Reserve an outdoor Thursday or Saturday tour of the campus and enjoy the weather while learning about the history of Tewksbury Hospital. Our guides love sharing the history and meeting you!

Some recent tour comments...

“ I had no idea this was all here and I am a Tewksbury resident!”

“Such an impressive history”

“Incredible buildings, beautiful architecture with such a story”

“Such stories of poverty, health wellness, immigration with over almost 150 years of history”


A Journey in Public Health

....from Nancy Bissell, PHN & board member

Public health nursing is in my blood. I graduated from Peter Bent Brigham Hospital School of Nursing in the early 1960s and proceeded to Syracuse University to get my Bachelors of Science in Nursing. 

While at Syracuse I gained my appreciation for nursing in the public health domain. I worked part time at the NY Upstate Medical Center and often remarked that without that Brigham experience I would not have been so well exposed to public health nursing. The difference between then and now is nursing is more dependent on technology than the personal hands on; a blessing for faster diagnosis but a curse in losing some of the instinctive, hands-on evaluation, we relied upon.

My very first job was as the Town Nurse for Groton, MA. Due to the constantly changing needs, I admit I never got bored. I have worked in Colorado, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire in town, county, and home health and hospice entities, along with 32 years of being a licensed EMT-B to aid my assessment skills and plan of care. 

I chuckle when I read some old notes and see, “PH is not political”: The Covid-19 Pandemic certainly would disprove that. However, as difficult and trying as the pandemic has been,

I have so much admiration for those who were doing their public health jobs. Contact tracing, for example, sounds new, but has always been the normal infectious disease investigation and reporting protocol in public health.

I enjoy working with the museum’s Outbreak! program to expose students to the variety of areas one can work in public health. Thanks for your support of the museum!


by David Paquette, volunteer

I am back in Massachusetts after a 42-year absence. And proudly so, as a retired public health professional, Massachusetts has so many achievements and “firsts” in public health to brag about with our visitors at the Museum. This is a history unmatched in the United States. Dr. Zabdiel Boylston’s inoculation of 3 persons against smallpox in 1721, known as “The Boston Experiment” was the first inoculation, and first public health success of the New World. And we just take off from there…

  •  The Boston Board of Health established, with Paul Revere as its president – 1799
  •  First state to collect vital statistics – 1841
  •  Massachusetts State Board of Health, now Department of Public Health, established. This  body published first manual of public health laws, required mandatory reporting of  dangerous diseases, established the nation’s first Food and Drug Laboratory and state  Public Health Microbiology Lab. – 1869
  •  First venereal disease clinic, and first dental clinic for poor, established in Boston - 1873
  •  Linda Richards the first student to enroll in the inaugural class of five nurses in the first  American Nurse Training School in Boston - 1872
  •  First School Health program – 1894
  •  The Rutland Sanitorium, the first state sanitorium for tuberculosis in the U.S. opened –  1898
  •  First State Nutritionist – 1917
  •  First public cancer hospital established – 1926

Recently, Massachusetts was the highest ranking state on digital health company Sharecare’s Community Well-being Index. Massachusetts did particularly well in the social determinants of health categories, and was ranked No.1 for health care access, No. 2 for housing and transportation, and seventh for food access. Yes, good to be back.


Long time museum supporter and advisory council member Paul Etkind reviews Footprints: In Search of Future Fossils. Etkind shares, "Farrier is a superb writer and his examination of what will likely be the fossil evidence of this early Anthropocene is one of the most unsettling and interesting books I have read. Looking at this through the prism of my biases, I say this should be added to a required reading list of everyone interested in the impact of human activities on our planet."



We continue to welcome students at the high school and college level. Book your school or group tours for the fall. We host senior centers, photography groups, and municipal public health teams for tours. Please contact to plan your visit.

The museum is open Thursdays and Saturdays at this time.

Sophomore Health Assisting technician students from Shawsheen Tech in Billerica, MA

Northeast Metro Tech dental assistant seniors from Wakefield, MA try Moxie, originally sold as a nerve tonic.

Middlesex Community College, Bedford, MA nursing students enjoyed an outdoor tour with Paul.

From volunteer David Paquette: "I was doing a tour, a married couple, and we were in the nurses classroom. He looked at the picture of the graduating class (76?78?) on the right and said "That is my sister. I never saw that before!' I told him to take a picture of it and send it to her with message that she is old enough to be in a museum (a joke). He did, sister promptly replied and a little good hearted ribbing had them both laughing out loud. We have more family ties than we ever imagined."

Did you know Boston was the first city in the country to institute school nurses?

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"America's first public health museum"
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