This month I’m starting something new in the Pennsylvania Room: a Book of the Month display. As many of our visitors are from out of the area and only have time to do specific genealogical research, they usually don’t have a chance to crack open one of our local history books. Given the variety and quality of our collection, I think that’s a real shame.
So, each month I want to select a great PA Room resource that isn’t getting enough attention. For February, that book is Jacob Sidwell Hackney’s A History of the Medical Profession of Fayette County.
The larger part of Hackney’s book pertains to Fayette County doctors from the early 1700s up to the book’s publication date in 1924. The text is arranged as a series of profiles that offer information on the doctors’ education, places of practice, and even their personal lives (ex. religion, family, military service). Most at least offer dates of birth and death, and many are accompanied by photographs.
A smaller portion of the History offers information on the medical societies, schools, and institutions of the county. This includes the hospitals in Brownsville, Connellsville, and Uniontown. In addition to the genealogical information that can be gleaned from the lists of personnel, Boards of Trustees, etc., other details offer insight into the nature and spirit of the organizations themselves.
For example, I didn’t know that Brownsville General Hospital — chartered in 1910, the year with the most mining disasters in U.S. history — was “to be operated and maintained upon the express condition that persons injured in the operation of coal mines, coke ovens, railroads, and other industrial enterprises shall have the preference of being received into and treated within said hospital” (Hackney 99-100).
The lack of an index makes this book a little tedious to navigate. But if you have an ancestor who was a Fayette County doctor — or if you simply have an interest in local medical history — it’s a must-read.