Thompson-Plaster X-Ray Company

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Sellers of X-ray equipment and supplies; headquarters were located in Leesburg, Va.; principals were Hugh Ashby Thompson (1861-1941) and William Emory Plaster (1887-1936).

Thompson-Plaster X-Ray Company, Inc. had its headquarters on the southeast corner of Loudoun and King Streets in downtown Leesburg, Va. The building was erected in 1900, and served as the home of H.A. Thompson and his wife Hannah. The company thrived in the twenties selling x-ray equipment and supplies to hospitals throughout the U.S. Their most popular machine was the Thompson Plaster Cabinet which proved to be a versatile piece of medical machinery. Its goal was to treat an array of diseases, such as atrophied muscles, using precisely measured electric currents- a developing medical field in the early 20th century known as electrotherapy. Thompson and Plaster founded their company at a time when electrotherapy had become a fad. While many patients put hope in the quick promises of electrotherapy for everything from muscle aches to sinuses the medically competent referred to it as "quackery," because only the slightest, if any, results were ever achieved. Often the procedure caused more pain than healing. By around 1930, the medical community and the federal government acted to prevent abuses of electrotherapy, and problems quickly dissipated. It is unclear why Thompson-Plaster X-Ray Company closed their doors some time in the 1920s. It seems likely, though further research would be needed to corroborate, that the company declined as the electrotherapy fad passed. By 1930, Plaster was working as a real estate agent in Loudoun County. Towards the end of Thompson's life, he was working in the developing field of insurance sales.

From the description of Thompson-Plaster X-Ray Company account book, 1917-1918. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 70954447

Hugh Ashby Thompson (1861-1941) married Hannah Elizabeth Norris sometime before 1886. They had two daughters: Eild T. Thompson (b. 1888), and Helen T. Thompson (1890-1961). He was a familiar face to the citizens of Leesburg, VA. His long business career began in 1888 as a cashier for the People's National Bank in Leesburg where he worked until 1906. He sat as a town councilman, and served as Mayor of Leesburg in 1896-1897 after Mayor Benjamin V. White resigned shortly after his election. Thompson was president of the Leesburg Chamber of Commerce, and was an active member of the Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1917 he founded Thompson-Plaster X-Ray Company in Leesburg with William Emory Plaster (1887-1941).

Plaster married Thompson's daughter Helen in September 1914. Their only child was William Emory Plaster Jr. (1916-2002) who was born before Plaster was drafted for the war effort in 1917. It was upon his return from the war that Plaster and his father-in-law started their x-ray company. Thompson - Plaster X-Ray Company, Inc. had its headquarters on the southeast corner of Loudoun and King Streets in downtown Leesburg, VA. The building was erected in 1900, and served as the home of H. A. Thompson and his wife Hannah. The building still stands today, now the location of Black Shutter Antiques.

The company thrived in the twenties selling x-ray equipment and supplies to hospitals throughout the United States. Their most popular machine was the Thompson Plaster Cabinet which proved to be a versatile piece of medical machinery. Its goal was to treat an array of diseases, such as atrophied muscles, using precisely measured electric currents - a developing medical field in the early 20th century known as electrotherapy.

Thompson and Plaster founded their company at a time when electrotherapy had become a fad. While many patients put hope in the quick promises of electrotherapy for everything from muscle aches to sinuses the medically competent referred to it as "quackery," because only the slightest, if any, results were ever achieved. Often the procedure caused more pain than healing. By around 1930, the medical community and the federal government acted to prevent abuses of electrotherapy, and problems quickly dissipated.

It is unclear why Thompson - Plaster X-Ray Company closed their doors some time in the twenties. It seems likely, though further research would be needed to corroborate, that the company declined as the electrotherapy fad passed. By 1930, Plaster was working as a real estate agent in Loudoun County. Towards the end of Thompson's life, he was working in the developing field of insurance sales.

From the guide to the Thompson-Plaster X-Ray Company Account Book, 1917-1918, (Thomas Balch Library)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
Place Name Admin Code Country
Subject
X-rays--Equipment and supplies
Electrotherapeutics
Occupation
Function

Corporate Body

Active 1917

Active 1918

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