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Date of Award

Spring 2011

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Department of History


This thesis explores the persistent use of outdoor air as a treatment for tuberculosis, particularly during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The focus of my paper differs from other scholarly works on tuberculosis in that it assumes the connections between climatology and the sanatoria/home cure movements are strong enough to warrant combining them under the term “outdoor air treatment,” rather than categorizing them as two distinct methods . Based on this premise, my paper explores the ways in which outdoor air treatment outlasted many of the changes to society which occurred during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Three changes that were specific to tuberculosis, and perhaps should have derailed the use of outdoor air therapy, are explored in separate chapters: the major shift in the public’s popular perceptions of the disease, the advent of new technology, and debates and changes within the medical field. This thesis argues that in each case outdoor air treatment continued to be utilized, but was adapted to fit changing circumstances. In these three cases, in fact, outdoor air therapy accelerated and broadened to allow more people to participate. Outdoor air treatments ceased to be prescribed only after the advent of modern day drugs in the 1950s, but some aspects of the treatment continue to be utilized or studied in modern times, indicating a truly remarkable ability of the method to be adapted to a variety of ideologies.

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