The annual meeting of the St. Michaels Museum will be held on Sunday, April 7th, beginning at 2:00 pm at the St Michaels Library Meeting Room.
There will be a short business meeting per the Museum By-Laws followed by our featured Program: “Slave Hospitals and Slave Doctors”. University of Maryland professor Michael Olmert will discuss how slave hospitals were once prominent on the plantations of the South. Part medicine, part quarantining of infectious slaves, part capitalism, part charity, and part hypocrisy, they were integral to any large agricultural enterprise. Most of them disappeared after the Civil War. It’s not hard to understand why.
Ghostlike images of this building type still persist in pictures from the dawn of photography. They are also visible in plantation ruins and in a few surviving examples and they have a virtual presence in farm journals and diaries. Some of them were quite large and were capable of treating fifty or sixty patients at a time. Several examples from Jamaica were constructed as elegant Georgian buildings in imported British limestone.
Perhaps their most remarkable aspect is that slaves were often encouraged or allowed to practice African folkloric medicine in them. They used plants and other natural ingredients which must have been safer than the standard western cures of the day including bloodletting. This practice was fairly common, to judge from the number of runaway-slave ads published in period newspapers that describe a missing slave as a “doctor.”
After the presentation refreshments will be served. The meeting is open to all interested persons: members and non-members are most welcome!
For more information, visit the Museum website www.stmichaelsmuseum.org or call 410-745-9561.