Charity Hospital Reports

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The history of Charity Hospital in New Orleans, Louisiana begins on May 10, 1736. On that date, the first Charity Hospital, funded by the estate of shipbuilder Jean Louis, opened in a house on Chartres and Bienville Streets in the historic French Quarter to serve the city's poor and indigent population. Since that time, Charity Hospital has moved from location to location around the city due to fire, flood, and politics. Charity Hospital's last location, the 1939 Art-Deco style complex located on Tulane Avenue in New Orleans, Louisiana, has remained unused since Hurricane Katrina in August of 2005. The responsibility of Charity Hospital was assumed by the State of Louisiana on March 17, 1813, almost one year after Louisiana was granted statehood in 1812.

Charity Hospital produced regular reports for the state government of Louisiana titled Report(s) of the Board of Administrators of the Charity Hospital to the General Assembly of Louisiana, also known as the Charity Hospital Reports. Published from 1842 to 1974, these reports are vital to Louisiana's social and medical history and include information not widely available from the nineteenth century. The Charity Hospital Reports include public health information on morbidity and mortality (including information on the yellow fever epidemics in New Orleans), venereal disease issues, disease incidence, vital statistics, and hospital administration. The reports also have information on the governance and financing of the hospital. Medical milestones and memorials are sometimes included. The reported information varies from year to year, but generally there is a report to the legislature with a statistical report of the diseases treated in the hospital. Names of administrators, physicians, surgeons, residents, interns, and donors to the hospital are included in most reports. Most of the Charity Hospital Reports were published in English, but some early reports were also published in French. The 1853 and 1856 Reports are the only years scanned in the French version.

The Charity Hospital Reports Collection is a valuable historic tool for researchers with a wide range of interests from medical history to the importance of Charity Hospital as both a social and cultural institution in the New Orleans area. All of the reports were published as documents of the State of Louisiana and therefore are in the public domain. The John P. Isché Library at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in New Orleans supplemented the Rudolph Matas Library content by providing replacement copies for scanning as needed to replace damaged or missing content. The documents are available as .pdf documents with the text fully searchable. Every attempt has been made to make these documents accessible according to guidelines and standards for Section 508.

The Charity Hospital Reports have been digitized by the Rudolph Matas Library of the Health Sciences of Tulane University under a NLM grant awarded August 2010-June 2011 for a project titled: Early Medical Journalism of Louisiana, A pilot project for the preservation and sharing of Nineteenth Century Medical Publications of Louisiana [National Library of Medicine (NLM) Prime Contract No. N01-LM-6-3505; HHSN276200663505C]. See also the Matas Library website: Tulane and Charity Hospital: For more information on the history of Charity Hospital: Matas, Rudolph, and John Duffy. The Rudolph Matas History of Medicine in Louisiana. Baton Rouge: Published for the Rudolph Matas Trust Fund by Louisiana State University Press, 1958. Salvaggio, John E. New Orleans' Charity Hospital: A Story of Physicians, Politics, and Poverty. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1992.
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