Thursday, May 26, 2011

Mystery History -- Solved!

Update (5/26, 11:20 a.m.): I'm giving Sid a prize just for all the wonderful work he does as Pasadena's favorite and most renowned historic photo archivist!

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Sid Gally got it right, but he's a leading archivist of historic photos in Pasadena, so he's disqualified from winning the prize. Nice try though, Sid!

In the circa 1924 photo above, boys ages 6 to 14 with medical issues such as low weight, chronic fatigue, anemia and malnourishment soak up the sunshine under the supervision of a nurse at the Pasadena Preventorium built on about 10 acres that overlooked the Arroyo Seco.

Established in 1922 and one of several in the nation, it was designed to help build up the boys' strength through exercise, rest and sunshine while keeping them in isolation to help prevent the highly contagious disease from invading their bodies.

Several partner agencies were involved in the establishment and management of the site, including the city, the school district and the Pasadena Tuberculosis Society. In addition to providing as much care and activity as possible to help prevent tuberculosis in the children, there was an on-site school to ensure that their daily lessons would continue. Monetary donations from the community helped sustain many of the fiscal needs.

Prior and into the 1920s and 1930s, many children in the U.S. died of tuberculosis, so it was considered prudent to establish these preventoriums to help ensure they would grow up to be healthy adults.

The preventorium accepted only boys in its early years; female children were welcomed after a capital campaign for the purchase of a new site for a girls' wing.

Excerpt from an April 11, 1928, article in the Los Angeles Times about the fund-raising campaign:
The fact that sun bathing is an important part of the children's routine at the schools makes it desirable to separate the boys' and girls' divisions, according to Mrs. J. Ross Charles, president of the council.
Donations to the preventorium were also important for the sponsorship of frail children from low-income families. The same was the case with summer camps for pre-tubercular boys.

Here's a photo from one of the local summer camps:

Do you know the Pasadena Public Health Department maintains a tuberculosis clinic to this day? Learn more here.

Many thanks to Pasadena Public Library and Pasadena Museum of History.


Petrea Burchard said...

Poor Sid! I think he deserves a mug or a t-shirt for the great work he does. Tell you what, Sid, I have a brand new City of Pasadena keychain. I'll bring it by the archives for you one of these days.

Ann (or maybe Sid), do you know where the Preventorium was, exactly? Do any traces of it remain?

pasadenapio said...

You're right, Petrea. I'll give Sid a souvenir for all the great work he does!

Susan Campisi said...

What a fascinating bit of history. I had no idea such a place existed.

Petrea Burchard said...

That's okay, Ann, I'll give him my keychain. If he thinks he can horn in and win every week we're all in trouble.

Bellis said...

Interesting that exposure to the health-giving rays of the sun was thought to be a good thing in those days (it is). Modern parents have been made to be very afraid of sunshine, and many don't let any rays at all reach their young children's skin. Now they're getting rickets.

Melissa Culley said...

Mrs. J. Ross Charles was my grandmother..