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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Sanitarium: 1928

Sanitarium: 1928

1928. "Washington Sanitarium, Takoma Park. Operating room." View full size. National Photo Company Collection glass negative. Can you say "lobotomy"?

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

1918 flu epidemic

There is an article in Life & Health Magazine circa 1934 that talks about the hydrotherapy treatments given at Washington San & Battle Creek San that kept the patients in their facilities alive during this terrible flu. They didn't lose anyone! I would love to find a copy of this article. My husband had seen it many years ago, but the lady who had the magazine died. Would appreciate any help!

Thank you SO much!


Wham was a vegetarian ham substitute -- kind of a culinary step down from Spam, if you can imagine. It was the veggie burger of its time, I suppose. Also for sale in the San vending machines were "egg" salad sandwiches made from some hideous 1960s egg substitute, which was vile.


It's the Ham What Am! (According to Mr. Blandings' agency, anyway.)

[I think it was the maid who said that. Or something along those lines. ("If you ain't eatin' Wham, you ain't eatin' ham!") The movie was good, but only about a tenth as good as the book. Which, instead of Wham, had Knapp Laxative and its unprintable three-word rhyming slogan. - Dave]

Candy Stripin' at the San

I was a Candy Striper there in the late 1960s. It was like a being in a time warp -- most of it looked just like this picture. I believe it was originally built for TB patients, but they did also have special mental health services there. A very troubled friend of mine lived there as a patient for a while, also in the late '60s. Off and on, for years, she would receive not-particularly-helpful electroshock therapy. Fun fact: Seventh Day Adventists are vegetarian. They had "Wham and Cheese" sandwiches in the vending machines.

[So what's "wham"? - Dave]

Flat panel

It looks just like the monitors now used in surgery. I wondered if it was to hold an x-ray, but mirror seems more likely. The radiators covered to keep down dust, the basin stands aren't significantly changed. More room than in a number of rooms I've gotten bruised in. Nice to have real windows. (I'm a surgical nurse.)

Would you like to see a movie?

Apparently, flat screens were used in 1928's operating rooms.

[Indeed. It's a flat-panel, thin-film, high-resolution color display. Back then they called it a mirror. - Dave]


Is there something wrong with the print or is there an odd white spray pattern around the operating table on the floor and wall?

[Mold on the emulsion. There is no print. - Dave]

Washington Sanitarium

The Washington Sanitarium and Hospital was founded by the Seventh Day Adventists in 1907 and apparently was a spa (like the Kellogg Sanitarium) and general hospital, not an insane asylum. Walter Freeman introduced the prefrontal lobotomy in the U.S. in 1936, so ice picks (excuse me, leucotomes) will not be among the instruments in this 1928 image.


I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy.

--attributed to various people including Dorothy Parker, W.C. Fields, Tom Waits and Randy Hanzlick

"I'd rather have a bottle in

"I'd rather have a bottle in front o' me, than a frontal lobotomy."

Someone had to say it.

* * * * * * * * * *

Gruesomeness aside...nice, open room.

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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