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Trudeau Institute scientist Andrea Cooper, former Adirondack Museum director Caroline Welsh and Historic Saranac Lake Executive Director Amy Catania watch as Saranac Lake historian and author Mary Hotaling unwraps the original manuscript of Dr. Edward Livingston Trudeau's autobiography during a reception at the institute. Photo by Chris Knight, Adirondack Daily Enterprise
Trudeau Institute scientist Andrea Cooper, former Adirondack Museum director Caroline Welsh and Historic Saranac Lake Executive Director Amy Catania watch as Saranac Lake historian and author Mary Hotaling unwraps the original manuscript of Dr. Edward Livingston Trudeau's autobiography during a reception at the institute. Photo by Chris Knight, Adirondack Daily Enterprise

EL Trudeau papers unwapped, 90 years later

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The original manuscript of Dr. Edward Livingston Trudeau's autobiography had been hidden away for decades, tied with twine and sealed with wax.

It was finally opened recently at the Saranac Lake biomedical research institute that continues to carry on his legacy.

The ceremony at Trudeau Institute was a fundraiser for a new book about E.L. Trudeau, the physician and scientist who turned Saranac Lake into a world-renowned center for tuberculosis curing and research.

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Reported by

Chris Knight
Adirondack Correspondent

Saranac Lake historian Mary Hotaling stood at a table amid a crowd of excited and interested onlookers, slowly unwrapping a package that hadn’t been opened for at least 90 years.

Although the words "original Trudeau manuscript" were written on it, no one was certain if that's what was really there.

Inside was a thick stack of papers that appear to be the original typed manuscript of Trudeau's 1916 autobiography with hand-written notations in its margins. There was also a letter from E.L. Trudeau to his publisher.

For Hotaling, who’s working on a biography of Trudeau, these documents will provide more insight about the man who put Saranac Lake on the map.

"I’m looking forward to spending more time with this,” she said.

Born in New York City, Trudeau contracted tuberculosis in 1873 and moved with his wife and family to the Adirondacks where his health improved and he started a medical practice in Saranac Lake.

In 1885, he established the Adirondack Cottage Sanitarium for the treatment of tuberculosis patients, which transformed the village into a TB curing center and continued to operate until 1954. Trudeau also created the Saranac Laboratory for the Study of Tuberculosis, the predecessor of today's Trudeau Institute, a nonprofit Saranac Lake-based biomedical research center.

Hotaling's biography of Trudeau would be the first to written about him since at least 1959.

“(It) began really as an effort to reprint the autobiography, and it’s morphed into more of a biography which will be more or less, one third historic photos, one third of Dr. Trudeau’s words from his autobiography and about a third of my interpretation of his life,” Hotaling said.

The book will be focused on Trudeau’s character, the life experiences that formed his character and his accomplishments, Hotaling said.

“It’s intended to be as scholarly as I can make it, but it’s also intended to be a popular history that will get people to look at the pictures and go back and read the real autobiography.”

Tuberculosis continues to be a major problem in some parts of the world, and Trudeau’s work is still relevant today, according to Andrea Cooper, a member of the Trudeau Institute faculty and its Francis B. Trudeau chair in tuberculosis and related research.

“This gentleman is an inspiration scientifically, as well as a physician and a patient,” she said. “He was a scientist who believed in the importance of the scientific method and determining exactly how this bacteria interacts with the body and how it manipulates the body. It’s an important question now, it’s an important way of addressing health issues, and it’s critical we all support that scientific method in developing public health in the future.”

Cooper will be writing a chapter in the biography that connects Trudeau’s work to modern science.

Former Adirondack Museum director Caroline Welsh is serving as the project's administrator.

“To be able to work with Dr. Cooper who is the authority here at Trudeau Institute, it allows us to tie the science back to Trudeau Institute. Dr. Trudeau was always all about science and hope. Those two critical points were really the underpinning of his work and why he was such a charismatic success as a doctor and as an evangelizer for the treatment of tuberculosis.”

The biography is set to be published in 2015, on the 100th anniversary of Trudeau’s death.

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