Cobblestone Museum will host lectures on WNY, Orleans medical history

Staff Reports Posted 31 July 2014 at 12:00 am

GAINES – The Cobblestone Society Museum will kick off a new four-part lecture series next month about medical care and its history in Western New York.

The lectures all begin at 4 p.m. on Sundays at the Cobblestone Church, 14389 Ridge Rd. There is a $5 suggested donation. That price includes admission to an exhibit about early physicians and medicine in Orleans County.

That exhibit is in the first floor of the historic church and highlights more than 20 doctors from the county. The exhibit includes some of their tools and equipment, including a bag used for house calls. (Orleans Hub will feature that exhibit in a separate article to be posted soon.)

The lecture series is designed to bring more visitors to the museum and highlight pioneering medical care in the region.

The following lectures are planned at the museum:

The Development of Buffalo’s Medical School

Dr. Ronald Batt

Dr. Ronald Batt from the University at Buffalo will be the first speaker in the series on Aug. 17.

Founded on May 11, 1846, The University of Buffalo was established to train local physicians in the Buffalo area. Opening in 1847, the University welcomed Millard Fillmore as the first chancellor. He filled the position in a part-time capacity while serving as President of the United States. The establishment of Buffalo’s Medical School represents an important part in the growth of Western New York.

Batt is a professor of clinical gynecology at SUNY University at Buffalo. His master’s thesis was focused around the development and formation of Buffalo’s Medical School and the history of the Buffalo area.

The museum will have a special artifact on loan for this event: a death mask of Dr. Roswell Park. Several masks were cast following Dr. Park’s death in 1914, including those in the collections of the Buffalo Historical Society and the University at Buffalo’s Medical Sciences Library. This is believed to be the third of three that were cast.

The Search for Health: Sanitariums and Health Resorts of WNY

Erica Wanecski of the Medina Historical Society will discuss health resorts during a lecture at 4 p.m. on Aug. 31.

Wanecski has worked in the medical field for more than 20 years. She currently works in the education field with deaf children.

Provided photo – Pictured is the Battle Creek Sanitarium in Battle Creek, Mich. It first opened in 1866 as the Western Health Reform Institute and was operated by John Harvey Kellogg (inventor of corn flakes) in the mid-1870s.

With an interest in history, she became curious about the history of the Castle on the Hill, a health resort and sanitarium in Dansville. She researched health spas, patent medicines and other medical-related topics. This presentation will focus on the history of Sanitariums and Health Resorts in Western New York.

Sanitariums existed during a time when medicinal treatments for ailments such as Tuberculosis were non-existent. The concept of health resorts and sanitariums developed into an idea similar to luxury resorts where members of the middle and upper class would travel away from home to experience state-of-the-art medical treatments guaranteed to improve their quality of life.

Trivial Tales of Orleans County Physicians

Orleans County Historian Bill Lattin will give this lecture at 4 p.m. on Sept. 14. Lattin will share human-interest stories from his up-and-coming book.

The program will include stories about several of the physicians featured in the Cobblestone Museum exhibit and others who have practiced throughout the area in the last 100 years.

Come join us as we hear the history of Orleans County’s finest physicians, told from an amusing and entertaining perspective.

Dying on Script: A Look at Victorian Attitudes Towards Illness and Death in the 19th Century

Derek Maxfield, GCC professor

Derek Maxfield, a history professor at Genesee Community College, will give a lecture, “Dying on Script: A Look at Victorian Attitudes Towards Illness and Death in the 19th Century.”

Maxfield’s presentation at 4 p.m. on Sept. 28 will explore the effects of medicine on the lives of families during the Victorian era. Looking back, many would consider the attitudes relating to death to be a morbid fascination or obsession.

Social norms developed around extended periods of mourning, a dictation of mourning dress, and exorbitant and extravagant funerals. A “Cult of Death” seemed to develop as families invested in mourning art, jewelry made from the hair of deceased loved ones, post-mortem photographs, and expensive cemetery monuments adorned with symbolism.

Maxfield will highlight a unique aspect of Victorian culture, representing the “final stage” in the 19th century treatment of severe medical ailments.

The lecture series is made possible through Genesee-Orleans Regional Arts Council and the New York State Council on the Arts.