One of my winter projects was to write about my family’s experiences during the height of the Tuberculosis epidemic in the late 19th and early 20th century. That means I have a nice list of resources I’d suggest for people researching in this era. My primary focus has obviously been Michigan but if you’re researching a TB patient or anyone involved in the epidemic—activists, medical staff, etc.—consider that there could have been a comparable organization in the area you’re researching.
Track down the Tubercular hospitals, such as the Michigan State Sanatorium (pictured above), for which you can find:
- Patient records held by the Archives of Michigan and available with death certificate of patient.
- Historical collections regarding the hospital held by Howell Carnegie Library
- Reports of the Board of Trustees held by the Library of Michigan, some available through Google Books
- Michigan Official Directory and Legislative Manual. Includes a short history of the Sanatorium with a listing of the Board of trustees.
- Tuberculosis Hospital and Sanatorium Construction by Thomas Spees Carrington, National Association for the Study and Prevention of Tuberculosis, New York, 1911.
Find out how the locale you’re researching responded to the epidemic. For Michigan that includes State reports and Legislation:
- Report of the Tuberculosis Survey of the State Board of Health compiled under the supervision of John L. Burkart, by the authority of the State Board of Health, Lansing, Michigan, 1917.
- Public Health (quarterly periodical) by the Michigan State Board of Health, Lansing, Michigan. 1907-1951.
- Michigan Tuberculosis Association Records, held by Michigan State University Archives and Historical Collections.
- Ralph H. Childs/Grand Rapids Anti-Tuberculosis Society Collection held by Grand Rapids Public Library.
Broader discussion of the treatment of Tuberculosis:
- The Open Air Treatment of Pulmonary Tuberculosis by F. W. Burton-Fanning, Cassell and Company LTD, 1909.
- Clinical Tuberculosis by Francis Marion Pottenger, Second Edition, 2 Vol., C.V. Mosby Company, St Louis, 1922.
It’s fascinating and often heartbreaking research.