A Brief History of Women at the Harvard Chan School

By , October 12, 2017

At “From Riding Breeches to Harvard: Stories of the First Female Harvard Chan School Graduate, Archives for Women in Medicine Project Archivist Joan Ilacqua presented a brief history of women at the Harvard Chan School.

Linda Frances James, 1919

Linda Frances James, 1919

It is now recognized that the Harvard Chan School, then the Harvard-MIT School of Public Health, was the first school at Harvard to credential women on the same basis as men. Graduates earned a certificate in public health at this early school from 1913 until 1922 (when it was renamed the Harvard School of Public Health).  Linda James, a member of the first class, was the first woman to earn this certificate in 1917. James was born in Minnesota in 1891 and earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota in 1914. She enrolled as a student at the Harvard-M.I.T. School for Health Officers, and earned her certificate of Public Health in 1917. She then took a position as the Director of After-Care Division at the Harvard Infantile Paralysis Commission. To learn more about Linda James, read “Lost and Found: The First Woman with a Harvard Credential.

 

Alice Hamilton, 1919

Alice Hamilton, 1919

The Harvard-MIT School of Public Health boasts the first woman appointed to a faculty position at any Harvard school. Alice Hamilton was hired as assistant professor and created the Department of Industrial Medicine in 1919. Her appointment was in the faculty of medicine, but her responsibilities were in the Harvard-MIT School of Public Health. Although Dr. Hamilton was Harvard’s first woman professor, she was denied three professorial privileges: she could not participate in Commencement; she could not join the Harvard Club; and she was not given complimentary football tickets. Dr. Hamilton retired in 1935.

The Harvard Chan School also has the honor of being the first school on the Longwood campus to grant degrees to women students. Ann Hogue Stewart and Hester Balch Curtis were both awarded the Master of Public Health in 1936 during Harvard University’s 300th Anniversary. Although it was thought that the Harvard Corporation would bestow degrees upon women in 1936, in actuality, pressure from an influential pediatrician, Martha May Eliot, was why the women were awarded their degrees. Over twenty years later, in 1957, Dr. Eliot became the first woman full professor at the Harvard Chan School and the Chair of the Department of Child and Maternal Health.

Martha May Eliot

Martha May Eliot

Dr. Eliot, whose collection resides at the Scheslinger Library, was a pioneer in maternal and children’s health, the first woman president of the American Public Health Association, the only woman to sign the founding document of the World Health Organization, and the Chief of the U.S. Children’s Bureau. She taught at the Harvard Chan School until her retirement in 1960.

Women were allowed to attend the Harvard Chan School for degrees after Harvard Medical School opened itself to coeducation in 1945. Since 1994, women have consistently made up approximately 60% of the student body at the Harvard Chan School.


To learn more about the Archives for Women in Medicine program, visit https://countway.harvard.edu/awm or contact Project Archivist Joan Ilacqua at Joan_Ilacqua@hms.harvard.edu.

To learn more about the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health archives, visit https://www.countway.harvard.edu/chom/harvard-th-chan-school-public-health-archives or contact Archivist Heather Mumford at Heather_Mumford@hms.harvard.edu.

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From Riding Breeches to Harvard: Stories of the First Female Harvard Chan School Graduate

By , September 27, 2017
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Bernice Ende, lady long rider and great-nice of Linda James Benitt, the first woman to graduate from the Harvard Chan School (then known as the Harvard-MIT School for Health Officers) shared photographs of Linda’s parents, as well as anecdotes on her early life.

The Center for the History of Medicine was delighted to host the event, “From Riding Breeches to Harvard” on Wednesday, September 20th at the Countway Library. Bernice Ende, great niece of Linda James Benitt, who was the first woman to graduate from the Harvard T.H. Chan School (then the Harvard-MIT School for Health Officers), presented findings, photos, documents, and stories from her research on, and relationship with, her “Aunt Linda.” Ende, a lady long rider for over thirteen years, has credited both her mother and her aunt for inspiring her life-long desire to encourage female leadership through long riding.  Dr. Joe Brain, Cecil K. and Philip Drinker Professor of Environmental Physiology, Department of Environmental Health, and Chair of the Harvard Chan School Archives Advisory Committee, welcomed the intimate crowd and shared his experiences working with the committee and the Harvard Chan School Archivist, Heather Mumford, in uncovering the early history of the school.

Heather Mumford, Archivist for the Harvard Chan School, presented on her 2013 "discovery" of Linda James, the first woman to graduate from the Harvard-MIT School for Health Officers.

