HUNTINGDON - By pulling together bits and pieces of history, two local women have teamed up to put together a book about the beginnings, the changing times and everything in between, of J.C. Blair Memorial Hospital in Huntingdon.
Published on Oct. 4, and now offered internationally, "Images of America: J.C. Blair Memorial Hospital," was written and compiled by Nancy Shedd, of the Petersburg area, and Alberta Haught Goshorn, of Mount Union. Both retired, Shedd previously held the position of executive director at the Huntingdon County Historical Society, and Haught Goshorn was a public librarian at the Huntingdon County Library and the Altoona Area Public Library. She has spent time volunteering and conducting paid research at the Huntingdon County Historical Society.
The book, published by Arcadia Publishing, is 128 pages and contains more than 200 photographs.
Shedd and Haught Goshorn have known each other for many years. They worked together at the Huntingdon County Historical Society for about 15 years. Although this is the first book Haught Goshorn has been involved in, Shedd has worked on 10 to 12 books. Her previous work on books has involved editing, authoring or putting together documents, she said.
J.C. Blair Memorial Hospital staff had been looking ahead to its anniversary about two years ago when the idea for the book surfaced, Shedd said.
The hospital's anniversary is in September, 2011, so an extended period of celebrations were being planned, Shedd said.
"With that in mind they formed a committee of community people" to think of centennial projects, she said.
Arcadia Publishing contacted the hospital about a book, Shedd said. The publishing company contacts various historical societies, town councils and other groups to look for titles for books. Arcadia currently has about 5,000 to 6,000 titles across the country, she said.
Then, Marsha Hartman, executive director of the J.C. Blair Memorial Hospital Foundation, got the ball rolling in terms of book plans, Shedd said.
"I was a member of that committee," she said, so Hartman asked her, sometime in 2008, if she would compile a book for the hospital.
At first she didn't want to, Shedd said, but said to do the project she'd need help.
"I need Alberta," she had said, who in turn agreed to help.
"Alberta was very sweet as she usually is," Shedd said.
The two then began working on the book, Shedd said. They were already aware of a few images of the hospital, she said, but they knew they had to find more. So with help from Huntingdon's newspaper, The Daily Item, they were able to locate more.
The two most important sources for the book, Shedd said, were documentary evidence taken from two areas: minutes from the hospital's auxiliary meetings dated from 1913 to 1949; and scrapbooks of newspaper clippings auxiliary members kept. The clippings, from 1947 to 1997, also included photos, she said.
Shedd and Haught Goshorn also researched hospital doctors in The Daily Item's morgue, Shedd said.
"They filed all the clippings in little envelopes," she said, and even had portrait photos of doctors to go with the clippings.
"This is what a local newspaper is to its community," she said, explaining that local newspapers hold a lot of history and are "invaluable" as a source of information.
What's it about?
Because of the "memorial" part in the hospital's name, the book contains a chapter about J.C. Blair, for whom the hospital is named, and his wife, Shedd said.
According to the book, John Chalmers Blair was born in 1847 near Shade Gap, and died in 1897 at 49 years old.
"In a life cut prematurely short, he had achieved the greatest entrepreneurial success ever attained by