This study will result in a book on the history of rural medical practice in the upper Midwestern United States from 1900 to 1950. The six states of the Upper Midwest - Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Nebraska, North and South Dakota - represent diverse rural environments, dominated alternately by extractive industries, farming, rural manufacturing, and cattle raising.
The aims of this project are to provide a comprehensive view of rural medicine and its changes in the first half of the twentieth century, and to address three significant deficiencies in the historiography: first, to focus on rural, general practice rather than on urban, hospital-based medicine; second, to cover the Upper Midwest, a neglected region in medical history: and third, to examine physicians' practices, an element of twentieth-century medicine woefully undervalued by contemporary historians. Rural doctors will be the primary lens for viewing the history of rural health and medicine. To reconstruct the experience of sickness and medical care in rural life for both physicians and patients, this project will use doctors' account books, patient records, financial papers, hospital records, and published and unpublished memoirs and diaries of rural Midwestern physicians and other rural residents. The role of government in rural health and the effect of regional planning for the distribution of medical resources will also be evaluated, using public records. All of the relevant documents and materials are available in the state historical society archives of the six upper Midwestern states, state and national archives, and in the records of the Commonwealth Fund, the American Red Cross, the Farm Foundation, and the AMA.