The infirmary grows

Space inhabited by people changes with time and human influence. Institutions are no different. The concept of the infirmary started off as a work-house historically. People who required assistance had to work for that assistance. However, overtime it was thought to be more economical for an infirmary to be an agricultural farm in order to grow and raise some of the food supplies the infirmary would need. 14,15,17,19,20,21,25 This would cut cost and the residents could be used as labor on the farm it was thought. Residents could then contribute to the infirmary and be partially responsible for their own keep. However, there is evidence to contradict this as being what actually occurred. The annual reports for infirmaries had a category “Estimated total value of pauper labor under Infirmary Supervision.” The answer for the Wood County Infirmary often read similar to this: “Really worth nothing as we keep no one able to make a living.”9 Despite not having residents able bodied enough to work in the fields, the Wood County Infirmary still operated as a farm. From the video below, you can see that the infirmary was a growing farm as well. The number of agricultural buildings increased and the building complex expanded as well. The infirmary was a growing and changing institution. (see Wood County Infirmary Population chart).

Video of the changes to the infirmary complex over time (optimized for Safari) 1,2,3,9,11 Building Evolution for non-Safari

The video starts with the 1925 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map and then works its way back in time. The Sanborn maps available for the Wood County Infirmary stop in 1908 so from there buildings disappear as the dates get farther back in time. While the ability to account for buildings not being built yet exists, as of now it is not possible to illustrate changes in the existing structures without additional maps for this project. 1,2,3,9,11

After viewing the changes to the infirmary and learning about its residents, it is apparent that the Wood County Infirmary was an institution with diverse residents that had a variety of reasons for needing help and that came from a variety of back grounds and geographic locations. The infirmary itself was a growing and changing institution that was impacted by larger events occurring in the United States. The infirmary was a vital part of the Wood County infrastructure and gave county residents help when they had no one else to ask.