Two Mississippi Museums | 222 North Street, Jackson, Mississippi, 39201
- Date(s): Wed, Mar 29
- Time: 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
- Website: https://www.facebook.com/events/168261489375208?acontext=%7B%22event_action_history%22%3A[%7B%22surface%22%3A%22page%22%7D]%7D
Join the Mississippi Department of Archives & History on site at the Two Mississippi Museums at noon on Wednesday, March 29, for History Is Lunch when Susan Annah Currie will discuss her memoir The Preventorium.
In the early twentieth century, tuberculosis was one of the main causes of death in the United States. Medical procedures were developed to combat the disease, including the sanatorium movement to treat those already infected and prevent them from spreading the disease to others. A kind of hospital, known as a preventorium, aimed to ward off tuberculosis in children thought to be at risk to contract it.
In May of 1959, Susan Annah Currie arrived at the Mississippi State Preventorium, where she would stay for fifteen months—one of more than three thousand children who lived there during its decades of operation. Currie’s memoir explores the unique and isolating world she experienced. Her exacting routine, dictated by the nurses and doctors who now acted as her parents, erased the distinction between patients and created both a sense of community among the children and a deep sense of loneliness. “I had a sensation of being in an alternate universe,” Currie said. “We were a group of many, but each of us was so alone. We were all strangers to each other, taken from home for reasons we did not understand and with few opportunities to make friends.”
When it closed in 1976—nearly half a century after it opened in 1929—the Mississippi Preventorium was one of the last of these special hospitals for children in operation. Leslie Daniels, author of Cleaning Nabokov’s House, wrote that “The Preventorium presents a forgotten and unique aspect of Mississippi’s and the nation’s history: the institutionalization and caring for children in response to a plague. It is a vivid, compelling account of an extremely challenging and formative experience. Susan Annah Currie’s own erudition and careful self-examination of memory and of history form a narrative that is remarkable in its precision and depth.”
Jackson native Susan Annah Currie earned her BA in English from Belhaven College and attended graduate school for English Literature at the University of Mississippi. She earned her MLS from the University of Buffalo and spent nearly thirty years as an academic librarian at Cornell University and SUNY Binghamton University Libraries. In 2009, Currie was chosen to be the director of the historic Tompkins County Public Library in Ithaca, New York. She was elected to the Tompkins County Legislature in 2023. The Preventorium: A Memoir was published by University Press of Mississippi in 2022. Copies of The Preventorium will be for sale at the program.
History Is Lunch is sponsored by the John and Lucy Shackelford Charitable Fund of the Community Foundation for Mississippi. The weekly lecture series of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History explores different aspects of the state’s past. The hour-long programs are held in the Craig H. Neilsen Auditorium of the Museum of Mississippi History and Mississippi Civil Rights Museum building at 222 North Street in Jackson and livestreamed on YouTube and Facebook.