URI library hosting exhibit on Jamestown sanitarium that used electricity to treat maladies

URI library hosting exhibit on Jamestown sanitarium
that used electricity to treat maladies
Runs through October

KINGSTON, R.I. – October 2, 2001 – The University of Rhode Island Library will host throughout this month an exhibit on an electropathic sanitarium that operated in Jamestown from 1900 through 1944.

The result of nine years of research by Jamestown resident Sue Maden, a retired librarian and nurse, the exhibit is titled “The Dr. Bates Sanitarium in Jamestown, R.I. and the Family Who Ran It, 1900-1944.

The exhibit, which opened this week, is funded by the Rhode Island Committee for the Humanities. A reception will be held on Thursday, Oct. 11 in the Galanti Lounge of the library. It is free and open to the public.

Maden was invited to bring her exhibit to URI by Janet Hirsch, nursing professor emerita, and Margaret Keefe, an associate professor at the URI library.

“This is a wonderful research project that should interest those in engineering, library sciences, nursing and history,” Hirsch said.

“This is the uncovering of something local that hasn’t received a lot of attention,” Maden said.

“We have a goal here at the URI library to find information on the common man in Rhode Island,” Keefe said. “This exhibit is all about the common man.”

Called Maplewood, the Bates Sanitarium was opened and run by William Lincoln Bates, a man orphaned when he was 6 and who at 17 was sentenced to the Providence Reform School. He never did attend medical school, but instead earned a certificate from the Philadelphia Electropathic Institute.

“He was intelligent and resourceful, and he had a magical view of electricity,” Maden said.
A newspaper ad touting the benefits of the sanitarium said, “For mental and nervous diseases; convalescents and those requiring change of environment. Cases of alcoholic or narcotic drug addition received when sent by a physician.”

Another announcement said: “Medical Electricity! Static, Faradic and Galvanic Electricity used in the treatment of all Spinal and Nervous Ailments, Also, Stomach, Liver, Kidney and Lung Diseases treated by Dr. William Bates, Specialist in Electricity.”

The exhibit at URI, housed on the first floor adjacent to the circulation desk, features nine panels with 123 images, two exhibit cases with medical and family memorabilia and notebooks with detailed sanitarium and Bates family history. The exhibit is free and open to the public when the library is open—Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to midnight; Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday, 1 p.m. to midnight.

For Information:Dave Lavallee 401-874-2116