Ramsey County History Winter 2023: Children’s Preventorium

Ramsey County History Winter 2023: Children’s Preventorium
Paul Nelson

Volume 57, Number 4: Winter 2023

The Children’s Preventorium of Ramsey County
Author: Paul Nelson

History is challenging to piece together, but author Paul Nelson got lucky as he profiled the Children’s Preventorium of Ramsey County at Lake Owasso. Thanks to elders who once lived there as children and still remember; thanks to attentive citizens, historians, and former employees who scrambled to salvage records, photographs, and artifacts headed to the landfill when the facility shuttered its doors; thanks to relatives of past “inmates” who helped tell their loved ones’ stories, Nelson brings to life the thirty-eight-year history of the facility. He profiles its doctors, a director, and social worker, who sheltered at-risk youth from the ravages of tuberculosis—and poverty, the Great Depression, and even, sometimes, abuse. He introduces children who lived there (often for years) and spent hours under sunlamps and outside in the fresh Minnesota air. Many thrived. Others still live with the hurt they felt as frightened youngsters, not understanding why there were suddenly separated from family. Nelson has masterfully examined many preserved primary sources to weave together this mostly forgotten story from Ramsey County’s past.

PDF of P. Nelson article

Supplements to the article
The Preventorium in Context
The Preventorium By the Numbers
A Preventorium Reflection: Clyde Habas
A Preventorium Reflection: Margaret Krell
A Preventorium Family Story: The Oldenburgs