more information, call (212) 592-7000 or visit www.nypl.org.