Goodwill Theatre Inc. needs your E-J Medical stories

By WBNG News

Goodwill Theatre Inc. needs your E-J Medical stories

March 17, 2014 Updated Mar 17, 2014 at 5:33 PM EDT

(WBNG Binghamton) The Goodwill Theatre has received a grant from the Documentary Heritage Program of the New York State Archives, a unit of the New York State Education Department. 

According to a news release:

The goal of this grant is to undertake a project to identify and survey undocumented historical records pertaining to the development and history of the medical program undertaken by the Endicott Johnson Corporation. 

Such historical records include materials such as plans and polices of the health benefits, medical benefit booklets, photographs, memorabilia, correspondence, nurse training information, and records pertaining to numbers served and cost of services for the company.

The Goodwill Theatre has been spearheading historical documentation in Johnson City, New York in regards to the Endicott-Johnson Corporation for 15 years. Goodwill Theatre Inc. completed a Conceptual Master Plan for a Health & Cultural District for the Village of Johnson City in March of 2013 which was adopted by the Village of Johnson City Trustees in December 2013. A goal of the Plan is to continue historical documentation for archival purposes and to use it for future interpretation.  It has been recognized that the “health” component of the Endicott-Johnson Corporation welfare capitalism story has been under-documented in regards to the health reform programs that were provided for employees and their dependents from 1910 to 1970. Particular interest in the E-J medical plan springs from the fact that Goodwill Theatre Inc. offices are housed in the former Medical Clinic at 67 Broad Street.

The Endicott-Johnson (E-J) Corporation, manufacturers of boots and shoes, influenced the development of  Binghamton, Johnson City & Endicott from the late 19th through late 20th century.  The industrial heritage of this company and the immigration that resulted from its growth impacted the state and the nation with “The Square Deal” welfare reform policies that engendered loyalty and work ethic for their employees.  Existing documentation covers the corporate paternalistic practices of this company and its leader, George F. Johnson.  This documentation  includes the life of the leader, his company and  workers, the immigrants, recreational facilities and E-J worker homes.  There is a large under-documented part of the story on health reform that is needed to accurately complete this important piece of NYS heritage.

Cradle-to-grave medical care included health care for all employees and their dependents, but if needed, a patient would be sent to a sanatorium in the Adirondacks for tuberculosis, or to New York City to see a specialist. It has been said that E-J provided this along with the bus ticket to the location and spending money. This work is critical to obtain whatever archival documents exist to accurately document and interpret the health reform story that occurred here.

Goodwill Theatre Inc. is requesting information from local residents whose families participated in E-J Health and Medical services as patients, physicians and/or nurses.  Residents who have documents, mementos, anecdotes, and/or memorabilia are encouraged to contact the Village of Johnson City Historian, Janet Ottman at 607-798-9803 extension 260 or email her at jchistory1892@gmail.com with information and/or questions. We want to know if you have records or know of someone who does.

There is also a form that can be downloaded from the Goodwill Theatre Inc. website www.goodwilltheatre.net. Residents can also call 607-772-2404 ext. 301 to request a form to be mailed to them.

Goodwill Theatre Inc. is not collecting actual artifacts but rather documenting what is available in the community. If residents would like to donate memorabilia, the Advisory committee formed for the grant award will recommend several options as repositories.