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TB Sanitorium [sic] and Preventorium Go to the 1988 Narrated Version
ca. 1926 / 48:25 View in NLM Digital Collections
Produced by Harry A. Wilmer and Lois Parker
Silent, black-and-white.

In this blurry film with a homemade feel, the camera focuses on seemingly healthy children at a tuberculosis sanatorium near Mont Alto, Pennsylvania in the 1920s. They practice synchronized sunbathing, flipping from stomachs to backs as one. They line up for fresh milk, throw snowballs, and box one another vigorously (girls, too). Such therapies were thought to prevent these children—who were mostly poor and often from immigrant families living in crowded, unhygienic conditions—from contracting tuberculosis. While the sanatorium treated adults who were already ill, the “preventorium” role of the place was more important to the filmmakers, as were the ever-present TB nurses, many drawn from the recovered adult population and trained only to work at sanatoria.

The Library’s holdings include a narrated version of the film created in 1988. A former resident, Walter Zeigler, watched the footage and described his time at South Mountain as he remembered it. Sarah Richards, NLM’s film curator at the time, asked questions along the way. This version of the film is available here.

Fresh Air and the White Plague
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