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Pioneering Medicine: Milestones from Seattle's First Century 1850-1950

From the Denny Party landing, in 1851, through the founding of the University of Washington's Medical School in 1946, Seattle's physicians played defining roles in medicine, politics and society. This exhibit highlights Seattle's early physicians and how they shaped Seattle, and the region.

Wayside Hospital Operating RoomDoc Maynard HomeWashington State Medical Association, 1910Emergency Hospital, Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition, Seattle, 1909Social and Moral HygieneThree nuns at Providence HospitalQui Si Sana Sanatorium and Biological Institution, dock and cabins as seen from Lake Crescent, 1913King County hospital staff, Georgetown
Pre-1700 For thousands of years prior to the first European exploration, the Puget Sound region was inhabited by the Lushootseed-speaking Coast Salish people.
ca. 1775 Spanish explorers traveled the Pacific coastline trading with Native Americans and sailing northward claiming territory at points in Washington and British Columbia.
1792-94 George Vancouver sent in 1792 to implement a treaty. Spain withdraws from the Northwest coast in 1794.
1824 Physician John McLoughlin was appointed superintendent of the Hudson’s Bay Company, at Ft. Vancouver.
1834 Marcus Whitman, a missionary and physician, established a mission near Walla Walla. Whitman’s inability to cure Native Americans during a measles outbreak lead to the ‘Whitman Mission massacre’, in 1847.
1851 Denny Cabin Denny Party lands at Alki Point on November 13. The Denny party are credited as Seattle’s founders.

1851 population 300
1853 Marriage Certificate for
David Denny and Louisa Boren
David "Doc" Maynard arrived in Seattle, in 1852. His original land claim included what is now Pioneer Square. In 1853, he performed the first wedding, in Seattle, between David Denny and Louisa Boren at the home of A. A. Denny.
1853 David S. Maynard Doc Maynard was instrumental in the creation of Washington Territory (the northern part of Oregon territory). Doc Maynard proposes Seattle’s name in honor of his friend, Chief Seattle.
1861 Territorial University, ca. 1880 Territorial University of Washington opens on November 4. Original articles of incorporation call for the creation of a Medical department.
1863 David and Catherine Maynard open Seattle Hospital and Lying-in Department.
Insane Asylum of Washington Territory established at Fort Steilacoom.
1872 Small Pox Small Pox! First public health ordinance, Seattle City Ordinance 30, imposes reporting and quarantine requirements. First immunizations performed in Seattle.
1872 Dr. T. T. Minor establishes the Puget Sound Telegraph Company, while living in Port Townsend.
1873 Washington State Medical Association organized, Dr. A. H. Steel, President. Seattle physician, Dr. Gideon Weed, is a founding member. Doc Maynard dies.
1874 Seattle Hospital (1876) Seattle Hospital (1876) Dr. Gideon Weed opens private hospital, for the poor and sick, near Main and Commercial (1st Ave S) streets.
1876-77 Dr. Gideon Weed Dr. Gideon Weed Dr. Gideon Weed elected to two terms as mayor of Seattle.
1878 Old Providence Hospital Old Providence Hospital Sisters of Providence open their first Seattle hospital at 5th and Madison.
1880-81 Dr. Thomas Taylor Minor Dr. Thomas Taylor Minor Dr. T. T. Minor serves two terms as mayor of Port Townsend.

