Tuberculosis, also known as consumption, scrofula, TB, Pott’s disease, phthisis, and the white plague, was especially dangerous to people who lived in large cities, as well as those who lived in cramped spaces and poverty.

I came across an interesting newspaper article, published July 14, 1894, in the Sacred Heart Review (Boston).

1894 Jul 14 TB ARTICLE The Sacred Heart Review newspaper Boston

People with tuberculois suffered with hacking, coughing up blood, pain in their chest, fatique, shortness of breath, loss of appetite, weight loss, chills and fever.

Tuberculosis window
Old Woman and Three Children in a Tenement

Instead of providing windows that opened to the outdoors for fresh air, landlords in New York City thought these interior windows would be a cheaper way to increase air flow throughout an apartment and help prevent the spread of diseases such as tuberculosis, which is why they have been coined “tuberculosis windows.”  Of course, they were wrong.  In 1901, a city law was passed requiring exterior windows in each room of new residences.

If you’d like to learn more about tuberculosis, you will want to check out these links.

University of Virginia Historical Exhibits- Early Research and Treatment of Tuberculosis in the 19th Century

Ephemeral New York – Tuberculosis Windows

The Forgotten Plague