Exploring Denver's Medical History

Letters from the Past

Our Partnership

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

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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. 

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Jeanne Abrams

Jeanne Abrams

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.

Meet Jeanne Abrams