1850/1856: Woman before and after tuberculosis

Charlotte Bronson c.1850 Charlotte Bronson in the last months of her life, 1856

‘Charlotte Bronson was born in Connecticut on 14 September, 1832. 

‘The image above, taken in about 1850, shows Charlotte in perfect health at approximately the age of 18. A short time later, that would drastically change and by Halloween 1856, Charlotte would be dead.

‘The poor-quality ambrotype, below, shows Charlotte a mere six years later, in the final months of her life. She is obviously suffering from a wasting disease, most probably Tuberculosis, a plague that killed hundreds of thousands annually.

‘Charlotte is buried in Jordanville Cemetery with her father, who died a year later.’

- Lisby

7 Responses

  1. zelle

    Very sad, indeed. The first image shows this sensitive and perhaps somewhat sad face. But so beautiful. thanks for this post

  2. Carl

    I had tb as a child, along with my father and four brothers and sisters. We each spent from six months to two years in a tb sanatorium near Detroit around 1965. Thanks to the new drugs available we all survived this horrible affliction. The sanatorium (Maybury) is now gone and lost to history. Most of my and following generations have not a whisper of this part of our collective history.

  3. Roger

    We owe a great debt to Calmette and Guérin for stopping this great evil. Alas; it is not gone. Since the 1990s it has been making a resurgence.

  4. Cranios

    My grandfather went in with two of his friends to be drafted into World War One. All three were found to have TB, and sent home to die. My grandfather stayed out of the war and beat TB, lived to be almost 80. His two friends died of TB within a year. We have no idea how blessed we are these days.

  5. David

    If you just looked at the 2 photos, without knowing the back story, you would think that the lady in the 2nd photo was the mother (or grandmother) of the lady in the 1st image. TB is an appalling disease. In the 6 years between the photos, this poor lady aged at least 30-40 years.

    The really scary thing is that, not only is TB still around killing people, but the new drug-resistant strains of it may be a bigger and more dangerous threat then ever.

  6. cindy

    Worse is the ignorance in 3rd world countries, like South Africa, where I live, where it is believed that if you have TB you have Aids (and visa versa), so you are going to die anyways so why take your medicine? People still go about spitting in the streets, not washing their hands, not holding their hands infront of their faces when coughing, etc etc… Simple, small common sense little things taught to me as a child! There should be more public awareness regarding the spread of disease etc etc.

    Just the other day the I had a cold, the most common of diseases, and the lady who comes in to clean every Saturday said it was because I was walking barefoot. I ask you?… When will people stop believing this nonsense? GERMS cause disease, not fresh air, not too much sunlight, not too much laughter, not too much moonlight, God, the devil or whatever else your great great grandmother told you.

    Knowledge is power.


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