Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Dr. Jackson's Office - Part II

By: Erin Crissman, Curator
Working in a history museum forces me to think differently about my own life, especially when I’m thinking about the past. A lot of times it is difficult to put away my own experience when I’m trying to discover how people in the past may have lived. In the 1950s, when the staff at The Farmers’ Museum was restoring Dr. Jackson’s office and getting it ready for the public, they likely were thinking about their own experiences in visiting the doctor. The original interior of Dr. Jackson’s office, as the staff conceived it in the 1950s, looked like a 1950s doctor’s office, but with older furniture. It had a “waiting room” in the front (left) and an “exam room” in the back. (right)
Now, with more research resources available to us than were around in the 1950s, we have a different understanding of how Dr. Jackson used his office. First, he only had one room to work with (we discovered that the back room wasn’t added until 20 years after he died) and that he visited most of his patients in their homes, treating very few people in his office. Through a survey of probate inventories (a list of a person’s possessions upon their death) we discovered that most doctors only had a table, a chair, about 5 books, and very basic medical equipment in their offices. When Dr. Jackson’s office is restored, we hope to better reflect Dr. Jackson’s experience as a rural physician.

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