Breathe Pennsylvania Records

What’s online?

The Breathe Pennsylvania online photographs contain images from c. 1910 to 2000 that document the organization’s work in promoting respiratory health in Western Pennsylvania. The collection includes images of the organization offering health services and promoting education initiatives.

What’s in the entire collection?

The Breathe Pennsylvania Records include meeting minutes, reports, financial records, by-laws, membership lists, policy documents, correspondence, newspaper clippings, scrapbooks, organizational histories, photographs, slides, and videos.

About Breathe Pennsylvania

Breathe Pennsylvania provides lung health education and direct services to residents across southwestern Pennsylvania. The organization was established as the Pittsburgh Sanitarium in 1905 by Otis H. Childs, whose wife had succumbed to tuberculosis (TB) in 1901. In 1908, the organization changed its name to the Tuberculosis League of Pittsburgh after merging with the Pittsburgh Association for the Prevention of Tuberculosis.

In its early years, the organization focused on providing rest, exercise, and fresh air to its patients.  Reflecting a widespread belief that exposure to cold air was an effective method of treating the illness, the Tuberculosis League established an open-air classroom and sleeping quarters.  In later decades, the organization used x-ray machines to identify patients with the disease.

Beginning in the 1940s, a series of antibiotics were developed that proved successful in the treatment of TB.  With demand for beds dropping, the Tuberculosis League closed its hospital in 1955. The organization continued to fight TB by sending mobile X-ray units into neighborhoods where the disease persisted and testing students in schools. The Tuberculosis League also treated other respiratory ailments, such as asthma, bronchitis, and black lung. The organization’s service area extended beyond the city of Pittsburgh to include all of Allegheny County in addition to regional Pennsylvania counties such as Indiana and Armstrong.

 The organization went through several name changes in recent decades, spending time as the Christmas Seal League of Southwestern Pennsylvania, American Lung Association of Western Pennsylvania, and the American Respiratory Alliance of Western Pennsylvania.  Known as Breathe Pennsylvania since 2014, the organization continues to offer lung health education and direct services to residents across southwestern Pennsylvania.

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