Silver City Museum lecture focuses on hospital history

Nurse Parks from Fort Bayard Hospital, taken during the interwar years.

SILVER CITY, NM – The Silver City Museum’s Unpacking Silver City talk and talk series will center on local medical historian Heather Moorland speaking on “The Evolution of Hospital Care in Grant County (1883-1937)” . The presentation is set for 11 a.m. on Saturday, August 7.

She will focus on the story of how local women founded the “Ladies Hospital” to fill the dismal healthcare gap for the growing population of indigent minors, and later for all who needed it. , until a modern hospital was finally built.

She will later be joined in the discussion by guest commentators representing community stakeholders, including a retired physician and local historian, Dr Don Montoya.

To register and attend these programs online, visit, click

At the end of the 19th century, Silver City played its part in the development of the territory of New Mexico. Grant County was teeming with minors and transients who had neither the means nor the families to help in a medical emergency or illness.

Explosions, falls, accidents, disease and infection plagued all residents, but the poor were at a serious disadvantage. In 1883, a group of women decided to set up a hospital to “provide some kind of shelter, care and treatment for elderly and sick prospectors and miners.” He then provided help to anyone who needed it.

Health care at that time had few elements of the modern health care we know today. What was to be known as Ladies Hospital began in a small chalet that was originally built for workers in the planning factory. Over the decades the location has changed, and while the dedication of women has never wavered, advances in science and technology have outstripped the usefulness of 19th century buildings and unauthorized personnel. During the New Deal era, the city was able to negotiate grants and loans to erect a purpose-built hospital on the northern edge of Silver City, which opened in 1937.

Moorland studied the history of medicine at Western New Mexico University and the University of New Mexico. She is particularly interested in local history and how the city has dealt with health and disease issues and has published articles on New Mexico nurses, Mary Seacole and Ethel Gordon Fenwick. In addition to teaching history at WNMU and UNM, she has lectured at the Silver City Museum and the Western Institute for Lifelong Learning.

Unpacking Silver City is made possible by a grant from the New Mexico Humanities Council, with essential support from our local partner, the Western Institute for Lifelong Learning. Presentations are 30 to 45 minutes long, followed by a moderate question-and-answer session with the presenter. After a brief intermission, the moderated discussion with guest commentators begins with encouraged audience participation.

The information gathered in this series, including public discussions, will be part of the Silver City Museum’s ambitious future exhibit, Silver City 101, which will provide guests and residents with an introduction to local history. The exhibition will include physical objects and on-site exhibits, as well as a large digital component that will be accessible online.

The Silver City Museum creates opportunities for residents and visitors to explore, understand, and celebrate the rich and diverse cultural heritage of southwestern New Mexico by collecting, preserving, researching, and interpreting the unique history of the region. It is nationally recognized through its accreditation by the American Alliance of Museums.

For more information on this program or others, contact; to volunteer, contact; to join the Silver City Museum Society, contact For all of the above and more, visit or call the main office at 575-388-5921.

About Hubert Lee

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