Madison history lesson: Back in time to a different epidemic
In the not-too-distant past, a deadly public health epidemic meant the separation of families.
It’s been two years since the beginning of “lockdown” — a catchall term for that suspended moment in March 2020 when it felt like the entire world stayed home. We thought it would be a few days, then a few weeks. Even after two years of shutdowns, masking and vaccine rollouts, the pandemic still feels surreal. Everyone has suffered — some more than others. Many of us learned to joke about too much time together spent in too-close quarters.
But in the not-too-distant past, a deadly public health epidemic meant the separation of families. Tuberculosis is a bacterial infection now held at bay by vaccines and antibiotics. Particularly from the 1920s through the 1950s, those infected with TB were sent to area sanitariums to isolate and recover. Many were children, and some were separated from their parents for more than a year. In this 1953 Arthur Vinje photo, “shut in” children gather with teacher Barbara Austin in a classroom at Morningside Sanatorium in Monona near the current Aldo Leopold Nature Center. Between 1930 and 1966, Lake View Sanatorium on Northport Drive (now home to the Dane County Department of Human Services and one of the best sledding hills in town) housed 100-150 patients, an operating room and a large porch for breathing fresh air, the best-known treatment at the time.
COPYRIGHT 2022 BY MADISON MAGAZINE. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. THIS MATERIAL MAY NOT BE PUBLISHED, BROADCAST, REWRITTEN OR REDISTRIBUTED.