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.
This Tuberculosis Thursday, we want to share a bit about medical quackery and "consumption" (AKA tuberculosis). This flyer for the Electricity Cough and Consumption Cure advertised its ability to cure "hopeless cases of consumption, asthma, pneumonia, pleurisy, and bronchitis."
We don't know for sure what was in this particular product, but similar tonics advertised to "cure" TB would often contain high levels of alcohol, opium, heroin, cocaine, chloroform, and more. For decades, desperate health seekers would purchase these concoctions. At best, they might help relieve or mask symptoms, but were absolutely ineffective against the tubercle bacillus. At worst, these products could contain deadly ingredients such as arsenic, creosote, and so on.
Did you see our "Medical Marvels" exhibit at the Saranac Laboratory Museum in 2014-15? We shared many more examples of medical quackery across the years!
[Historic Saranac Lake Collection, TCR 680. Courtesy of Karen Lewis and Beth Glover.]
This Tuberculosis Thursday, we’re celebrating National Poetry Month! John Theodore Dalton came to Saranac Lake to take the cure in 1923. While at Trudeau Sanatorium, he wrote poems, music, and plays, and after his death, a number of his poems were saved and published. Here’s one of his poems from “The Land of Dreams and other poems” that feels fitting for today’s spring weather. The second poem shows his interest in the works of Adelaide Crapsey, as well as his sense of humor. Happy National Poetry Month!
Learn more about John T. Dalton on our wiki!
Did you know that dogs could come take the cure at Trudeau Sanatorium? Just kidding - history hasn't gone to the dogs, but we couldn't resist this pup on a cure porch for an April Fools' Tuberculosis Thursday!
This photograph of a very good visitor at Phoenix Cottage was taken by Roger Parish while curing at Trudeau Sanatorium in the late 1930s. Roger kept an extensive album showing the Sanatorium grounds, his cottage, fellow patients, and the fun they had while taking the cure. His son Tom recently donated the album to us and we're excited to catalog the images and share more of them with you! Stay tuned!
Historic Saranac Lake Collection, TCR 678. Courtesy of Tom Parish, in memory of Roger Havens Parish.
As we mark the last Tuberculosis Thursday of Women's History Month, we want to share a bit about Stony Wold Sanatorium. Stony Wold was started by Elizabeth Newcomb to serve as a sanatorium for underprivileged young women suffering from TB. It opened on Lake Kushaqua in 1901, and at its peak in the 1930s it consisted of 20 buildings and a farm, and generated its own electricity.
Thousands came to cure at Stony Wold, including Lillian Synoracki Wilczak, who is pictured, waving, at bottom left in this group photo in the late 1920s. The Sanatorium also treated children, and eventually allowed some men. Elizabeth Newcomb died of tuberculosis in 1938 and was buried on the property. Stony Wold closed in 1955.
Learn more about Stony Wold and some of the women in its history on our wiki.
[Historic Saranac Lake Collection, TCR 638. Courtesy of Karen Jacobs.]
This week's Tuberculosis Thursday feature is Elizabeth Widmer. Widmer was from Berne, Switzerland, and came to Saranac Lake as a patient after graduating from Johns Hopkins Nursing School. She also worked as a nurse in Saranac Lake. She cured in a few locations around Saranac Lake, including Trudeau Sanatorium. She married Beanie Barnet, publisher of the Trotty Veck Messengers, in 1940 at William Morris' Camp Intermission. Their family always included a cocker spaniel. Pictured here is Breezy, who apparently preferred hamburger!
[Photograph of Beanie and Elizabeth Widmer Barnet, and their dog, Breezy. Historic Saranac Lake Collection.]
For Tuberculosis Thursday, we want to tell a bit of the story of Jean Monaghan, and share an exciting new donation to the collection in her honor. Jean was a patient at Stony Wold Sanatorium in the 1940s. She was a talented artist, and her time as a patient instilled in her a love of nature and an appreciation for its healing benefits. After her successful cure, she pursued a career in apparel design, and continued to create art for pleasure. When she died, she left behind more than 100 paintings, drawings, and photographs from her lifelong love of the arts.
While Jean did not discuss the details of her illness while she was alive, her nephew Philip recognized her in a photograph at Stony Wold in the American Experience documentary, the Forgotten Plague. This chance moment led to a visit in 2018 to the Saranac Laboratory Museum to find out more about her time as a patient, and a connection with Historic Saranac Lake. This winter, Philip generously donated a portfolio of 10 pieces that Jean painted while curing, including this self-portrait at right. We are hard at work rehousing and cataloging these fascinating paintings, but we couldn't wait to share a peek at them. Stay tuned for more on Jean's life and the works she produced at Stony Wold!
[Photograph of two of Jean Monaghan's paintings; one landscape showing the water tower at Stony Wold, and one self-portrait. Photograph of Jean Monaghan and her parents and siblings during a visit at Stony Wold, 1940s. Historic Saranac Lake Collection, TCR 671. Courtesy of Philip Monaghan, in memory of Jean Monaghan, 1923-2011.]
This Tuberculosis Thursday marks the 125th birthday of John Baxter Black. Black is shown here in a painting that hangs in the library named for him at the Saranac Laboratory. Black served in several capacities during World War I, including serving in the French Army and driving ambulances. He developed tuberculosis in May of 1918 and was sent to Saranac Lake to cure in July of that year. He cured for five years, and after regaining his health, went to Montreal for a final corrective surgery. Unfortunately Black died from complications from the surgery.
The Black Family, owners of the Ohio Brass Company in Mansfield, Ohio, donated money to expand the Saranac Laboratory and create a research library in his honor. These days, the John Black Room houses rotating exhibits and provides space for lectures and events at the museum. John Black still looks out over the room from this painting today.
To learn more about John Baxter Black, visit our wiki.
This Tuberculosis Thursday, we're taking the fresh air cure (and having a little fun!). This undated--and slightly edited--photo shows the importance of bundling up when sitting out on your cure porch in the wintertime. Tuberculosis patients would sit out on cure chairs piled high with fur coats, heavy blankets, and even handmade mittens!
To learn more about the other important components of the treatment TB patients received in Saranac Lake, visit our wiki.
[Original photograph: Historic Saranac Lake collection, TCR 226]
It's Tuberculosis Thursday! Saranac Lake is all lit up right now for the Saranac Lake Area Chamber of Commerce's Light Up the Town event, which made us think of this photo from Trudeau Sanatorium. This glowing tree was seen in front of the Mellon Library at Trudeau in 1931. Have you explored around town to see all of the holiday cheer?
Learn more about the Mellon Library on our wiki: https://localwiki.org/hsl/Mellon_Library
[Historic Saranac Lake Collection, ACC 2020.010. Courtesy of Jan Dudones.]
Stay up to date on all the news and happenings from Historic Saranac Lake at the Saranac Laboratory Museum!