May 16, 2016
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.
October 13, 2014
A colleague and I took a road trip over to Howell Carnegie Library last week to attend their program “A Healing Place” – Memories of the Michigan State Sanatorium, Howell State Hospital, and Hillcrest Center. The turnout was tremendous (as in we were standing in a hall way for the duration and many were turned away) emphasizing the importance of the “Hill” or the “San” to the history of both Livingston County and the state. I was interested because of my great-grandparents experiences in between 1916 and 1920 while my colleague had more recent ties. It was a fascinating night that included a short dvd created for the program on the history of the site and ample time for stories and reminiscing. I really hope that they manage to offer an encore of the program because I think they only scratched the surface and could easily fill a large venue.
Thanks for a fabulous program!
Photo: I don’t know who these ladies are but the picture is likely taken by my Great Grandmother, Cora Packer, during her stay in at the “San” in 1916.
January 16, 2012
I did make it out to Howell this past week—despite cough and winter weather advisories—to check out the Howell Carnegie District Library and more specifically visit its Archives. I had a great time going through boxes of materials on the Michigan State Sanatorium which gave me even more insight into that institution. And some wonderfully illustrative material which I think will bring it to life better for my relatives.
I also noted earlier that my 4th Great Grandfather was listed in one of the online indexes for the Archives. He was listed because they have indexed all Livingston County Civil War Veterans and Henry R. Massy was a replacement soldier for a Hartland, Michigan draftee. So I didn’t really find new information there but it gave me the chance to better study the information offered in the regimental histories created by the state of Michigan.
The volunteers were fabulously helpful gentleman with interesting stories about the more recent history of the hospital (before it was demolished) and about fellow researchers. And the collection looks like it could be a gold mine for researchers with Livingston County roots. Also, the building itself is lovely, with an ornate Carnegie façade, and an unobtrusive modern addition off the back including space for the fiction and non-fiction collections on one floor and an enviable children’s and teen area on the lower floor.
It was definitely a worthwhile road trip!
January 10, 2012
So, assuming I can breathe comfortably without coughing fits, I will be heading over to the Howell Carnegie District Library this week for a little more research on the Michigan State Sanatorium for Tuberculosis. As noted in previous posts, both of my Grandmother’s parents did a stint there, and though their patient dates don’t actually match up—the family story is that they met there.
I’ve been doing a bit of research up front to try and figure out what I’d like to look at. I’ve spent a little time making a list of items that show up on MeLCat, the Michigan eLibrary shared catalog that can be used for interlibrary loan or to just figure out who has what in state. It includes some archival collections including the Michigan State Sanatorium Hillcrest Center collection, 1907-1990 and the Michigan State Sanatorium photograph collection 1917-1957—both of which cover the period when my great-grandparents were patients.
In addition to the material listed on MeL, the Howell Carnegie District Library has a nice newly updated website that includes a set of searchable collection indexes on their archives page. Somewhat idly, I decided to look at the scrapbook indexes and happened to zero in on a relative’s name—it wasn’t either of the grandparents I was hoping to research there. Instead, there is a listing for my 3rd Great Grandfather, Henry R. Massey, who was a replacement soldier for a Hartland resident… You never know where you’ll find things.
So I have a plan… now I just need to get rid of the cold.
Photo: 8 Miles to Coons in Howell, MI: I can’t identify the women but the men are both Sheas. The younger one on the left is probably Dick Shea and the gentleman on the right is my Great-grandfather Robert Shea. I have numerous shots around this sign so my guess based on people subbing in and out of them is that my grandmother actually took the picture. It is from the collection of my Great Aunt.