Heather Mumford, Archivist for the Harvard Chan School, presented on her 2013 “discovery” of Linda James Benitt, the first woman to graduate from the Harvard-MIT School for Health Officers (precursor to the Harvard Chan School).

Prior to Ende’s presentation, Joan Ilacqua, Project Archivist for the Archives for Women in Medicine, provided background information on the first women on the Harvard Longwood campus, with a nod to Linda James Benitt’s being the first woman to be credentialed on the same basis as men in 1917 by the Harvard-MIT School for Health Officers.

Following Ilacqua’s presentation, Mumford spoke on her discovery of Linda James Benitt in 2013 during the school’s centennial. The results of her early research, primarily conducted through the Minnesota Historical Society, resulted in a two-part blog series, available here. Ultimately these blog posts were what connected Mumford and Ende, and sparked their correspondence over the next three years.

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The James family, circa 1920. Photograph courtesy of Bernice Ende.

During her presentation at the Countway, Ende shared family photographs, letters, clippings, and anecdotes which helped paint a more well-rounded perspective of Linda James Benitt, and followed her throughout her life at Harvard and beyond. Common threads, such as a love of horses, a dedication to fighting for women’s rights and highlighting the accomplishments of women, as well as cultivating opportunities for adventure, were also discovered for the first time during the course of her research, and have led Ende to a much deeper appreciation for her great aunt. Ende has written a book on these topics, which is anticipated to be released in 2018. As a very special treat, Bernice Ende’s older sister brought and displayed family photos and artifacts for the audience to enjoy.

For more information on Ende, visit her website: www.endeofthetrail.com

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Announcing the 2017-2018 Women in Medicine Legacy Foundation Fellows

By , September 11, 2017
Maria Dazenbichler

Maria Daxenbichler

Maria Daxenbichler is a PhD candidate in the Department of History at the University at Buffalo. She holds a Magistra Artium degree in American Studies from Leipzig University, Germany, and a M.A. in American Studies from the Transnational Studies department at the University at Buffalo. Her dissertation investigates how medical researchers in the U.S. changed the field of gynecology between the 1880s and 1920s. Through developing new and allegedly safe abortion techniques, they strengthened their authority over women’s health, reproduction, and medical treatments. They then shared their new knowledge with medical and nursing students in teaching hospitals, thus helping to further professionalize the medical field and establish the authority of formally trained practitioners. She also received a research fellowship from the University of Illinois at Chicago for this project.

Ms. Daxenbichler plans to utilize the Records of New England Hospital for Women and Children, Records of Boston Lying-In Hospital, Peter Bent Brigham Hospital Records, George Richard Minot Papers, Edward Peirson Richardson Papers, and the Papers of James Read Chadwick.

 

Jordan Katz

Jordan Katz

Jordan Katz is an advanced doctoral student in the Department of History at Columbia University. She specializes in early modern Jewish history, with interests in Jewish cultural history, history of science, and Jewish communal autonomy. Her dissertation examines the role of Jewish midwives and medical women within communal and intellectual frameworks in the early modern Ashkenazic world. She is also interested in culinary history and historical reconstruction.

Ms. Katz has received fellowships from the Center for Jewish History and the Leo Baeck Fellowship Programme – Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes. Her work has been published in Jewish Quarterly Review.

At the Center, Ms. Katz will consult several 16th and 17th century midwifery treatises including Samuel Janson’s 1680 Korte en Bondige verhandeling, van de voort-teeling en t’ kinderbaren met den aenklave van dien.

We look forward to hosting both fellows at the Center this year!

 


The Women in Medicine Legacy Foundation Fellowship is offered in partnership with the Women in Medicine Legacy Foundation (formerly the Foundation for the History of Women in Medicine). Information regarding the Fellowship program is available at http://www.wimlf.org/fellowships and https://www.countway.harvard.edu/chom/archives-women-medicine-fellowships.

A program of the Center for the History of Medicine at the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine, the Archives for Women in Medicine actively acquires, preserves, promotes, and provides access to the professional and personal records of outstanding women leaders in medicine and the medical sciences.

 

The Women in Medicine Legacy Foundation, formerly the Foundation for the History of Women in Medicine, was founded with the strong belief that understanding our history plays a powerful role in shaping our future. The resolute stand women took to establish their place in these fields propels our vision forward. We serve as stewards to the stories from the past, and take pride in sharing them with the women of today. Our mission is to preserve and promote the history of women in medicine and the medical sciences, and we look forward to connecting you to our collective legacy that will empower our future.

