In June 1910, wishing to establish a tuberculosis prevention program in Oxfordshire, Osler sent a circular letter to all the
local branches of Britain's National Association for the Prevention of Tuberculosis, asking about their activities and
experiences. He received a number of replies, including this one, which illustrates the strategies used by the association's
Dublin branch, and the influence of the Women's Health Association there.
Item is handwritten.
Number of Image Pages:
9 (1,906,504 Bytes)
1910-06-11 (June 11, 1910)
Original Repository: Alan Mason Chesney Medical Archives. William Osler Collection
This item is in the public domain. It may be used without permission.
Medical Subject Headings (MeSH):
Sir William: Regius Professor at Oxford, 1905-1919
June 11th. 1910.
Dear Professor Osler,
In reply to your note of June 6th regarding the organization of our Branch of the National Association, I think it may be
of some slight service if I give you a sketch of its history and of the work which it has done.
The foundation was primarily due to the Dublin University Biological Association, A body composed chiefly of medical students
at Trinity College, Dublin.
During the Session of 1898-99 the subject of the Prevention of Consumption had been considered at the Meetings
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of the Association and a memorial [sic] was transmitted, I think at the instigation of Dr. Percy Kirkpatrick, to the Royal
Academy of Medicine asking that body to take steps to bring public opinion to bear upon the matter.
This resulted in the calling of a Conference which met at the Royal College of Physicians under the Presidency of the Lord
Lienben[?] and Earl Cadogan, K. G., on July 1st 1899. The Marlborough House Meeting had just been held and it was decided
to work in conjunction with the newly formed National Association. Branches were subsequently formed in Belfast, Cork, and
Derry. The first Secretary of the Dublin Branch was Dr. J. Knose[?] Dunham, while Dr. Joseph O' Carroll and Professor
McWeeny acted as Treasures.
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These gentlemen under the Committee carried on the work of the Branch until 1902 when the offices of Honorary Secretary and
Honorary Treasurer were amalgamated and transformed to me.
Since then the executive work has been in my hands under the direction of the Committee, the present constitution of which
I give on the enclosed slip.
From the first we had difficulty in overcoming in overcoming the dead weight of indifference which amounted almost to fatalism.
The masses regarded tubercle [sic] as "the will of God," the educated considered prevention in the light of modern
science, as a medical fad. We were regarded as amiable visionaries and it seemed that we were but voices crying in the wilderness.
Still as I look back on these years I am amazed at the amount of work we were able to do on an income of about 30 pounds per
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We worried the Railway Companies about the cleansing of carriages and got them to put up notices regarding spitting in the
cars and stations. We did the same with the Tramways Company and got both to obtain from the Board of Trade sanction to a
by-law making spitting an offence punishable by a fine not exceeding 40 shillings. We got the Board of National Education
to send officially our pamphlets to every national school teacher in Ireland. They also sent out our poster to be displayed
in every school in their system.
Thirty six Technical Instruction Committees under the Department of [?] and Technical Instruction distributed our literature,
while individual officers of the Department e.g. itinerant instructresses [sic], aided materially in this work.
We reached also St. Patricks College for the training of the Roman Catholic Clergy at Mayworth, the Dublin Diocesan
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Synod of the Protestant Episcopal Church, the Dublin Presbytery, the Dublin Methodist Council, the Post Office, many commercial
firms, the Trades Institute, the Workingmen's Clubs, two important Tenement Companies and many other bodies.
In this way the Branch did an immense amount of pioneer work and we had sympathizers in almost every part of Ireland who were
ready to lend a hand when the time came for the now active campaign.
In 1907 I brought before my Committee the question of having a small Tuberculosis Exhibit at the Dublin International Exhibition
which was then in preparation. The Committee could not see their way to undertake the work and incur
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expense which we had no money to meet, accordingly my modest scheme fell through.
Altogether independent of this, Her Excellency The Countess of Aberdeen, who had just started the Womens' Health Association,
learnt from Dr. Jake[?] MacKenzie of Philadelphia of the value of Tuberculosis Exhibitions in the States. She summoned a small
meeting to consider the possibility of organizing such an enterprise in connection with the International Exhibition. Mrs.
Rushton as organizing Secretary of the Womens' Health Association and myself as Honorary Secretary of the Dublin Branch
of the National Association became Honorary Secretaries of the Exhibition Committee.
The subsequent history of the movement is well known to you. Led by a Lady of position and personality
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it took on a vigor it never had before and success is attending its efforts to a degree greater perhaps any of us had expected.
How far this result has been due to pioneer work done by the Dublin Branch I cannot say but I believe that our efforts played
a not inconsiderable part in the matter. Practically all our active members have become engaged in one or other of the enterprises
of the Women's Health Association and the Dublin Branch has passed into a condition of more or less suspended animation
as a working body. It still exists however and its pamphlets are still circulated. There is a small credit balance at bank.
I have no doubt that in a scheme for general reorganization of the National Association, my Committee would join actively,
and if a definite line
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of work were assigned to the Branch I think it could fulfill useful functions without clashing with the Womens' Health
Association whose energies are scattered over so wide a field in its efforts towards social betterment.
Alfred E. Boyd
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The Earl Cadogan, K.G.
The President -- Royal College of Physicians
The President -- Royal College of Surgeons
The President -- Royal Academy of Medicine
Dr. Robert Browne. M.O.H. Rathmines
Sir Charles A. Cameron C.B., M.O.H. Dublin City
Dr. James Craig -- Fellow and Registrar R.C.P.
Dr. P. Culverwell -- F.T.C.D. -- Professor of Education
Dr. J. [ . . . ] Dunham.
Dr. Ninian Falknier -- Medical Supernt[sic] of Statistics