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"Rough Medicine: The Medicine & Surgery of the American Revolution"
A presentation by Dr. Raymond Sullivan


Monday, May 11, 2015
7:30 pm
The Community Room of
the C.H. Booth Library
25 Main St., Newtown, CT







We all know that life in the Revolutionary War army was harsh and led to disease and injury, but what about the remedies for those conditions? What did one do when a soldier became sick while enduring the brutal Valley Forge winters or was injured in battle?

Dr. Sullivan will re-enact the character of Dr. John Warren and discuss what the Continental Army doctors would have faced. He will include the state of medicine in 1776 as well as Indian remedies and anesthesia alternatives.

The state of medicine had not progressed beyond the theory that the four humors, blood, phlegm, yellow and black bile, regulated both health and medical treatment. By far the most common remedy was bleeding, which was thought to remove the bad cause of a disease as well as lowering the temperature in the case of fever. This could be done by cutting a vein and letting blood drip into a cup or by attaching leeches to the skin and letting them go to work.

Other remedies might include various herbal remedies taken from traditional or Indian sources, usually administered by way of infusing into a tea. The concept of infection was unknown, either in personal or environmental hygiene or the use of antiseptics. The only anesthesia available was a a stiff alcoholic drink, otherwise it was time to "bite the bullet." Proper diet was often impossible to obtain and contributed to the problem.

Dr. Sullivan will dress and play the part of Dr. John Warren, a colonial and Revolutionary era doctor who would become the first professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. Warren was an important medical practitioner who influenced the development of medicine in the early United States. He was the brother of the hero of the Battle of Bunker Hill, Dr. Joseph Warren, and the father of John Collins Warren, who succeeded his father as the second Harvard professor of medicine. Sullivan will not only dress the part but will bring the tools of the eighteenth century medical trade with him and explain their often gruesome use.

Ray Sullivan was a surgeon at the Waterbury Hospital Health Center for over 30 years, serving as Chief of Staff there. He is also interested in New England history, and has published two books on the subject. He is a Revolutionary War re-enactor, serving with Glover's Marblehead Regiment, and has spoken widely on the subject of Revolutionary War medicine.


Open House and Beekeeping Demonstration


Sunday, May 17, 2015
12:00 - 4:00 pm
Matthew Curtiss House
44 Main St., Newtown, CT

Come learn why the colonial method of using a skep is now illegal as Norman Cote, of Norwalk, compares colonial methods to modern. Norman has traveled the world, particularly in Africa and South America, teaching beekeeping.


Open House and Marble Making Demonstration


Sunday, June 14, 2015
12:00 - 4:00 pm
Matthew Curtiss House
44 Main St., Newtown, CT

Whether you used to play, do play, or wish you knew how to play marbles, please join us as Thomas Kingsley, of Kingsley Marbles, demonstrates how he makes collector quality marbles. Then join us for a game or two.


Walking Tour of The Village Cemetery, Dan Cruson


Sunday, June 14, 2015
1:00 - 1:45pm
The Village Cemetery
Elm Drive

In conjunction with our Open House, Dan will be leading a tour of the oldest sections of Newtown's primary cemetery. Participants will meet at the Elm Street entrance and will take a walk as he explains the 19th century burial area. Then in the 18th century section he will give a detailed explanation of how this area was laid out and why the headstones appear as they do. Wear comfortable shoes. At the conclusion of the tour, please stop by the Mathew Curtiss House for refreshments.


Second Annual Antiques Market


Saturday, June 27, 2015
10:00am - 5:00pm
Fairfield Hills Campus
3 Primrose Street


This event benefits the Newtown Historical Society and will feature 75 to 100 exhibitors in an informal setting of tents and pop-up canopies offering a wide variety of antiques. Tickets are $8 and can be purchased at the gate.


Annual House and Garden Tour


Sunday, June 28, 2015
11:00am - 5:00pm
Around Newtown

Mark your calendars. The date for this year's tour has been set. Please watch our website and Facebook events page for details on ticket sale locations, as well as houses and gardens. Tickets will be $25 in advance or $30 the day of for adults and $10 in advance or $15 the day of for children ages 8 - 12.


History Camp


July 13th - July 17th, 2015
9:00am - 12:00pm or
1:00pm - 4:00pm
Matthew Curtiss House

This unique camp is designed for children ages 8, 9 & 10 and each session is limited to 12 campers to guarantee a rich, hands-on experience. Cost is $125 for members and $150 for non-members. Please contact Gordon Williams for further information or to register at 203-405-6392.

      History Camp Page


The Newtown Historical Society visits Rosie the Riveter in WWII


Monday, Sept 14, 2015
7:30 pm
C.H. Booth Library
25 Main St., Newtown, CT



John Cilio

John Cilio, author and historical presenter will tell the epic story of an era when American men went off to war and the women remained behind to care for families and fill the enormous gap left by the soldiers. His talk will question what contemporary women's options would be if our nation had not experienced the conditions that unlocked so many new opportunities.

Not only did women enlist in every branch of service open to them, serving around the world, they took the place of men at home. They organized bond and scrap drives, wrapped packages for GI Christmases, knitted and sewed. But they also worked at "men's" jobs: with very little formal training or time for apprenticeships, women became machinists, carpenters, meteorologists, radio broadcasters, farm workers, nurses, munitions specialists - and of course, riveters. They started with the mission to help their country and their friends and relatives in the war and ended up proving their competence in thousands of roles previously held by men only.

Proving their competence gave women a status they had not had in this country at any time in the past. They were aware of their new capabilities, they were making their own decisions, and they were earning their own money, truly a New Woman. As Hudie Ledbetter famously sang, though from a rather different point of view, in his National Defense Blues, "every payday would come, her check was big as mine." Although the postwar years saw a return to a pre-war social milieu, the seeds were sown and women would not remain long in their old roles, even if paychecks have lagged.

John Cilio will use a large collection of vintage quotes, stories and photographs to document the chain of circumstances that propelled the nation to realize that women can be an overtly sustaining force within our society.

Please email, or call with any suggestions for programs, etc.
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