The History of Medicine in Louisiana Mural

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The Mural - "The History of Medicine in Louisiana"

The 112-foot by 57-inch mural located in Edith Garland Dupré Library's Reference and Research Services area depicts memorable events in Louisiana’s medical history. It represents ​the great strides in medicine and public health occurring in the state from the early 18th century through the middle of the 20th century. The multi-panel mural begins with the habitation of the state by Native Americans and ends with the introduction of nuclear medicine during the advent of the atomic age. The semi-abstract painting has been described as “probably the most unique piece of artwork in Louisiana.”

Wideshot - The History of Medicine in Louisiana Mural

The History of the Mural
 

In the 1940s, Franklin Boggs was commissioned by the Aloe Company, a medical supply company in New Orleans, LA, to capture the evolution of the state's medical history. Boggs made several trips to New Orleans to gather research for the project. He worked on the mural entirely in Wisconsin on the campus of Beloit College. The mural took two years to paint and was completed in 1948. Boggs personally packaged and shipped the panels and oversaw the installation.

After 25 years on display at the medical supply company, the mural was relocated to Tulane Medical Center. Boggs again traveled to New Orleans to oversee the removal and reinstallation. Several years later, the panels were taken down and placed into storage. The mural was on the path to obscurity and probably lost when it re-emerged from a Tulane storage area 15 years later. A group familiar with the artwork rescued the panels looking to preserve its history but struggled to find an organization willing to take the massive piece.

When hearing about the mural and its preservation effort, Dr. and Mrs. Thomas F. Kreamer of Franklin were instrumental in getting the work to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. At the University, the panels were restored by artists Robert Dafford and Wayne Ditch through the generous support of Teche Federal Savings Bank, the Friends of the Edith Garland Dupré Library, and the UL Lafayette Foundation. In 2002, the mural was installed on the first floor of Edith Garland Dupré Library. This time around, Boggs, now in his 80s, was unable to travel to oversee the operation. He did, however, write a letter to the University acknowledging the mural's restoration and preservation and, in a phone interview with library faculty and others, described the mural's new home at an academic library as simply "ideal".


View the mural in its entirety.


The History in the Scenes
 


Prior to 1700 - The History of Medicine in Louisiana Mural 1728 - The History of Medicine in Louisiana Mural 1700s - The History of Medicine in Louisiana Mural 1720-1808 - The History of Medicine in Louisiana Mural 1727-1780 - The History of Medicine in Louisiana Mural 1800s - The History of Medicine in Louisiana Mural 1820 - The History of Medicine in Louisiana Mural 1834 - The History of Medicine in Louisiana Mural 1850-1860 - The History of Medicine in Louisiana Mural 1853 - The History of Medicine in Louisiana Mural 1861-1865 - The History of Medicine in Louisiana Mural 1894 - The History of Medicine in Louisiana Mural 1905 - The History of Medicine in Louisiana Mural 1900-1927 - The History of Medicine in Louisiana Mural 1944 - The History of Medicine in Louisiana Mural 1946 - The History of Medicine in Louisiana Mural 1948 - The History of Medicine in Louisiana Mural
 

Prior to 1700




Prior to 1700 - The History of Medicine in Louisiana Mural

Indian medicine men used sucking tubes, charms and other magical paraphernalia to cure the sick. (Voodoo rites and charms were later brought to Louisiana with the first shipment of slaves from Africa and the West Indies. It was originally a "religion" of ancestor-worship, accompanied by belief in witchcraft, magic and sorcery. Ceremonial rites and magical charms, amulets and talismans were used to ward off evil spirits, which were believed to be the cause of disease and death.)


1718




1718 - The History of Medicine in Louisiana Mural

Jean Baptiste LeMoyne de Bienville founded the city of New Orleans. Swamp areas were drained as a major step to secure healthful living conditions for the colony.


1700s




1700s - The History of Medicine in Louisiana Mural

Corn whiskey was considered good treatment for all ailments by early trappers and frontiersmen coming down the Mississippi River.


1720-1808




1720-1808 - The History of Medicine in Louisiana Mural

A colonial doctor inspected slaves before they went on the auction block. This was not particularly a health measure, but rather an insurance measure to prevent a slave auctioneer from selling an unhealthy slave for a high price.


1727-1780




1727-1780 - The History of Medicine in Louisiana Mural

Ursuline nuns nursed the sick and taught children during the difficult early days of the struggling colony. The first hospitalization for the colony was provided by that sisterhood not long after their arrival in 1727.


1800s




1800s - The History of Medicine in Louisiana Mural

The lack of good roads forced country doctors to make use of the pirogue, or dugout canoe, through the bayous and the horse over land to reach outlying plantations.


1820




1820 - The History of Medicine in Louisiana Mural

Francois Marie Prevost performed the first caesarian operation in the United States.


1834




1834 - The History of Medicine in Louisiana Mural

Dr. Warren Stone taught anatomy in the newly-founded Medical College of Louisiana.


1850-1860




1850-1860 - The History of Medicine in Louisiana Mural

Mississippi River steamboats made New Orleans a medical center. Patients, doctors and medical students were provided with faster transportation than was previously available. By this time, Charity Hospital was the leading medical center in the Deep South.


1853




1853 - The History of Medicine in Louisiana Mural

12,000 people died during the summer of 1853 when New Orleans suffered from its greatest yellow fever epidemic. Doctors and nurses were vulnerable because they did not know that the mosquito was the carrier of the disease.


1861-1865




1861-1865 - The History of Medicine in Louisiana Mural

Many southern doctors followed the Confederate troops. Treatment was crude, inadequate and unsanitary.


1894




1894 - The History of Medicine in Louisiana Mural

The leper colony at Carville, LA was founded in an old plantation home. At this time, the disease was considered as something unclean and brought great grief to the families of afflicted persons.


1905




1905 - The History of Medicine in Louisiana Mural

As a result of The Walter Reed Commission's discovery that yellow fever is carried by mosquitoes, many preventative measures were taken in New Orleans. The fire department sprayed live steam in all outbuildings; laws required sprinkling stagnant pools with kerosene and covering cypress cisterns with gauze in order to destroy breeding grounds for the insects.


1900-1927




1900-1927 - The History of Medicine in Louisiana Mural

Dr. Rudolph Matas became known throughout the world for his vascular surgery in treating aneurysms.


1944




1944 - The History of Medicine in Louisiana Mural

Medical units from New Orleans served in the Italian campaign. Blood plasma, sulfa drugs, penicillin and air evacuations contributed to the reduction of fatalities.


1946




1946 - The History of Medicine in Louisiana Mural

The test of the atomic bomb on Bikini Island in the Pacific focused the attention of the world’s medical men on the effects of radioactivity on plants and animals.


1948




1948 - The History of Medicine in Louisiana Mural

Medicine’s new field of research involved the use of isotope tracers in the bloodstream.


Installation History
 

1948 – Installed in the lobby of the Aloe Company Headquarters in New Orleans, LA

1972 – Relocated to Tulane Medical Center (New Orleans) and featured in the main dining room

2002 – Restored by the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and displayed on the first floor of Dupré Library