1880 population 3,533
1884 Doctors T. T. Minor and Gideon Weed (a university regent), attempt to start a medical school with other local physicians. Plan abandoned due to lack of qualified students.
1885 SL&E depot fire photo SL & E RR depot shown during the Great Fire, June, 1889 Seattle, Lakeshore & Eastern Railroad founded. Dr. T. T. Minor, Vice President.
1886-87 Dr. James B. Eagleson Dr. James B. Eagleson Dr. James B. Eagleson receives orders to report to the Marine Hospital, in Port Townsend. The following year, he receives orders to open a Marine Hospital Service, in Seattle.
1888 King County Medical Society organized. Dr. Gideon Weed is elected first president. KCMS physicians have played key roles in establishing the region’s public health policies, hospitals, medical publications and medical libraries, for over 125 years.
1889 Doctors providing medical services in tent after the fire of June 6, 1889 Doctors providing medical services
in tent after the fire
of June 6, 1889
Great Seattle Fire, June 6. Entire central business district destroyed. Drs. Smith and Eagleson open practice in a tent.
1889 On November 11, Washington Territory achieved statehood. Dr. T. T. Minor served as a member of the constitutional convention.
1889 Dr. Thomas T. Minor drowns in early December, along with two other prominent businessmen, while on a canoe trip near Whidbey Island. Dr. Minor was remembered as a physician, businessman, civic leader. He played a siginificant role in Washington's growth.
1890-91 Typhoid fever epidemic: "There were so many cases of typhoid fever that the health officer could not visit and investigate them all. He concluded they were due to bad sewerage and filth." Greatest death rate from typhoid fever was from the Lake Union District, in October. Many infants died.
1891-92 Epidemic of La Grippe late 1891 to early 1892. Smallpox quarantine 'suspect house' set up to screen all incoming visitors... trains, boats, ferries.
1895-96 Scarlet fever epidemic, schools closed. Police enforce quarantine in front of infected homes. All school books were ordered destroyed to prevent spread of disease. This is followed by an outbreak of Diphtheria in the schools, in 1896.
1897 Yukon Food Supplies (1898) Yukon Food Supplies (1898) Klondike Gold Rush puts Seattle on the map as would-be prospectors stampede to Alaska
1898 Denny school closed for a month due to outbreak of diphtheria. To prevent the spread of tuberculosis, the King County Medical Society requested that an ordinance be passed against expectorating in public (not passed) and making TB reportable.
ca. 1899 Dr. Peterkin arrives in Seattle, ultimately establishing his practice as a urologist.
ca. 1899 Wayside Mission Hospital Wayside Mission Hospital Dr. Alexander De Soto opens the Wayside Mission Hospital on the abandoned steamship, Idaho. Moored along the waterfront, near the foot of Main St., the hospital treated the poor with little city funding.
1901-02 Smallpox epidemic. Day and night guards placed in front of all homes infected with contagious diseases.

1900 population 80,671
1907 Sudden appearance of bubonic plague, in October. Leads to rat ordinance and rat trapping to track disease.
Seattle's record of fighting tuberculosis found to be the worst in the country.
1909 Ad for Alaska-Yukon-Pacific-Expo Ad for Alaska-Yukon-Pacific-Exposition Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition brings the world to Seattle. A typhoid outbreak is kept out of the news.
1910 Flexner Report praises UW for refraining from opening a medical school.
Seattle boasts of lowest death rate of all large cities in the world: 10.1 per 100,000
ca. 1910 Dr. Peterkin receives samples of Salvarsan 606, the first cure for syphilis, from the German researcher, Dr. Paul Ehrlich and begins clinical trials.
1910 Cobb Building Cobb Building The Cobb building, a unique medical arts building, opens on the former site of the Territorial University. Called the Metropolitan Tract, the UW hired a developer who planned a city-within-a-city, but the concept was never fully realized.
1911 Since Seattle’s founding, contaminated drinking water persisted as a public health issue. Warnings ‘to boil water before use’ continued to be issued.
1911-12 Firland cottages Firland cottages Another public health crisis, Tuberculosis, was difficult to control. In 1911, the Henry Sanatorium, opened several miles north of Seattle, to treat TB patients. It was renamed Firland Sanatorium, in 1912 and remained open until the late 1970s.
ca. 1912 Louis Dechmann Louis Dechmann Louis Dechmann, a self-proclaimed physician and biologist, opens Qui Si Sana, a naturopathic health spa, on Lake Crescent, in the Olympic Peninsula.
1914 Marked increase in rabies. Tuberculosis is widespread. Dr. Robert M Stith, in charge of TB, reports the willful disregard of public safety by many people with tuberculosis and who refuse treatment. Hoboes and tramps, living along railroad tracks by the river, determined to be a menace to the city water supply.
1914 Smith Tower Smith Tower Smith Tower completed. Tallest building west of the Mississippi until 1931
1916 Suzzallo establishes pre-medical program including anatomy, biochemistry, bacteriology, and pathology.
1917 Dr. Eagleson establishes Base Hospital 50, in Seattle. The Hospital was ordered to WWI theatre of operations after the U.S. entered the war. Dr Eagleson’s son, James M., serves as a soldier.
1917-18 To prevent the spread of venereal disease, especially among the military, laws were passed to forcibly detain anyone found to have a venereal disease, in ‘detention hospitals,’ until cured.
1918 Employees during Spanish Influenza Employees during Spanish Influenza Spanish Influenza Pandemic reaches Seattle on October 3. 1600 die over the next 6 months.
1919 Two large sewer projects completed at Alki and Rainier Beach.
ca. 1920 Class of 1922 Class of 1922 Several alternative medicine schools were founded, in Seattle, in the nineteen teens and twenties.

