Hot Springs Medical Journal

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Hot Springs (Garland County) was home to the Hot Springs Medical Journal, first published in January 1892. Although medical journals were published in nearby locations including Little Rock (Pulaski County), Memphis, Tennessee, and St. Louis, Missouri, the founders of the publication felt that the natural hot springs for which the city was named provided a great resource for many patients. They stated in the first volume: “The city of Hot Springs, Arkansas is…the greatest sanitarium on earth, and in a few years is inevitably destined to become the most universally frequented health resort in the world.”

At that time, Hot Springs was already quite a tourist area. The resident population was 15,000, but the number of yearly visitors totaled about 50,000. There were 500 hotels or boarding houses, twenty bath houses, and fifty-seven physicians.

The physicians involved in this new publishing venture were James M. Keller, S. W. Franklin, Thomas E. Holland, and J. C. Minor. James M. Keller, who moved to Hot Springs in 1877, served as president of the Hot Springs Medical Society and was the uncle of Helen Keller. Also involved was William H. Barry, who moved to Hot Springs in 1875 and served as president of the Hot Springs Medical Society and of the Board of Health. He was also a city council member and the first superintendent of schools, and he operated a charity hospital.

Over the years, many noteworthy articles appeared. Although local physicians contributed, the journal also attracted authors from many other states. Diseases addressed included syphilis and rheumatic disorders, which people believed could be helped by the therapeutic waters. (To give an idea of the syphilis problem and the treatment of the time, in April 1892, Dr. M. A. Thompson in the journal article “Mercury in the Treatment of Syphilis” estimated that 10,000 pounds of mercurial ointment was annually dispensed in the city.)

All aspects of medical treatment were represented in original articles as well as in summaries of medical meeting presentations, medical society events, and editorials. In November 1900, a detailed dissertation on “The Philosophy of the Science and Art of Medicine” was contributed by W. F. Barclay of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

The Hot Springs Medical Journal ceased publication in 1907. Its volumes evidenced not only great expectations of the city as a resort and enthusiasm in medical writing, but also gave a view of a unique era of medical practice and Hot Springs in its heyday.

For additional information:
Greenwood, R. D. “The Hot Springs Medical Journal Revisited: Its First Year, 1892.” The Record (2017): 2.1–2.10.

Hot Springs Medical Journal 1–16 (1892–1907).

“Looking Back, 1892.” The Record (2017): 3.1–3.8.

Ronald D. Greenwood
Garland County Historical Society


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