Happy Birthday Edward Trudeau

US #3432A was the 11th stamp in the Distinguished Americans Series.

Physician Edward Livingston Trudeau was born on October 5, 1848, in New York City.

Born into a family of physicians, Trudeau was named after statesman Edward Livingston.  Livingston helped draft the Louisiana Civil Code of 1825 and was US secretary of State from 1831 to 1833.

US #WX140 – Christmas seals were issued for the National Tuberculosis Association between 1920 and 67.

When Edward was in his late teens, his older brother James contracted tuberculosis.  Edward nursed his brother until his death three months later.  When James died, Trudeau said the death caused him great sorrow and gave him an “unquenchable sympathy for all tuberculosis patients.”

When he was 20, Edward joined the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University, graduating in 1871.  Two years later, he was diagnosed with tuberculosis.  Expecting to die, Trudeau traveled to the Adirondack Mountains, where he had earlier enjoyed hunting and fishing vacations.  At Paul Smith’s Saranac Lake Hotel, Trudeau read about the “cold air” method used by European doctors in the Alps to treat tuberculosis.

When his health improved, Trudeau got a new lease on life.  In 1876, he moved to Saranac Lake and opened a medical practice.  In 1882, he read an article about Prussian doctor Hermann Brehmer and his success treating tuberculosis in cold, clear mountain air. This inspired him to open the Adirondack Cottage Sanatorium.  After a fire destroyed his small laboratory, in 1894 he organized the Saranac Laboratory for the Study of Tuberculosis (now called the Trudeau Institute), the United States’ first laboratory dedicated to the study of tuberculosis. 

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In 1898, Trudeau claimed a success rate of 73%, enticing patients from all walks of life.  Author Robert Louis Stevenson spent the winter of 1887–1888 with Trudeau.  In his secluded sanatorium, patients were offered hope while they enjoyed the companionship of others.  Trudeau’s fame established Saranac Lake as the center for tuberculosis treatment.  In 1904, Trudeau was made the first president of the National Association for the Study and Prevention of Tuberculosis. 

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Trudeau and his wife had four children together, but only one lived a full life.  Their son Francis eventually served as director of the sanatorium after Edward’s retirement.  Outside of his work, Trudeau enjoyed hunting and helped found the St. John’s in the Wilderness Episcopal Church in Paul Smiths, New York.  He died on November 15, 1915.

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  1. My great-great grandmother died of TB in 1903. It was terrifying back in those days. She was 28. Trudeau’s was very important work.

  2. My mother had TB in 1949 and survived. She was treated at St. Anthony’s hospital in Queens. The treatments included collapsing the affected lung and the floroscope which I am sure was terrible to swallow. But she lived to be 81.

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