In its long 160-year history,
Touro Infirmary has survived yellow fever epidemics, the Civil War, Jim Crow laws and integration, two World Wars and constant challenges to healthcare providers. The Touro Infirmary Archives' 576 linear feet of processed collections provides a documentary and pictorial history of this struggle.
Established in 1990, the Touro Infirmary Archives houses founding records dating from the hospital's incorporation after Touro's death in 1854 and the acceptance of the hospital by directors named in his will.
"I give and bequeath to found the "Hebrew Hospital of New Orleans" the said contemplated Hospital to be organized according to law, as a charitable Institution for the relief of the Indigent sick, by my Executors and such other persons as they may associate with them conformably with the law of Louisiana."
The struggles to keep the fledgling hospital open through reconstruction, bank crashes, panics and wars is chronicled in minutes and annual reports of the Board of Directors/ Managers/ Trustees which continue in an almost unbroken series to the present.
Two admission books record every patient who entered the hospital during the years 1855-1860 and 1869-1891. Of particular interest to researchers, these books record the patient's name, place of birth, age, sex, diagnosis and treatment, and financial charges.
Each patient's entry also includes the last place he or she visited before coming to New Orleans, which has been of great interest in tracing the spread of disease such as cholera and yellow fever. For those researching African-American heritage and history, the many entries for slaves, which also contain the name of the financially responsible party (owner or slave trader), have been of great interest. Although these two books contain patient names, in general the archives does not collect patient records or personnel records.
The archives also contains materials relating to Touro's role in medical history, which includes, among others, early leadership in the field of hemodialysis, insulin research, and nuclear medicine and rehabilitation. The records of the Touro Infirmary School of Nursing (1896-1987) and the Research Institute (1957-1970) document departments which no longer exist. The papers of the ongoing Touro Auxiliary, which began in 1876 as the Ladies Aid and Sewing Society, document volunteer service to the hospital. A large collection of photographs from the 19th-century to the present illustrates the hospital's architectural history, doctors and nurses, as well as trustees and patients. The Archives also houses a collection of medical instruments and artifacts used at Touro, as well as uniforms from the nursing school.
Because Touro Infirmary has been, since its founding, part of a group which formed what would today be called an "umbrella agency" to provide services to the entire Jewish community, the Archives has also collected information and documentation on the Hebrew Benevolent Society (founded 1844, joined with Touro in 1874), The Jewish Widows and Orphans Home (founded 1855) and the Julius Weis Home for the Aged (founded 1898). These aid organizations provide evidence of Touro Infirmary's tradition of care for the elderly, and their leadership guided the Touro Board of Directors in the second half of the 19th century. Recently, Touro has come full circle, as it has acquired the Woldenberg Village a full-service Retirement Community. Documentation of this addition forms the Archives' newest series of records.
The Touro Infirmary Archives is open for research Tuesday - Thursday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Contact Archivist Paula Fortier at 504-897-8090, email@example.com
, or write Touro Infirmary Archives, 1401 Foucher St. New Orleans, LA 70115.
For transcripts and certification of members of the classes of the Touro Infirmary School of Nursing contact Touro Human Resources at 504-897-8340. Touro Archives has only the history of the school.