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There are many books about tuberculosis, and what follows is only a partial list. Older books can be interesting for historical background, but medically oriented publications are outdated in their information.


Stronger than Death: The Story of AnnaLeana Tonelli by Rachel Pieh Jones is about one woman’s dedication to fighting TB in Africa. Part of her challenge was persuading nomadic peoples to remain in one spot and isolate. Tonelli was assassinated in 2003, one of many health care workers killed during local wars. Plough Publishing, 2019.

Open Window: The Lake Julia Sanatorium by Pat Nelson is part memoir and part history of a Minnesota sanatorium at which her parents worked.  Independently published, 2020.

I Wanted to Live by Will Ross is an out-of-print book, but used copies can be found online. It is worth reading for its first-person narrative of having one’s life upset by TB and a sanatorium stay. Wisconsin Anti-Tuberculosis Association, 1953.

Interrupted Lives:  The History of Tuberculosis in Minnesota and Glen Lake Sanatorium by Mary Krugerud begins with a summary of the spread of TB in the state and the formation of a unique county system of care. The bulk of the book is about care and treatment in the state’s largest sanatorium, with many quotes and comments from interviews with former patients and employees.  North Star Press, St. Cloud, MN  2017.

The Girl in Building C: The Story of a Teenage Tuberculosis Patient is a collection of letters written by Marilyn Barnes from Ah-gwah-ching State Sanatorium to her parents in St. Peter, MN.  The letters were edited and annotated by Mary Krugerud. Minnesota Historical Society Press, St. Paul, MN, 2018.

Spitting Blood by Helen Bynum details the world's experience with tuberculosis, especially in countries where it is co-existent with HIV and other infections. Oxford University Press, 2012.

Catching Breath: The Making and Unmaking of Tuberculosis by Kathryn Lougheed. Bloomsbury Press, 2017. 


Queen of Hearts: Coming of Age in a Hospital Bed by Martha Brooks is a young-adult book, but interesting enough to be read by adults, too. The author was raised in a medical family at a TB sanatorium in Manitoba and the details are accurate. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011.

Breathing Room by Marsha Hayles places 13-year-old Evvy in Minnesota’s fictional Loon Lake Sanatorium. Hayles’ father was a doctor at Mayo Clinic, and this book presents a realistic experience in a story that will satisfy adult readers, too.  Square Fish, 2013.

The Air We Breathe by Andrea Barrett is set in an upstate New York sanatorium during World War I. It continues characters and relationships established in an earlier book by the author, so the intrigues take a back seat to accurate sanatorium experiences. W. W. Norton & Company, 2007.

End of Temperance Dare by Wendy Webb is a supernatural thriller set in a sanatorium on Lake Superior.  It’s a satisfactory mystery read, with sanatorium details secondary to the plot. Lake Union,  2017.

The Sanatorium by Suzanne Wilson is loosely based on the experiences of her aunt at Glen Lake Sanatorium in Minnesota. It is self-published and available as an e-book.


Historical Societies:

The Minnesota Historical Society, Gale Research Library, in St. Paul is the primary source for tuberculosis-related information. The records from the state sanatorium, Ah Gwah Ching, and the Hennepin County sanatorium, Glen Lake, include patient cards and admission books that provide some information about patients. Both collections have many photographs, too. Only a few county sanatoriums have records at the Minnesota Historical Society or in historical societies based in the counties where the sanatoriums were located.


The smaller sanatoriums often provided updates to their local newspaper. Microfilmed copies of newspapers are at the Minnesota Historical Society. Some county historical societies or libraries may also have copies. Data privacy was a limited concept until the mid-1940s, so reading some old newspapers might turn up a relative's name.