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Unknown, Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s short story “The Yellow Wallpaper” recounted the author’s own confinement in a Victorian bedroom. Ada Maria Mills Redpath spent months in her bedroom, according to her daughter Amy Redpath’s diaries. This image is from the first publication of the story in 1892 in The New England Magazine

In 1901 many people believed that particular environments improved personal health. Several such “healthy spaces” comprise settings for chapters of the Redpath story, including urban hospitals, sanatoria, doctor’s offices, and less obviously medical places, especially parks, gardens, and bedrooms.

Specialized rural settings, too, play a role in the Redpath tragedy. Spending time outdoors was the main idea behind the “rest cure” for tuberculosis, but was also part of everyday life for those who lived in the Square Mile. Amy Redpath likely believed her frequent walks in Mount Royal Park, designed by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead in 1877, improved her health. Why?

Today it is hard for us to imagine spending months or years in our bedrooms, but as a sickly widow, Ada Redpath did just that. Why would being alone make Ada feel better?

One of the few spaces outside her home frequented by Ada Redpath and other unwell, older women in Montreal would have been the office of a specialized physician. Images in this section show how a doctor’s office looked a century ago. How does it differ from doctor’s offices today? Why?


Diaries, Journals or Reminiscences

Journal Articles

Photographs, Paintings or Drawings