June is National Dairy Month, so here's a look at breakfast for a patient at Trudeau Sanatorium in the 1940s. Patient Ken Ho meticulously documented his experience seeking the cure. He noted that breakfast included French toast, cereal, an orange, coffee, tea, and two bottles of milk. TB patients often drank up to 8 glasses of milk a day in order to try to gain weight.
[Historic Saranac Lake Collection, 2022.12.1.13.2. Gift of the Family of Ken Ho.]
This Tuberculosis Thursday, we have an exciting new group of digitized materials on our online catalog! The Tarsilla and William J. Schuster Collection documents the couple's experiences as patients at the New York State Hospital at Ray Brook (AKA Ray Brook Sanatorium).
William first arrived as a patient at Ray Brook in 1908 while he and Tarsilla were engaged to be married. He returned home to Schenectady after a year, and they married. They had welcomed two children by the time he was readmitted as a patient in 1913, and he did not return home until 1916. Tarsilla was admitted as a patient for a short period in 1914 as well. William documented life at Ray Brook with his Brownie camera, and often sold his photographs as postcards to make some pocket money.
These photographs, postcards, and letters document their relationship, their experiences, and the connections they made with fellow patients during these years. We are grateful to the Cromie family for loaning us this rich collection to scan and make available to the public.
Browse the collection on our PastPerfect Online database.
[Tarsilla and William Schuster in Ray Brook, c. 1914. Historic Saranac Lake Collection, 2021.1.93. Courtesy of John Cromie.]
In honor of World TB Day and Tuberculosis Thursday, we are proud to share the news about an important collection now available to browse in our online collections database. The Florence Wright Tuberculosis Postcard Collection provides an intimate look at the lives of the TB patients who came to Saranac Lake in search of a cure between the 1880s and 1950s. The first half of this 130+ card collection has been cataloged, transcribed, and digitized, and is now available to browse for free on our PastPerfect Online Collections Database.
Patients were often only allowed to write a single postcard a day in order to maintain their strength, so these cards contain intensely personal news about their physical and mental health. These cards report on accommodations, weight gain, activities, relationships, and even deaths. They contain messages of hope, excitement, sadness, and of course, loneliness, like this 1906 card with the simple message, "Rather lonesome."
The Florence Wright Tuberculosis Postcard Collection is a passion project assembled by Florence Wright over more than 20 years, and donated to Historic Saranac Lake in 2021! Florence became an avid stamp and Christmas Seal collector in retirement, and started to notice these missives from TB patients and their families at stamp shows. She began collecting cards that showed TB sanatoria and cure cottages, especially ones with messages relating to TB treatment. We are so grateful to Florence for her thoughtful donation to our organization, and hope that you learn as much as we have by exploring them. The second half of the collection should be completed and up online by the end of next week!
Have a question about our collections or our online database? Send us a message on social media or email us!
[Front side of postcard showing village of Saranac Lake with message, "Rather lonesome" written at bottom, 1906. Historic Saranac Lake Collection, 2021.3.24. Courtesy of the Florence Wright Tuberculosis Postcard Collection.]
We have a festive #TuberculosisThursday for you this week! This photograph of the dining room at the Adirondack Cottage Sanitarium (later Trudeau Sanatorium) in 1913 is all ready for a lovely Christmas dinner. We have shared a few holiday menus before, so we know the patients had big feasts! How do you decorate your dining room for the holiday season?
Have a safe and happy Christmas weekend! Don't forget - the Saranac Laboratory Museum is open today until 5PM and closed 12/24 and 12/25.
[Historic Saranac Lake Collection, TCR 248. Courtesy of Trudeau Institute.]
In honor of Veterans Day, our Tuberculosis Thursday feature is John Baxter Black. Black served in various roles with the French and American armies in World War I after attending Princeton University. He contracted intestinal tuberculosis after attending the French Artillery School, and was sent home to recover in May of 1918. He came to Saranac Lake and stayed for five years, renting three different houses.
By 1923, he was feeling recovered, and went to Montreal for a final corrective surgery. Unfortunately, Black died of complications from the surgery on May 16 of that year.
His family dedicated the expansion of the Saranac Laboratory, including the John Black Room, in his memory. This portrait of Black hangs in the room today.
There are many Saranac Lakers who served in our military throughout history. Learn about them on our wiki: https://localwiki.org/hsl/Veterans
This week’s Tuberculosis Thursday feature are the murals of Dr. Norman Bethune. Dr. Bethune created the works while curing at Trudeau Sanatorium in the mid-1920s; they depict the journey to defeat tuberculosis. A portion of the murals is pictured here. The murals were five by sixty feet long, and drawn on brown paper mounted on the walls of his cure cottage. The black area is where a doorway interrupted the work.
The Monsters are labeled Scaley Scarlatina, Diphtheria, Infantile Paralysis, Rheumatic Fever, Whooping Cough, Measles, and the numerous "TB Bats". Sir Shick is named for American pediatrician Bela Shick, who developed a test for Diptheria. The caption reads "Scene II, Childhood. From Dragon Diph. Sir Shick defends, From other beasts he cannot save, The wounds and scars of their attacks, He'll carry to his grave."
Unfortunately, the murals have been lost throughout the years and only photographs remain. To learn more about the fascinating life of Dr. Bethune, head to our wiki.
Or, check out the book “the Bethune Murals” by Tony Holtzman, which was inspired by the hunt for the missing murals.
This week's Tuberculosis Thursday feature is the Sageman Cottage. The cottage, located at what is now 63 Park Avenue, has many stories to tell in its history! It is the oldest house in the Cottage Row district, and at one point it was one of seven cottages with a contract with the Veterans Administration to care for tubercular soldiers.
Bela Bartok and his wife Dita stayed on the property in 1943, and it also played host to at least one Norwegian sailor, Alfred Larsen.
You can learn more of the Sageman Cottage's history on our wiki.
Stay up to date on all the news and happenings from Historic Saranac Lake at the Saranac Laboratory Museum!