Exploring Denver's Medical History
Letters from the Past
DU researchers, including Jeanne Abrams, worked with academic partners at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, to use handwritten text recognition technologies to explore the medical history of the city of Denver. We believe the research and ingenuity achieved by collaborating with partners like UNLV is essential to strengthen our understanding of the past and use that to inform future decisions.
About Our Research
We leverage cross-institutional collaboration to address some of today’s most pressing challenges, producing interdisciplinary solutions that influence policymakers to effectively serve the public good. From Stanford to UChicago to NYU, we’ve refined our collaborative process through years of mutually beneficial relationships with institutions nationwide to understand and address challenges like climate change, HIV and youth homelessness.
DU’s current research efforts have been featured in news outlets like The New York Times. They include…
- exploring the effects of felony disenfranchisement.
- employing lasers as the medium for quantum science.
- using theatre to heal and rehabilitate inmates.
About the Project
With clean air and sunshine as the only known cure at the time, the late 19th century made Denver a common destination for individuals suffering from tuberculosis. By the 1890s, it was estimated that one-third of Colorado's residents were in the state for respiratory reasons. By examining this period in Colorado history, we were able to develop new insights on the history of tuberculosis treatment.
The primary sources for this exploration were transcripts drawn from the Jewish Consumptives' Relief Society Records' Denver sanatorium. These records were published using handwritten text recognition technology, which unlocks transcriptions that have previously been unavailable through traditional processes.
In addition to allowing us to explore the history of tuberculosis treatment, this work also gave us a unique window into immigration into the Rocky Mountain region in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Jeanne Abrams is a professor at the University of Denver's University Libraries, and Director of the Rocky Mountain Jewish Historical Society and Beck Archives—part of DU's Center for Judaic Studies. Her work focuses on American Jewish and American history, and she's authored works on iconic first ladies, revolutionary war-era medicine and Jewish pioneers in the American West.