The smell of lilacs is in the air all around Saranac Lake, so we thought we'd share this springy photograph of Trudeau Sanatorium for Tuberculosis Thursday. This photograph shows the path to the post office through the Sanatorium campus sometime between 1906 and 1928. Little Red is just visible behind the dining room annex of the Administration Building.
This photograph is also a sneak peek at a really important collections donation we just received. Our Archivist/Curator Chessie is working on inventorying the donation, so stay tuned for more news!
[Historic Saranac Lake Collection, TCR 682. Courtesy of Trudeau Institute.]
Tour the grounds of the former Trudeau Sanatorium at 1:00PM on Tuesday, June 8. This is an entirely outdoor walking tour and takes place rain or shine. $10/person, children and members of Historic Saranac Lake free. Click here to buy tickets.
Advance ticket purchases or RSVPs required by noon on the Monday before the tour. A maximum of 8 tickets will be available for this tour. Tickets are non-refundable.
If you wish to reserve a ticket but do not want to purchase one online, please call HSL at 518-891-4606 or email us to guarantee a ticket. Members of HSL should also contact us to reserve a spot. You will receive an email from us with instructions on where to meet our guide the day before the tour.
Welcome Mahala! We are thrilled to welcome Mahala Nyberg as our new Public Programs Coordinator! Mahala has a Master’s in Public History with a certificate in Digital Humanities from Northeastern University, and B.A. in History and Archaeology from SUNY Potsdam. She believes that museums can serve as hubs for education, positive change, and public service. Mahala looks forward to interacting with museum visitors and is interested in exploring innovative paths for museum education, public programs, and digital initiatives. Previously, she worked at the Old Stone House Museum in Brownington, Vermont, as the Associate Director of Collections and Programs. Her work experience includes education and interpretation at museums in and around Boston. In her free time, Mahala enjoys spending time outdoors and adding to the list of lakes and rivers she has paddled with her kayak.
Come say hello to Mahala at the Saranac Laboratory Museum; we reopen tomorrow!
The Saranac Laboratory Museum is reopening to the public! We are so excited to welcome you all back! We are offering timed entry tickets that can be purchased online in advance.
We will now be open our usual hours, Tuesday-Saturday from 10AM to 5PM. Timed entry tickets are not required but recommended; you may have a short wait if you do not purchase tickets. Masks will be required. Please see the Visit page for for more information!
Separated from loved ones during the pandemic, many of us have been staying in touch with good old fashioned postcards. Americans’ love of postcards dates back to 1893, when the first souvenir postcards were sold at the World Columbian Exposition in Chicago. The postcard craze caught on quickly. By 1915, millions of postcards changed hands. Many were carefully preserved in albums and displayed in homes across America. Before radio and television, postcard collections provided entertainment and a window into the wider world.
Historic Saranac Lake recently acquired a wonderful album of some 80 postcards portraying the daily life of TB patients in Saranac Lake during the early 1900s. Over many years, Florence Wright carefully collected and preserved cards mailed from the booming health resort. One postcard, sent in 1909, summed up Saranac Lake at the time, "We leave here today, had a big time. The Village is just fine, lots of sick people here."
In the early 1900s, postcards were printed in Germany by highly specialized printers, and the images are startlingly clear. Beautiful buildings appear in now empty lots, a horse pulls a pair of friends in a sleigh down Main Street, a speed skater takes a turn.
At first, postal regulations prohibited writing on the flip side, so senders wrote messages over the image on the front. Eventually, rules changed and allowed for writing on the back, making for longer and more interesting messages. Looking at old postcards, one phrase at a time, human experience comes into focus, from the mundane to the deeply personal.
Many of the cards from Saranac Lake are written by TB patients. They describe intense cold on cure porches and personal health facts like daily temperature readings and weight gain. Messages tend to be short, and many sentences are fragments. Yet there is often an easy familiarity between the sender and receiver. Many of the postcards are clearly written in the context of frequent exchanges of letters and cards.
Just before WWI, the U.S. enacted tariffs that disrupted the postcard industry. Printing moved from specialized German companies to firms here at home that lacked the technology and expertise to create clear images. Inferior, cheap postcards flooded the market, and the postcard craze started to wane. Still, postcards continued to be purchased and shared, documenting daily life in the health resort.
Florence’s postcards show that one hundred years ago, people were coping with the personal and public health threat of tuberculosis in many of the same ways we are responding to the pandemic today, with a mix of worry, fear, and sadness, but also hope, gratitude, and love. Each postcard is a poignant statement of the human need to connect with one another. In 1908, one person wrote to a friend in Cazenovia, “I can't help but be a bit lonesome. Still people are very kind to me. Be sure and write soon."
This summer we will unveil a new exhibit titled, “Pandemic Perspectives,” exploring connections between our experience of the current pandemic and life in Saranac Lake during the TB years. The exhibit will include some of Florence’s postcards, and visitors will be invited to write their own notes describing what they have felt in the past year. We hope you will come drop us a line!
RESOURCE: “Wish You Were Here!: The Story of the Golden Age of Picture Postcards in the United States,” by Fred Bassett, Senior Librarian, Manuscripts and Special Collections, New York State Library. 2016.
May 17 marks Norwegian Constitution Day, so this Tuberculosis Thursday, we want to share about a surprising connection between Saranac Lake and Norway. When the Nazis invaded Norway in 1940, many Norwegian merchant seamen who were at sea at the time came to the US and other allied countries, in the hope of joining the war effort. Given a medical examination in New York City, a number were found to be suffering from tuberculosis, and many of these found their way to Saranac Lake. It is difficult to know how many came, as they were spread among many different cure cottages, but the number may have been as high as five hundred.
During the 1940s, sixteen died in Saranac Lake, fifteen men and one woman, a sea captain's daughter; they are buried in a special section of Pine Ridge Cemetery that is maintained yearly at the expense of the Norwegian government. This photograph shows the marker in the Norwegian section, which reads: "In memory of Norwegian seafarers who died fighting for the liberation of their country, 1940-1945."
To learn more about the Norwegians who came to Saranac Lake, and the continued connection between our village and the Norwegian government, visit our wiki.
Join us on Tuesday, May 25 at 5PM to take a tour of one of Saranac Lake's first cure cottages! You will get to go inside Little Red, visit the statue of Dr. Edward L. Trudeau, and learn about their history and significance. Advance ticket purchases or RSVPs are required in advance by noon on the Monday before the tour. A maximum of 8 tickets will be available for this tour. Tickets are non-refundable. Masks are required! Rain or shine. $10/person, children and members of Historic Saranac Lake free. Tickets include same-day admission to the Saranac Laboratory Museum. If you wish to reserve a ticket but do not want to purchase one online, please call HSL at 518-891-4606 or email us to guarantee a ticket. You will receive an email from us with instructions on where to meet our guide the day before the tour. Purchase tickets here.
Stay up to date on all the news and happenings from Historic Saranac Lake at the Saranac Laboratory Museum!