UNM Professor Emeritus of History Jake Spidle presents, "New Mexico: Health & Wellness Mecca," for the 2012 Centennial Speaker & Living History Series, on Wednesday, Oct. 10 at 7 p.m. at the KiMo Theatre, 423 Central NW. A meet and greet with Spidle follows from 8:30 - 9 p.m. Both events are free and open to the public.
Writers claim that at the end of the 19th and early 20th centuries, three critical industries helped create modern New Mexico: ranching, mining and railroading. However, in this presentation, Spidle discusses the equal importance of a fourth factor in the making of modern New Mexico – the public health industry. New Mexico's widespread reputation as a "salubrious El Dorado," a health haven especially suited for lung disease victims, brought a veritable flood of health seekers, and "tuberculars" in particular, to the Territory and then the new State of New Mexico. Such figures as writer DH Lawrence and health advocate Carrie Tingley were among those who moved to New Mexico for respiratory health reasons. Appropriately, one of the most prominent newspapers in New Mexico at the turn of the 20th century was The Herald of the Well-Country.
The arrival of the "lungers," as they called themselves, changed New Mexico in fundamental ways. They boosted the population of the "Sunshine State" by perhaps a full third; they directly affected the region's medical culture, including its health care professionals and institutions. They enriched the state's cultural and intellectual capital in decisive fashion. The delicate among us might think it unseemly to acknowledge, but the ailments and persistent coughs of the stricken were critical elements in the birth of modern New Mexico.
In the program, Spidle presents a vivid and detailed portrait of a little known, yet significant, part of New Mexico history.
Spidle is an Emeritus Professor at the University of New Mexico where he teaches and researches the history of modern medicine broadly and specifically in the Southwest. His major publications include Doctors of Medicine in New Mexico: A History of Health and Medical Practice, 1876-1976 and The Lovelace Medical Center: Pioneer in American Health Care.