Category Archives: Public health

Maternal Health Center/Planned Parenthood

The Maternal Health Center, Springfield’s first avowed birth control clinic, was created in 1938 by about a dozen socially prominent women. Its early leaders included Elizabeth “Libby” Lanphier (1908-97), Calista Herndon (1902-83) and Mary “Dougie” Funk (1900-80). The center faced several obstacles … Continue reading

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Fourth of July mayhem, 1907

One of the staples of newspaper journalism in the early 20th century was the annual July 5 roundup of Independence Day mayhem, much of it caused by children’s attraction to fireworks. What probably was the worst local Fourth of July-related … Continue reading

Posted in Celebrations, Children, Local government, Media, Public health | 1 Comment

‘Poor House Rules’ — the drawings of Alfred S. Harkness

Alfred S. Harkness (1866-1941) was an artist, illustrator and engraver whose specialty — at least for part of the time he lived in Springfield — was public health illustration. Harkness had been a member of the artist staff of the … Continue reading

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Sangamon County Jail conditions, 1847 (Dorothea Dix)

Social reformer Dorothea Dix wrote the following letter – Dix characterized similar communications as “memorials” — to the Sangamo Journal and Illinois State Register on Feb. 19, 1847. It was published in the March 4, 1847 edition of the Journal. … Continue reading

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Sangamon County Poor Farm

Sangamon County first created a home to care for the poor, feeble, disabled and mentally ill in 1851, four years after famed social reformer Dorothea Dix wrote a scathing commentary about the county’s practice of keeping paupers and the insane in the … Continue reading

Posted in Local government, Medicine, Public health, Sangamon County, Social services | 5 Comments

Elizabeth Brown Ide

Elizabeth Brown Ide (1873-1978), who was born into money and married more, could have been merely a socialite. Instead, she became Springfield’s most prominent children’s advocate during the early 20th century. Ide’s parents were Christopher Brown and Caroline Owsley Brown, … Continue reading

Posted in Children, Medicine, Prominent figures, Public health, Social services, Springfield Survey, Women | Tagged , | 6 Comments

Franciscan Life Center (Franciscan motherhouse)

The Hospital Sisters of St. Francis, who have served the sick in central Illinois since 1875, have their headquarters on a 300-acre site northeast of Springfield. The order of Roman Catholic nuns purchased the property (then 500 acres) in 1917 … Continue reading

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Children’s physical exams, 1914 (Springfield Survey photo)

The Springfield Survey was a massive study of local schools, prisons, and other institutions undertaken in 1914 by the Russell Sage Foundation with the help of hundreds of local volunteers. Topics covered included schools, care of “mental defectives, the insane … Continue reading

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Lake Springfield

Lake Springfield is a 4,000-acre artificial lake constructed by the city of Springfield in the early 1930s. The lake first reached full pool (560 feet above sea level) on May 2, 1935; it was dedicated in a three-day-long celebration in … Continue reading

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The Open Air Colony (Palmer Tuberculosis Sanatorium)

The Springfield Open Air Colony was a private sanatorium for people suffering from tuberculosis that operated at Chatham Road and Lawrence Avenue from 1913 until the 1940s. The Colony eventually was renamed the Palmer Tuberculosis Sanatorium, after Dr. George T. Palmer, … Continue reading

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