The year that the Lying-In hospital opened, the only other hospitals for women in Baltimore were the Maryland Woman's Hospital (at 112 E. Saratoga St.) and the Maternite Lying-In-Asylum at 113 E. Lombard St., both associated with the College of Physicians and Surgeons. Part of the reason that medical schools opened hospitals was so that their students could learn by seeing patients, not just sitting in a classroom. Intern years and residencies were not officially part of the medical school curriculum yet. The Lying-In Hospital gave the University of Maryland, where Dr. Miltenberger and Dr. Neale were both graduates of and professors at, a perfect opportunity to help and teach.
"The large proportion of needy poor and unfortunates in every large city calls loudly for aid for simple charity's sake, while the benefits to the community, both present and future, from an institution where practical instruction at the bed-side could be afforded to advanced students, are self-evident." - First Annual Report p. 8
The Lying-In Hospital came at the advent of the new era of hospital. The wards were large, with high ceilings and white-washed walls. The beds were made of painted iron. The simple construction made them easy to clean. On top of the bed frame there were wire-spring mattresses, a relatively new invention that was much cleaner and hygienic than stuffed mattresses. Although they didn't have running water in the wards (Baltimore would not have a city-wide sewer system for another 24 years), polished-surface basin and pitcher were used for cleaning patients.
Another distinct feature was that both white and black people were attended to in the hospital. Johns Hopkins would become famous for serving all races of poor people a few years later, but the Lying-In Hospital was already doing it. However, the report does make a specific point that the two wards are separate from one another.
In their first seven months of operation, the hospital saw 62 women, 57 of whom gave birth. Two women died, most likely a result of postpartum hemorrhage since no cases of septicemia were reported. Four out of fifty-eight children died, a relatively low rate compared to national infant mortality, which continued to be as high as twenty percent in some areas into the 21st century.
I'll end with my favorite quote from the 1st report:
"All malt liquors, wines, spirits, etc., brought to the house shall be placed in charge of the Matron, and used only by order of the attending physicians."
A friend and luthier, Andy FitzGibbon sent me these images of a fiddle made in Baltimore by a man name August Heck. Baltimore once had a vibrant instrument making scene, and I wondered if Heck was part of that.
Heck was born in Germany in 1847 and emigrated to the United States in 1884, during the second large wave of German immigration. The first large flow came in the 1850s, after the 1848 revolution forced many liberals out of the country. In the 1880s, more than one million Germans resettled in the United States, many escaping religious prosecution and military service. Baltimore had a large German population from every wave of immigration, and German instrument makers like William E. Boucher, Jr. and C.H. Eisenbrant had very successful businesses.
We can track Heck a bit by the locations on his labels. Violins #74 and #77 turned up with "Heckville, Indiana," while an advertisement listed him later in Valparaiso, Indiana. By 1891, he was in Baltimore and by 1900, he's listed in the Washington, D.C. census as an instrument maker. While in Baltimore, he even filed a patent.
"A chin rest for violins" is patented by August Heck, of Baltimore, which is the combination with a clamp having lips for embracing the violin, of a clamping twin button whose plant of motion is at a right angle with lips.
The language from the newspaper isn't too clear. Basically, his invention featured a round gear that screwed to tighten a chin rest on the top and bottom of the fiddle. Most chin rests need a little key to tighten two rods that connects the top (the chin rest) with another metal piece on the bottom of the fiddle.
Industrialization meant innovation and everyone wanting to patent their million dollar idea. Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, and Nikola Tesla did have lots of good ideas that they patented, and they were rewarded for it. Thousands of others followed their lead. In the 1880s, the boom really took off when inventors no longer had to create a model of their patent. All they had to do was have an idea, a description of how it worked, and a drawing. By the end of the century, 700 to 800 patents were being filed each week. Since Heck only needed the idea and a drawing, there is no guarantee that any of these chin rests were actually ever made.
Heck moved around quite a bit. He had lived in at least three states after having only been in the United States for 16 years, and seemed to be constantly chasing his fortune. From Washington, D.C., he may have moved to Los Angeles where he's listed in the 1920 census as a 73 year old man, but still an instrument maker.
Come in, the stacks are open.
Away from prying eyes, damaging light, and pilfering hands, the most special collections are kept in closed stacks. You need an appointment to view the objects, letters, and books that open a door to the past.