Tuberculosis: Necessitated the Opening of Sanatoriums

A public service poster on how to tuberculosis spreads

Tuberculosis: Necessitated the Opening of Sanatoriums

Tuberculosis, also known as consumption, was a common disease in the 19th century. So common, in fact, that sanatoriums were opened for treatment of the disease. These institutions exposed patients to fresh air and provided proper nutrition; however, for many patients it was where they died.

Public campaigns were organized to stop spitting and encouraged people to seek medical attention.


Tuberculosis is caused by a bacteria and is spread like the common cold through coughs and sneezes. It most commonly affects the lungs.

Symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Blood tinged phlegm
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue

Most people who have tuberculosis are asymptomatic.

Famous Deaths

Patients on a porch at a tuberculosis sanatorium
Patients on a porch at a TB sanatorium

Tuberculosis claimed the lives of many in the Victorian and Edwardian eras with a death rate of up to 50 percent for those showing symptoms.

Some notable people who died of the disease before 1920 include:

  • Jane Austen
  • Emily Bronte
  • Anne Bronte
  • Henry David Thoreau
  • John Keats
  • Anton Chekhov
  • Alexander Pope
  • Stephen Crane
  • Gavrilo Princip
  • Frederic Chopin
  • President Andrew Jackson
  • President James Monroe
  • Louis Braille
  • First Lady Caroline Harrison
  • First Lady Hannah van Buren
  • King Henry VII
  • King Edward VI
  • Dred Scott
  • Doc Holliday
  • Pocahontas

Today, tuberculosis kills millions globally each year, most in developing nations without access to antibiotics.


Updated: 26 October 2020
Melina Druga
Most kids have an active imagination. My imagination has stayed strong into adulthood, and I’ve funneled that creativity into a successful writing career. I write history, both fiction and nonfiction, because although your school history classes may have been boring, the past is not. My goal is to bring the past to life in all its myriad of colors.
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