Master's Theses



Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


From the mid-nineteenth century until the early decades of the twentieth century, medicine underwent a tremendous transformation. No longer was medicine to be based on archaic theories that were grounded on unquantifiable guesswork. Instead, medicine became scientifically progressive, pushing the reliability and credibility of medical professionals to new heights. Scientific progressivism was the concept of standardizing medicine around a common set of ideals, such as basing treatment upon scientifically sound methods and procedures. A scientifically progressive community can be identified through the application of one or more of the following criteria: education adaptability, and technology. These three criteria could be found at various times in Hays. I interpreted these three criteria from works written by a variety of medical historian. Through these authors’ analysis of the development of science-based medicine, I was able to identify key elements that made a community medically progressive. When these criteria were applied to Hays, they showed that the community was medically progressive form 1867 to 1918. The first phase of medical progressivism in hays came when Fort Hays was opened nearby in 1867 and lasted until 1889. The fort included a post hospital where soldiers and civilians would seek treatment for their various medical needs. The hospital and its staff provided progressive care due to the high level of education and technology located within the facility. The military, during and after the Civil War, instigated major reforms to their Army Medical Department (AMD), allowing progressive minded leaders to implement the latest scientific education. THE AMD had stringent standards concerning education, cleanliness, and methodology. This created an army medical corps that was as progressive as possible, providing the best of all possible care to soldiers and civilian alike. The progressive nature of the AMD would manifest itself into the Hays community through the discharge of progressively trained hospital staff that would integrate themselves as drug store owners and medical professionals. The second phase of medical progressivism in Hays was present from about the late 1870s until 1909. Prior to the closing of the for tin 1889, as the city of Hays grew and medical practitioners unrelated to the fort settled in the town, the community had begun to rely more on these local medical professionals. These individuals were scientifically educated and trained. The pharmacists of Hays were once highly trained hospital stewards at the fort implementing the craft taught to them by the AMD. The physicians who settled in hays were also unique; as they had received proper, science-based education form some of the top, progressive medical institutions in the country. This provided Hays with quality doctors that practiced the best of all possible care in the community. These professionals were the primary source of medical knowledge for the community and the surrounding region until the opening of Hays’ first hospital, St. Anthony’s. The third phase of Hays’ medical progressivism was with the founding of St. Anthony’s hospital in 1909. The Sisters of St. Agnes, a Catholic congregation, founded St Anthony Hospital with a large amount of support from the community. St. Anthony’s first manifestation came in the form of a converted family home that held twenty patients. The new hospital was immensely popular. Within a few years, community leaders decided that a new facility be built to accommodate the growing population of Hays and the expanding role of the hospital in medical culture. The second St. Anthony Hospital was a marvel of modern engineering, employing the latest technologies of communication, sanitation, and inpatient care. Educated nurses who had received training form formal nursing education institutions and scientifically trained doctors staffed the hospital. These dedicated individual provided the best of all possible care to their patients. Community support for the institution was phenomenal, with many touring it as an example of the Western spirit of always moving forward. The citizens of Hays adapted well to the new ideal of receiving medical care form a hospital, establishing a long history of state-of-the-art hospitals in Hays. By the end of 1918, the Spanish influenza ravaged the action, shaking the very core of medicine. The new disease frightened and shocked many medical professionals. The flu acted as an impetus for change. Due to the mystery and devastation left in the wake of the disease, medical reformers were able to press the agenda of science-based medicine. This movement gained much credibility as the nation recovered from the wounds created by the many death associated with this illness. Medical professionals wished to prevent such a travesty form occurring again, with many supporting modern, science-based care to provide this much desired protection. This focus on modernization thrust allopathic practices to the forefront of medicinal theory, as communities began to reform their local medical care, bringing the standard to what the small, rural hays community already possessed. As a result, the rest of the action adopted scientifically progressive medicine.


Kim Perez

Date of Award

Fall 2008

Document Type



© The Author(s)


For questions contact

Included in

History Commons