Archivist and Special Collections Librarian
I spent the last couple of weeks processing the records of the San Jacinto Lung Association. It’s a small collection, only 12 boxes, that includes correspondence, tuberculosis statistics, scrapbooks, Christmas seals, and photographs of the organization’s history, community services, staff, and administration from 1911 and into the 1980s. Most notably, the collection highlights the organization’s public health programs to prevent and control tuberculosis, the major health crisis of the early 20th Century. The finding aid for the San Jacinto Lung Association is available on our website.
Led by Dr. Elva A. Wright, the San Jacinto Lung Association was first established on November 11, 1911 as the Houston Anti-Tuberculosis League. At the time Houston had a higher death rate of tuberculosis than the national average with two in 1000 persons dying from the disease in 1910. The Association was a non-profit, community-driven organization dedicated to engage the people of Houston to control, prevent, and educate the community about tuberculosis. Its primary focus and goals were to:
Educate public of cause and symptoms.
Promote healthy living.
Establish free clinic.
Employ visiting public health nurses.
Develop sanitariums and hospitals.
Advocate for laws to control tuberculosis.
Encourage city and county health departments to lead fight.
Through the years the San Jacinto Lung Association operated daily clinics for treatment and diagnosis of tuberculosis as well as conducted mass-screenings using chest X-rays and skin tests. In 1945 the Association started its mobile unit service, which brought screening and X-ray services into neighborhoods around Houston and Harris County. As the the prevention and treatment of tuberculosis became more effective, the Association started to address other respiratory diseases, providing lung performance tests to screen for emphysema and asthma.
The Texas Medical Center Library. 1133 John Freeman Blvd, Houston, TX 77030