(Sept. 15, 2003)
Ownership of the Country Doctor Museum in Bailey has been transferred to the Medical Foundation of East Carolina University.
The museum will become part of the Laupus Health Sciences Library's History of Medicine program and will serve as a satellite site for the library that serves the Brody School of Medicine, School of Nursing and School of Allied Health Sciences at ECU.
The Country Doctor Museum Foundation, a non-profit organization that established and operated the museum, felt it was time to pass the property on to an agency that could help the facility grow, according to Dr. Dorothy Spencer, director of the Laupus Library.
"Dr. Josephine Newell, the foundation's president, and her fellow board members have done an excellent job with the museum," Spencer said. "They felt ECU, especially the Health Sciences Division, could help it realize its potential even further."
Established in 1967 by Newell, the museum is housed in two restored 19th-century physician offices that were moved to Bailey and joined to form a single building. The museum includes Dr. Howard Franklin Freeman's office, built in 1857, and an apothecary area. The museum also includes Dr. Cornelius Henry Brantley's office, circa 1887, and displays instruments and equipment of the time. Diaries, papers and medical books used by each physician are part of the exhibit.
Spencer credits Dr. Ruth Moskop, curator for the history of medicine collection, for sparking the university's interest in the museum. Though the museum will be part of the Health Sciences Division, Spencer sees it serving as a resource for interdisciplinary teaching and has received inquiries from faculty in the colleges of Business, Education and Fine Arts and Communications.
Acquisition of the museum also blends well with the mission of the Brody School of Medicine. "Among the specific objectives of our school's mission is a focus on rural health and primary care medicine," Spencer said.
"The museum addresses the challenge of providing primary care in a rural area in the 19th century."
ECU will hire a site director for the museum, which is undergoing slight renovations. The facility has been closed for 13 months and is expected to open in late October or early November, Spencer said.
Property deeds were officially transferred to ECU in August.