Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Welcome to Tiberias, Home of David W. Torrance,
19th Century Doctor, Missionary, Photographer

Arab and Jewish patients waiting outside of the dispensary of the hospital (1886)
Torrence Collection, "Unlocking the Medicine Chest," University of Dundee
Open the digital files of the Scots Missionary Hospital of Tiberias in the University of Dundee medical archives. Skim past the gruesome clinical pictures of patients with anthrax, typhoid, amputations, and deformities.  And find the photographic treasures left behind by the father-son team, David Watt Torrance and Herbert Watt Torrance who ran the hospital along the shores of the Sea of Galilee from 1884 until 1959. 

See more on the Torrances here.

Original caption: "General view of the shore of Lake Galilee,
showing people washing clothes and cooking utensils and
drawing water at the same spot." (circa 1910)

The Torrance photos show the primitive conditions in Tiberias which was confined by Ottoman rulers to remain a small walled city until the early 20th century. The town was pillaged and destroyed by marauding armies over the centuries.  Earthquakes, plagues, and floods devastated the town. 

On the back of the picture of washing at the Sea of Galilee shore appears this notation: "No wonder there were outbreaks of cholera, enteric fever and such diseases! Father [Dr David Torrance] took the 'boilers' from the hospital wash-house into the town so that people could obtain boiled water."

"The old walls and castle of Tiberias" (1890)

Aerial photo of Tiberias, 1938,
showing expansion of the town

Future features:  The great Tiberias flood, and the Jews of Tiberias.

Click on pictures to enlarge. Click on captions to view the original photos.
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