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‘Medicine on the Maumee’ exhibit to examine history of health care in region

Clara Church, 8 years old, tetanus, Jan. 29, 1859. Chris Fall, 35 years old, laborer, drinking ice water, May 15, 1860. John Ayers, 32 years old, bad whiskey, June 3, 1863. Theodore Hansen, 27 years old, soldier, starved in Rebel prison, April 3, 1865. Ada Meeker, 1 year old, cholera infantum, Sept. 24, 1865. Susanna H. James, housewife, 23 years old, typhoid fever, Jan. 23, 1866.

These brief entries recorded in the pages of the Record of Deaths in the City of Toledo are more than just statistics. Individually, they hint at lives tragically cut short. Collectively, they tell the story of the difficulties of survival in Toledo in the middle of the 19th century, and the state of medical care in the city at the time.

The exhibition titled “Medicine on the Maumee: A History of Health Care in Northwest Ohio” will open Thursday, March 1, at 3 p.m. in the Ward M. Canaday Center for Special Collections in The University of Toledo’s Carlson Library. The free, public exhibit traces the history of medicine in our community from the earliest years of settlement to current day. It looks at epidemics that devastated the population, hospitals that sought to cure, doctors and nurses who provided care, and at how medicine became an industry.

“While the medical history of northwest Ohio is probably not unique in any of these aspects, how medicine was practiced locally has had a profound impact on who and where we are as a community today,” said Barbara Floyd, director of the Canaday Center and coordinator of the exhibition. “That is because the medical history of a community is a mirror of its social, political, economic and cultural history. Medical history focuses attention on what a community does and does not do to promote the most basic of civic responsibilities — the chance to live a healthy life.”

In addition to items from the Canaday Center’s holdings, the exhibit will incorporate articles borrowed from many local organizations, including Mercy, Mercy College, ProMedica, the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library and the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library. The exhibit will present a unique opportunity to see rare medical history-related items that are not likely to be brought together again in a single exhibit.

This Civil War field amputation kit circa 1861 to 1865 was made by T. Tiemann & Co. of New York and from a collection of historical medical instruments acquired by the former Medical College of Ohio and now housed in the Canaday Center.

Included in the exhibit will be early documentation of medicine in northwest Ohio, including a patient logbook from Dr. Frederick William Jaeger, who practiced medicine in Woodville in the 1840s and 1850s. The logbook is being lent to the exhibition by the Harris-Elmore Public Library.

The exhibit’s opening presentation will be a “living history” re-creation of Jaeger, done by his great-great-grandson, John Jaeger of Perrysburg. Jaeger’s “Black Swamp Doctor” interpretation discusses some of the diseases that were rampant in the early settlements of the region, the plants and medicines used to treat them, and care provided by doctors of the time. Jaeger, who was a naturalist and interpreter for Metroparks of the Toledo Area before his retirement, has won awards for his “Black Swamp Doctor” re-creation.

In addition to early patient logs, the exhibit will feature the minutes of the Academy of Medicine dating back to 1864; these records reveal much about the practice of medicine in the region. Also included are patient logs dating back to the founding of Mercy Hospital and Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center; newsletters written by patients at the William Roche Memorial Tuberculosis Hospital; photographs and scrapbooks documenting now-defunct hospital nursing schools; letters from Civil War doctors from northwest Ohio; and founding documents of the Medical College of Ohio.

The topic of public health will be addressed, and the Toledo-Lucas County Department of Health has loaned its earliest volume of death records from the city of Toledo dating from 1858 to 1871. The records provide a fascinating glimpse into life — and death — in the early years of the city’s history.

Also included are rare medical books, including a first edition of Dr. Daniel Drake’s A Systematic Treatise on the Principal Diseases of the Interior Valley of North America, published in 1850. Drake’s study included documentation of the Black Swamp in northwest Ohio and its impact on disease and medical care in the years immediately following the settlement of Toledo.

An extensive catalog to accompany the exhibit is available free. The catalog was a cooperative project of the staff of the Canaday Center and archivists and librarians from Mercy, Mercy College and ProMedica.

The exhibit will be open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and by appointment through Dec. 28. Group tours also can be arranged.

To accompany its “Medicine on the Maumee” exhibition, the Canaday Center will feature an exhibition of anatomical specimens and medical illustrations prepared by members of UT’s Health Science Campus. “Anatomical Art: The Internal Beauty of the Human Body” will be on display in the art gallery area on the fifth floor of Carlson Library adjacent to the center.

For more information, contact Floyd at 419.530.2170.