Blog Post 3
On the third and final trip to the national archives I did manage to find some interesting documents that could potentially help our final project. One thing that I have noticed throughout my research is that medical inspectors are far from perfect when it comes to their assessment of disease. Last time my group stumbled upon a 1912 discrepancy between the findings of a Dr. Hume, who found trachoma in multiple patients in Eagle Pass, and chief medical examiner Dr. Tappan, who re-examined these same immigrants and found them clean. I mention this because this time I once again found an example of discrepancy between two diagnoses—once again in 1912. In this instance it was the opposite problem. A Dr. Wright cleared a patient who had third-stage syphilis, a disease with very obvious physical symptoms. The main difference between the two cases is their final outcome: according to additional research conducted on Dr. Hume, he held his position until his death despite his feud with a superior-ranking doctor that went all the way to the Surgeon General. The final record for Dr. Wright, on the other hand, is him being unceremoniously fired. This would suggest that allowing immigrants with diseases into the country was dealt with much more strictly than denying access to healthy immigrants. Additional research has illuminated more facts about Dr. Wright: his full name is Frederick Thompson Wright, and after he was dismissed from the immigration services he traveled abroad, writing a (terrible) memoir about his travels in the exotic lands to the East (like, seriously, it’s just poorly-written. It’s racist, and it’s also a bad book). He also continued to practice medicine until 1926—interestingly, he was replaced in both his positions by the same doctor, a doctor Edward Adamson, in what could be a case of professional cronyism.
Commissioner-General, Washington, DC, to Surgeon General, Washington, DC, July 23, 1912, File 51836/14, Subject Correspondence, 1906-1932, Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, RG 85 (National Archives, Washington, DC).
Rupert Blue, Surgeon General, to Commissioner-General of Immigration, Washington, DC, March 16, 1912, File 53431/25, Subject Correspondence, 1906-1932, Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, RG 85 (National Archives, Washington, DC).