NLM Home Page If you knew the conditions...


In 1907, Susan La Flesche Picotte, the first Native American woman M.D., wrote a letter to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs. Her letter describes the health conditions and needs of her tribe, the Omahas, living in Nebraska. She begins to describe affairs, writing, "If you knew the conditions...." Picotte's words are echoed in the title of this exhibit and a reproduction of her letter is displayed near the end.

The exhibit focuses on the administration of health care to Native American recipients by the United States Government. It examines the evolution of government responsibility and its transfer through the Departments of War, the Interior, and Health, Education, and Welfare, now the Department of Health and Human Services.

Items exhibited comprise, mainly, collections of the National Library of Medicine. These are supplemented by loaned items from the Dickinson College Library's Special Collections. Also displayed are photographic and textual reproductions of materials from the National Archives and Records Administration, the National Anthropological Archives of the Smithsonian Institution, and the Cumberland County Historical Society in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

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Last updated: 20 April 1998