On his tour of America Charles Dickens was disgusted by the “odious practices of chewing and expectorating” tobacco, a “filthy custom” that he had observed in both streets and public buildings. From courts of law to hospitals, spittoons could be seen where men were permitted to “spit incessantly” (American Notes, chapter VIII). [Read more…] about A Short History of Spitting: TB, Influenza, Covid and Public Policy in New York City
Patent medicines, packaged drugs with incompletely disclosed contents, were plentiful and profitable in the United States from the period directly following the Civil War through the early twentieth century.
Before the first Pure Food and Drug Laws were passed, the manufacturers and promoters of patent medicines made millions of dollars from a credulous public eager for cures for a variety of ailments, and from many who were unable to afford the regular care of a doctor. [Read more…] about Patent Medicine History: Schenectady’s Pink Pills for Pale People
One was an epidemic of nerves (neurasthenia) among the well-heeled; the other a slide towards degradation in inner-city slums.
In the battle for social regeneration, the need for physical exercise was emphasized. Man had to flex his muscles; his body needed rebuilding. [Read more…] about Newyorkitis, Bodybuilding, Gymnastics & The Origins of Pilates
One of the things I am missing this summer is the theater. From Broadway in the city of New York to Pendragon Theatre in the Adirondacks and everywhere in between, stages have gone dark.
Actors are a lively, irrepressible bunch, and so it’s a testament to the seriousness of the ongoing pandemic that theaters are closed. [Read more…] about Eddie Cantor, Will Rogers, William Morris and Saranac Lake
A lecture on the 1918 influenza epidemic in the Finger Lakes has been set for Thursday, September 6th at 7 pm, at the Cayuga Museum’s Carriage House Theater in Auburn.
Medical historian and retired professor Teresa Lehr will discuss the flu pandemic, and specifically its local effects. [Read more…] about 1918 Influenza Outbreak In The Finger Lakes
This week on The Historians Podcast, Peter Betz, history columnist for the Leader Herald newspaper in Gloversville, has stories on the local impact of the 1918 influenza pandemic, some notorious Fulton County jail escapes, and the Airship Gelatin, funded by Johnstown’s Knox family.
This week on The Historians Podcast, Jerry Snyder of Historic Amsterdam League discusses the group’s Amsterdam Icons Calendar for 2018 which focuses on city history in 1918 — the Great War, the influenza epidemic, the temperance movement and more.
Our current flu season is a reminder that not so long ago the 1918 Influenza Pandemic – known then as the “Spanish Flu” or “La Grippe” – killed over 22 million people. It sickened thousands in Northern New York and killed hundreds.
The first documented case occurred on March 11, 1918 at Camp Funston, Kansas. By the end of that week more than 500 soldiers had been sickened. Influenza first spread through army bases, but by September 5th the Massachusetts State Department of Health warned that “unless precautions are taken, the disease in all probability will spread to the civilian population,” which it did. By October 22nd the city of Philadelphia’s death rate was 700 times higher than normal for a single week. [Read more…] about Ogdensburg and the 1918 Influenza Pandemic
Last week, I summarized the medical issues of a military and political figure in the American colonial period: George Washington (1732 – 1799). Today, I’ll describes briefly how each of those issues was treated.
At the time of the American Revolution, the biggest menace wasn’t the enemy in red coats – it was disease. Despite a rapidly expanding urbanization in the American colonies, virtually nothing was known about food, aerosols, close contact, fleas and mosquitoes as the sources of contagion. Without any protective measures or effective treatments, any day could bring a debilitating and often fatal illness to anyone, and sometimes to a whole family. Life – in a word – was tenuous. [Read more…] about Colonial Medicine: Treating George Washington
The soldier and statesman described here lived a long life but had to endure many serious medical issues. While he was an ‘out-of-stater’, he was in New York for many years during the Revolutionary War and through the first critical years of the founding of a new government. [Read more…] about Colonial Medicine: A Case Study