Cresson TB Sanatorium Remembered

I recently became aware that there were young children sent to Cresson sanatorium even thought they did not have TB. In fact, even thought Cresson once had more than 250 children as patients, only a few of them were active cases of TB. For the majority, the hospital served as a preventorium (meaning sanatorium care to prevent TB). Most of these children had been exposed to the disease, usually in their own homes, and were therefore potential victims. Under a regimen which included rest, good food, fresh air and sunshine the children were built up to resist TB. But the selection criteria could be very loose and even children who were just considered undernourished or sickly were sent to Cresson as well. For some, it might seem like a summer camp lasting only 2 or 3 months. But for others it could be years. The first preventorium opened in 1909 in Lakewood, NJ. with this type of care continuing right up to 1950.
The problem is that many of these children have no understanding even now as adults as to why they had to leave their families and go to Cresson. It's my hope that those who underwent preventorium care may be able to gain some understanding of the process and to take some comfort in knowing that they were admitted to Cresson with their best welfare in mind.
The Pa State Archives have provided photos of children at the Cresson Preventorium, which can be seen by clicking on " Pa Archives 1".


"Spunk" was a monthly magazine published by the Pennsylvania State Tuberculosis Sanatoria.  The following poem/song was written by a young patient at Cresson circa 1916.

C is for the Cure that makes us better;
R is for the Rules we must obey;
E is for the Eats which fill our stomachs;
SS are for the SongS learned in our play;
O is for the Outlook from our windows;
N is for the Nurses sweet and gay-
Put them together they spell Cresson,
Where we children dearly love to stay.

M.B. , age 13, one of the Kiddies.




Click on the dates below to read that issue of Spunk Magazine.

1. 1920 September

2. 1942 July

3. 1942 August

4. 1942 September

5. 1942 October



(From a 1911 Article)
Spunk," the little monthly periodical published by the patients of the Sanatorium has proved a valuable agency in keeping up the spirits and aiding the recovery of the patients. A State Senator in communication to the editor truthfully says: "It is comparatively easy to do one's duly when the eyes of many are upon us— many frequently act fearing they would otherwise be thought cowards, but to do a brave thing when few know of the sacrifice is really greatness and the prompting to do it, and the act of doing it are the property of the soul."  It is an ably edited journal, with many interesting contributors and is a benefit alike to
those who write and those who read.


An internet search on the word preventorium reveals many newspaper articles, medical journal papers and books on the subject.  Several good examples are shown  on the "Favorite Links" page. 

American Public Health Association 1930  article “What Is A Preventorium” is at    Sun Worshipping In Pennsylvania Kids 

Canada’s Role In Fighting TB and Preventorium Care is at  

For many photos of children at a preventorium, go to  

For an article in the  Altoona Mirror  Dec. 8, 1921 entitled, "CRESSON SANITORIUM CHILDREN APPEAL FOR 1921 SANTA CLAUS" go to 

An excellant book on this subject is entitled "Saving Sickly Children: The Tuberculosis Preventorium in American Life, 1909-1970"   by Cynthia A. Connolly   182 Pages    Published 2008