Saving Sickly Children: The Tuberculosis Preventorium in American Life, 1909-1970

Saving Sickly Children: The Tuberculosis Preventorium in American Life, 1909-1970

Saving Sickly Children: The Tuberculosis Preventorium in American Life, 1909-1970

Saving Sickly Children: The Tuberculosis Preventorium in American Life, 1909-1970

Synopsis

Known as "The Great Killer" and "The White Plague," few diseases influenced American life as much as tuberculosis. Sufferers migrated to mountain or desert climates believed to ameliorate symptoms. Architects designed homes with sleeping porches and verandas so sufferers could spend time in the open air. The disease even developed its own consumer culture complete with invalid beds, spittoons, sputum collection devices, and disinfectants. The "preventorium," an institution designed to protect children from the ravages of the disease, emerged in this era of Progressive ideals in public health.

In this book, Cynthia A. Connolly provides a provocative analysis of public health and family welfare through the lens of the tuberculosis preventorium. This unique facility was intended to prevent TB in indigent children from families labeled irresponsible or at risk for developing the disease. Yet, it also held deeply rooted assumptions about class, race, and ethnicity. Connolly goes further to explain how the child-saving themes embedded in the preventorium movement continue to shape children's health care delivery and family policy in the United States.

Excerpt

P is for prevention much better than cure

R is for rest in the open air pure

E is for the evils of dirt, and foul air,

V is for vices that lead to despair

E education, improving the mind

N stands for nurses, so helpful and kind

T is for tooth-brush, used three times a day

O is for outings, fresh air and play

R means refuse to touch soiled cloth or
towel

I means infection from drinking-cup foul

U is for us—most sincerely we pray

M is for much strength to do service each
day

P-R-E-V-E-N-T-O-R-I-U-M (repeated several
times getting louder each time)

—Preventorium Cheer

Just a few miles off the New Jersey Turnpike, one of the world’s busiest highways, sits a cluster of buildings with an adjacent golf course. The only clue to what was once housed here is the address on “Preventorium Road.” As the . . .

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