A visit to the Arkansas Country Doctor Museum is a chance to learn about health, science, and history, all in one eye-opening trip.
The museum includes the Dr. Harold L. Boyer Educational Building, containing extensive exhibits showing life in the early 20th century and health care equipment from the 19th and 20th century. Visitors have an opportunity to see an iron lung, early optometry equipment, surgical tools used on Civil War battlefields, and more artifacts of life –and death — long ago.
There are more exhibits on the grounds, including the horse-drawn carriage one of the doctors used for house calls and the hand-cranked car a later doctor used for his. Three different doctors practiced and lived in this building, so we have a large slice of history here!
In fact, some of the herbs grown in the medicinal gardens on the grounds were probably a legacy from the Native Americans who first lived in the area.
We participate in M*A*S*H (Medical Applications of Science for Health) and CHAMPS (Careers in Health and Medical Professions) programs, but we are also delighted to welcome school groups, home educators and homeschool groups, Lifelong Learning groups, and the general public.
Before your visit
Here are some discussion questions to present to students before you visit.
- What’s it like to visit a doctor now? What does a doctor’s office look like? What will you see when you go in for an appointment?
- Do doctors and nurses go to people’s houses? Have you ever heard of a house call?
- Where do doctors live?
- What kinds of helpers do modern doctors have? What kinds of workers are there in a hospital or clinic?
- Name some tools doctors use. What kinds of equipment might you see in a doctor’s office or a hospital?
- What diseases and injuries do you hear about now? Do you think people need medical care for the same reasons now as in the past?
- What are some medications health care professionals might use now?
During your visit
You will be able to have a guided tour with a knowledgeable volunteer. Students will be expected to stay with the group and to touch exhibits only if they are invited to do so (volunteers know what’s safe to handle!), but you should encourage students to ask plenty of questions. Many of our volunteers have personal experience of health care from the past and they’re happy to share.
The Arkansas Country Doctor Museum has many artifacts and documents on exhibit, but many more are not on display. If there are special subjects you are studying, or if you have particular questions you’d like answered, please feel free to contact the museum before your visit, and we will prepare research materials.
After your visit
Once you’ve been to the museum, ask students to share some of the things they found surprising. Revisit the questions above and see if students can tell you how some of these things have changed.
Here are some writing prompts for follow-up writing:
- Write a diary entry as a doctor or a patient in the 1900s. Choose a specific date and make sure your information is appropriate for the year.
- Write a letter home as a new doctor who has just come west to Arkansas after training as a doctor. Describe your life and work.
- Read some of the poetry of Peggy McCormack and write a poem of your own.
- Choose an artifact from the museum and research the modern equivalent. Explain how things have changed and how they are the same. Include illustrations.
- Research one of the medical conditions you learned about at the museum, such as polio or tuberculosis, and describe how it is treated today.