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Annual Deyerle Program Series on Local History to Highlight Medical History in the Valley

The annual Deyerle Program Series on Local History returns to MRL’s Central Library with five in-person events during this year. This popular annual lecture series features local historians, scholars and area experts who explore a broad range of subjects surrounding the history of the Shenandoah Valley. This year’s series focuses on topics related to Shenandoah Valley medical history and will take place weekly on Thursday evenings at 7PM from October 5-November 2, 2023. Advance registration is requested through MRL’s website. Topics and speakers for the 2023 Deyerle Program Series are as follows:

October 5 @ 7 PM: “Hope Reborn of War” screening of the 2016 about “The Story of a World War II military hospital, a world famous rehabilitation center, and a unique educational community in Fishersville, VA.” (now the Woodrow Wilson General Hospital, Wilson Memorial High School, WWRC, and the tech school).” Original pencil sketches by Robert Pearson Lawrence of service members recuperating at WWGH will be on display.

October 12 @ 7 PM: “The Story of Mary Rohrer” Catherine Campbell, author of "The Summer of the Lost Limb" (under the pen name Janis Good), will share the story of Mary Rohrer, a five year old Mennonite child who lost her leg in a farming accident near Dayton, VA in 1908. Learn about Mary's triumph over her circumstances and the people who assisted her, including James Hanger, the founder of the company who made Mary's artificial leg. Artifacts from Mary's life will be on display, thanks to the generous loan by Fort Harrison, in Dayton.

October 19 @ 7 PM: “Frontier Medicine” Misti Furr, lead interpreter from Frontier Culture Museum of Virginia, will present a talk on the medical history of Virginia's Colonial frontier.

October 26 @ 7 PM: “Harrisonburg’s Civil War Hospital” Bill Miller will speak about medical aspects of the Civil War in Harrisonburg, including the hospitals and the principal figures -- physicians, nurses, civilians, etc. -- connected with the hospitals. He will discuss how the presence of the hospitals influenced life in town and in Rockingham. The story of the hospitals in Harrisonburg helps us gain a clearer picture of medical care in general during the Civil War and Harrisonburg's role in the broader events of the war in the Shenandoah Valley.

November 2 @ 7 PM: “Western State Hospital” Historian Nancy Sorrells will uncover the history of Western State Hospital and its significant medical impact on the Shenandoah Valley and beyond.

Now in its 19th year at MRL, the Deyerle Program Series on Local History is made possible through the generosity of the Deyerle family, in honor of their parents, Dr. Henry P. and Mary Elizabeth Deyerle. In addition to being respected medical professionals in the local community, the Deyerles were widely known for their passion for collecting American antiques. Their interest in 18th and 19th century domestic artifacts made in the eastern United States was instrumental in raising awareness for the work of the Shenandoah Valley artisans who were active during these centuries. The Deyerles’ collection preserved and highlighted the cultural traditions and artistic achievements from the Shenandoah Valley’s past, and it is this insight into local history that the annual Deyerle Program Series seeks to foster and encourage.

All events hosted by Massanutten Regional Library, including the Deyerle Program Series on Local History, are free and open to the public, and you do not need a library card to participate.

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