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Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Health Seekers: Historical Society Program Tells How Sick and Dying Easterners Flocked to California for their Health

Historian Michele Zack will speak on illness as a major factor in nineteenth and twentieth century immigration to Southern California at the 7:30 p.m. Monday Oct. 24 program of the Altadena Historical Society.

The illustrated program will be held at the Altadena Community Center, 730 E. Altadena Drive, and is free and open to the public.

Zack, an Altadena resident and author of histories of Altadena and Sierra Madre, says that her research has shown “the importance of the illness legacy has been underestimated as an influence of how we think of Southern California today.”

Health seekers who suffered from tuberculosis and other respiratory diseases moved to California and other Western states in large numbers in the 19th and early 20th centuries, seeking respite from their illnesses in the West’s then-dry, unpolluted air.

Altadena was home to a number of TB sanitariums and small hospitals, as were other communities in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains.

The Historical Society’s new exhibit, “Fifty Famous and Fascinating Altadenans,” will be open at 6:30 p.m., an hour prior to the program, for those unable to visit during the Society‘s weekday hours.

The exhibit spotlights movie stars and musicians, artists, authors, scientists and athletes who are current or former Altadena residents, such as musician-comedians The Smothers Brothers, science fiction writer Octavia Butler, tennis star Stan Smith, and scientists Richard Feynman and Charles Richter.

Altadena Historical Society is open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays and by appointment for groups and others at (626) 797-8016. The AHS website is, and its blog is

Founded in 1935, AHS is a non-profit organization that gathers, preserves and makes available information about the people, places and events that shaped the community.


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