Curator's Corner Blog

House Call

Many of us take for granted the ease in which we can receive medical care in modern times. We can easily schedule an appointment at the doctor’s office and receive the care we need. If we have more urgent medical needs, there is urgent care or the emergency room. If it is an emergency an ambulance can pick up can get you to a hospital within minutes. However, the idea that ill people should travel to a doctor’s office or hospital is a relatively new idea. As late as the 1970s, a doctor traveling to private homes was a popular way to receive medical care. Due to the need for specialization in the medical field, house calls quickly became a thing of the past.
During the 19th century most medical needs were met by doctors coming into private homes. While a few doctors had private offices, and hospitals did exist, most people in the 19th century lived in rural settings and it was simply easier sending for a doctor. Hospitals at the time were often very dirty and many people knew of dieses being spread there. Doctors were often called for a variety of reasons and had to have knowledge in countless areas of medicine. People would query doctors about tooth aches, stomach problems, broken bones, and many more issues. Because of the wide variety of problems doctors had to deal with they would have to carry as many medications as they could. Since they usually rode a horse or a buggy to the private home, they were usually limited to a single doctor’s bag like the one pictured below. These bags would carry anything from aspirin to chloroform in case surgery was needed.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Doctors bag

House calls for physicians remained popular into the 20th century. By 1930 nearly 30% of all doctor-patients interactions were via house calls. As medicine advanced and doctors began to specialize in certain areas, house calls became rarer. By 1980 only about 1% of doctor-patient interactions were through house calls. There has been a slight surge in house calls the past ten years, but with many doctors needing large machines and instruments to do their jobs, house calls are considered a thing of the past.

Gas Masks

With the onset of World War II many world leaders were concerned about chemical warfare becoming a factor in in the war. This fear led to massive manufacturing and distribution of various types of gas masks. The anxiety of chemical warfare came from ... Read more.

The Homestead Act and Westward Expansion.

  The wagon train is one of the iconic images of the Western part of the United States. Most great western films have the quintessential wagon train jerking through a flawless prairie heading west. There is a historical context to this perceptio ... Read more.

Artists Imprisoned: Italian Internees During WWII

This morning, I spent some time digging around in the basement of the museum. It was cold. White sheets covered antique mirrors, highboys, skis, a doll stroller. Bare light bulbs hung at the end of each row, casting shallow shadows on the concrete fl ... Read more.

Courage, Creativity, and Imagination: A Doll Story

  A couple weeks ago, I watched an episode of Museum Secrets while riding an old exercise bike in front of the TV on a rainy day. This particular episode explored the Imperial War Museum in London: the technological development of illusory army ... Read more.

A bike ride to celebrate America’s birthday…

A couple weeks ago, I headed up to Glacier National Park to bike the Going-to-the-Sun Road from Apgar Village to Logan Pass. My friend and I had planned the trip nearly two months beforehand, had taken time off from work, had tuned up our bikes, aire ... Read more.

The Flags over Iwo Jima: What’s Fort Missoula’s Connection?

This week, millions of American flags will be raised across the country to commemorate the signing of the Declaration of Independence 238 years ago. As my own small tribute to the founding fathers, I decided to take a look at Fort Missoula’s collec ... Read more.

Discovering what it means to be a lookout! And more about Sliderock Lookout

This weekend, from June 27th through the 29th, Darby, Montana will be hosting the annual Forest Fire Lookout Association’s Western Regional Conference—perfect timing as we dive deeper into Fort Missoula’s own historic lookout with a real lookou ... Read more.

Touring the Smokejumper Base Today!

It’s mid June and the Smokejumper Base is bustling with preparatory activity.  I popped over there for a tour this morning and saw men at sewing machines stitching together equipment for the jumps, others airing out used parachutes—checking them ... Read more.

Inaugurating the Smokejumper Base, 1954

Summer is here and that means the start of fire season.  Missoula saw epic snowfall this year, which I hope means that the forest fires will be pretty moderate (is nonexistent asking too much?).  Friends who work for the forest service, however, li ... Read more.

The Case of the Curious Curator: Timberjack

I’m looking at this train right now, circa 1931. One out of 3,000 steam engine locomotives left in the country. The metal is corroded, there are jagged holes throughout its frame. Its dusty, rusty, faded– past its prime. There’s som ... Read more.