A Fort Wayne Nurse, a Public Health Crisis, and World War I Irene Byron and the Anti-Tuberculosis Crusade

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Peggy Seigel


In the early twentieth century, 40,000 Hoosiers suffered from tuberculosis; 4,000 died every year. Author Peggy Seigel looks at the public health campaign against the disease in Fort Wayne, Indiana, focusing on the work of public health nurse Irene Byron. From 1913 to 1917, Byron served as a nurse for the Fort Wayne Anti-Tuberculosis Society, visiting patients and their families; working at the city’s clinic, tent hospital, and open-air school for anemic children; and tirelessly advocating for more funding to build a sanatorium and hire more public health nurses. In 1917, Byron left Fort Wayne to serve in World War I with the American Red Cross but died during training at Fort MacArthur, Texas. In 1919, Allen County’s new tuberculosis hospital, north of Fort Wayne, was named in honor of Irene Byron.


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Seigel , P. (2021). A Fort Wayne Nurse, a Public Health Crisis, and World War I: Irene Byron and the Anti-Tuberculosis Crusade. Indiana Magazine of History, 117(1), 13–47. Retrieved from https://scholarworks.iu.edu/journals/index.php/imh/article/view/34657