Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Sarah Elbert

Second Advisor

William Haver

Third Advisor

Stephen David Ross


In 1884, Edward Livingston Trudeau officially opened The Adirondack Cottage Sanitarium for the treatment of tuberculosis in Saranac Lake, New York. For the next seventy years, what became known as the Trudeau Sanatorium was the model of American sanatoria, promoting fresh air, rest, and nutritious food in the treatment of pulmonary tuberculosis. The introduction and use of antibiotic drugs in the treatment of disease effectively ended the sanatorium movement as well as demarcates an important juncture in American medical and scientific history. Trudeau's treatment and the Sanatorium are interpreted as social and ideological constructs from the perspectives of verbal expression, material culture, written texts, and social behaviors. Within the context of American history and culture, the treatment was informed and influenced by medical history, feminism, religion, popular philosophy, and self-help movements. The medical, scientific, and cultural history of tuberculosis and its variant cures came to be encapsulated and institutionalized in the sanatorium setting. The subjective experience of disease as it was contained within a specific natural and built environment was so profound that many remember their time curing as the best days of their lives.

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