1920 population 315,312
1921 Three-year vaccination program stops epidemics. Population of 5000 persons living in houseboats on Lake Union constituted a sanitary hazard. (A proposal to remove them was not carried out.)
1922 Eagleson Hall groundbreaking Eagleson Hall groundbreaking The University YMCA, Eagleson Hall, was dedicated in memory of James M. Eagleson, who died from influenza shortly after returning from WWI theatre of operations. Many prominent regional figures attended the groundbreaking.
1923 UW’s Department of Nursing begins offering a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.
1924 Well Baby clinic started in the Bon Marche - January 1.
1924 Three experimental sewage disposal plants built at the outfall of sewers into Lake Washington. Sampling of water from Lake Washington at many points shows it to be grossly polluted.
1925 Bon Marche Well Baby clinic discontinued due to lack of funds.
1926 Epidemic of smallpox early in the year, stopped by vaccination campaign - over 200,000 vaccinated.Chlorine boats put into operation at bathing beaches on Lake Washington.
1927 State Supreme Court upholds City forcible quarantine detention regulations.
1930s Great Depression. Projects such as Grand Coulee Dam and Bonneville Dam help Washington recover.
ca. 1930 Dr. Peterkin exhibits his ‘Mechanics in the Development of the Cystoscope’ at the King County Hospital. This exhibit is considered to be a unique snapshot of urological history by the American Urological Society, Didusch Museum.
1930 Legal proceedings started to oust logging on Cedar River watershed to protect City water quantity and quality.
1931 Hooverville Homeless shantytown "Hooverville" Seattle’s Hooverville established. One of the largest and longest-lasting in the nation.
1935 Unidentified woman in military uniform Unidentified woman in military uniform Dr. Mabel Seagrave, prominent Seattle physician, dies. Dr. Seagrave graduated Wellesley College (1905) and Johns Hopkins University (1911). She worked at King County Hospital and Seattle General Hospital where she served on the Board of Trustees. During WWI, Dr. Seagrave went to France with the Overseas Hospital Service. She received the French Medal of Honor for her service.
1936-38 Rabies continues to be a problem in animals.
1937 Senator Warren G. Magnuson (D-WA) introduces a bill to establish the National Cancer Institute, which led to the founding of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in 1975. The UW’s Health Sciences Center bears his name in honor of his contributions to the region.
1937 Dr. Guy Shearman Peterkin makes national headlines when he murders his son, then shoots himself, in his office, in the Cobb Building. Peterkin, despondent over his son having suffered a schizophrenic episode, believed this to be the only solution.
1938 Alice Maude Smith, 1900 Alice Maude Smith, 1900 Dr. Alice Maude Smith dies. Dr. Smith was an active member in the American Medical Association, Washington State Medical Societies and in the Woman's Legislative League of Washington. She was also an amateur play write and member of the League of Women Writers.
1939-42 U.S. Public Health Service assists Seattle to reorganize venereal disease control division.
1943 Aggressive anti-prostitution campaign begins due to increasing rates of venereal disease among local Army and Navy personnel. Federally funded detention and treatment centers opened for venereally infected women including educational and rehabilitation program deemed best in the country, in 1944.
1943 Firland Tuberculosis Sanatorium expanded. Outbreak of poliomyelitis in late summer.
1945 Governor Walgren and others at the signing of the Medical Dental School Bill, March 1, 1945 Governor Wallgren signing bill Governor Wallgren signs Medical-Dental Bill authorizing Schools of Medicine and Dentistry on March 1.
1946 First entering class (Class of 1950) First entering class (Class of 1950) First Medical School class.
1948 Dr. John Francis McKie dies. Dr. McKie’s medical bag and its contents, illuminate the practice of the typical rural doctor. Dr. McKie, practiced in Wessington and in Sturgis, South Dakota, ca 1910, until his death, in 1948.
1950 First graduating class First graduating class The School of Medicine graduates first class of 44 physicians.

Population 467,591
1985 Charles W. Bodemer Charles W. Bodemer Charles W. Bodemer, PhD., joined the faculty of the University of Washington in 1956. Bodemer's greatest contribution to the University of Washington came from his work with the UW School of Medicine's Department of Biomedical History, which he founded in 1967.

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