Rabies Treatment in the early 1900s

Amazing what you can learn from one little postcard!  My great-grandfather, James F. Newell, was treated for rabies in 1911.  He had to travel  to Chicago and stay there a month while he got the injections at the Chicago Pasteur Institute, one of many such clinics set up around the world by Louis Pasteur.

Here’s the card, sent to Leo, his 13 year-old son.

Mr. Leo Newell, Virginia, Ill

Chicago Apr 29, 1911
Well Leo it is raining today & yesterday. I am doing very well.
When I get home I will be a good sieve. I will do to sift most anything.
They punch two holes with a needle every day in my stomach.
Hope you are still improving. There is a man here 70 years old taking
JF Newell

The clinic was located at 812 Dearborn Ave (now 812 North Dearborn Street) in Chicago — looks just about the same today!  Thanks to Dr. Bert Hansen of Baruch College, CUNY for the b&w postcard and for deciphering the word “treatment”!

And here’s a fascinating letter from the Chicago Pasteur Institute summarizing its success to date (as of 1908).  Thanks to Caitlin Hawke of the Pasteur Foundation for sharing this.  It is signed by the director, Antonio Lagorio.

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