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Mahwah Exhibit Traces History Of Getting Healthy

One of the Mahwah Museum's newest exhibits explores the history of medicine in Mahwah.
One of the Mahwah Museum's newest exhibits explores the history of medicine in Mahwah. Photo Credit: Lauren Kidd Ferguson

MAHWAH, N.J. – A new exhibit at the Mahwah Museum is giving visitors a glimpse of how medicine has changed in Northwest Bergen County.

There was a time when one man “would take care of you from cradle to grave,” said John Edwards, curator of the History of Medicine.

Henry Crippen Near, who lived from 1838 to 1911, delivered babies, and owned a mortuary and a cemetery, Edwards said.

Near is just one of the many people highlighted in the exhibit.

“I have no idea how effective they were,” said Edwards, also the president of the museum.

By creating the exhibit, Edwards said he wanted to answer questions like, “What did people do for medical help? How did they deal with medicine? How much of it was self-medication?”

He learned that Johannes Van Emburgh, the first doctor in Bergen County, had an office in Hackensack, but “didn’t come up here a whole lot.”

He also learned that in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s, a doctor would travel from town to town, to do things like fix broken bones and shoe horses, but people in Mahwah wouldn’t see him much. “In his travels, you would see him every one to two years,” Edwards said.

The exhibit also traces the history of the opening of hospitals in North Jersey and Rockland County, N.Y., as well as the expansion of ambulance services.

Edwards said he would like visitors to “come away with an appreciation for the capabilities of modern medicine."

"Now you are in and out in a couple hours. In the old days you could be laid up for weeks before you see a doctor for a broken bone,” he said.

The Mahwah Museum is located at 201 Franklin Turnpike. For information on hours and tours, visit http://mahwahmuseum.org .

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