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Oct. 17, 2017: 42nd Annual Joseph Garland Lecture “Measuring Value in Healthcare”

By , August 25, 2017

The Boston Medical Library presents:

Measuring Value in Healthcare

42nd Annual Garland Lecture

Peter J. Neumann, Sc.D.: Director of the Center for the Evaluation of Value and Risk in Health, Institute for Clinical Research and Health Policy Studies, Tufts Medical Center & Professor of Medicine, Tufts University School of Medicine

 

Join us for Dr. Peter J. Neumann’s talk on the promises and pitfalls of using formal cost-effectiveness analysis to help the United States achieve better value for its health spending. Dr. Neumann, founder and director of the Cost-Effectiveness Registry, focuses his investigations on the use of comparative effectiveness research and cost-effectiveness analysis in health care decision making.

 

shutterstock_129463487Tuesday, October 17, 2017

5:30 PM

Amphitheater, Armenise Building
Harvard Medical School
210 Longwood Avenue, Boston MA 02115


To register, please contact the Boston Medical Library at BostonMedLibr@gmail.com or 617-432-5169.

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Oct. 19, 2017: Going Crazy at Work: The History of Carbon Disulfide

By , August 25, 2017

Department of Postgraduate and Continuing Education, McLean Hospital and the Center for the History of Medicine, Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine, present:

Colloquium on the History of Psychiatry and Medicine

“Going Crazy at Work: The History of Carbon Disulfide”

Paul Blanc, M.D: Professor of Medicine, University of California at San Francisco

 

The second in a series of four lectures given as the 2017 Colloquium on the History of Psychiatry and Medicine. The Colloquium offers an opportunity to clinicians, researchers, and historians interested in a historical perspective on their fields to discuss informally historical studies in progress.

carbon-disulfide-3d-balls

Thursday, October 19, 2017
4:00-5:30 PM

Lahey Room, fifth floor
Countway Library of Medicine
Harvard Medical School
10 Shattuck Street, Boston MA 02115

Free and open to the public.

For further information contact David G. Satin, M.D., Colloquium Director, phone/fax 617-332-0032, e-mail david_satin@hms.harvard.edu

 

 

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Nutshell Studies Loaned to Renwick Gallery for Exhibition

By , October 13, 2017
Frances Glessner Lee and Alan R. Moritz working with furnishings for the Nutshell Studies, 1948. Records of the Department of Legal Medicine, Harvard Medical Library

Frances Glessner Lee and Alan R. Moritz working with furnishings for the Nutshell Studies, 1948. Records of the Department of Legal Medicine, Harvard Medical Library

In 1946, Frances Glessner Lee donated the first ten models of what have become known as the Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death to Harvard Medical School’s Department of Legal Medicine. She followed that gift with seven more models in 1948, eventually giving a total of eighteen Nutshells to the Medical School. The Nutshells, intricate dioramas depicting mysterious homicides, suicides, and natural deaths, were built by Lee to serve as teaching tools for the Harvard Associates in Police Science seminars that she hosted each year. In 1967, the Department of Legal Medicine closed, and Harvard loaned the Nutshell Studies to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of Baltimore, Maryland, where Department of Legal Medicine alumnus Russell Fisher was the medical examiner. Fisher moved the Harvard Associates in Police Science seminars to Baltimore and kept the teaching mission of the Nutshells alive.

For the first time since being loaned to Baltimore, the eighteen Harvard Nutshells will be on display for the public. They are being hosted by the Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery for their exhibition Murder is Her Hobby. In addition to the Harvard Nutshells, the exhibition will also display a nineteenth Glessner Lee Nutshell from the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, courtesy of the Bethlehem Heritage Society. The exhibition will run from October 20, 2017 to January 28, 2018. More information regarding Murder is Her Hobby can be found on the Renwick Gallery website, in the Washington Post, and in HMS news.

More information about the Department for Legal Medicine can be found in Corpus Delicti: The Doctor as the Detective, a physical and digital exhibit curated by Center for the History of Medicine Public Service Librarian Jack Eckert.

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Sanitary surveys conducted by students, 1920-1948, now open for research

By , October 12, 2017
The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to announce the opening of the Harvard Medical School Department of Preventive Medicine and Hygiene Sanitary Surveys, 1920-1948 (inclusive).
The collection consists of sanitary surveys of various towns, cities, and counties throughout the United States from 1920-1948. Surveys were conducted by students to fulfill requirements of the third year class in Preventative Medicine and Hygiene at Harvard Medical School. Upon choosing a town or city, students collected a wide range of public health data and offered their criticisms and recommendations for improving public health in that town. As such, each report serves as a robust historical snapshot of life in the community at the time the survey was conducted. The goal of the assignment was to expose students to public health work in the field and to broaden their horizons beyond their chosen specialties.
Surveys usually include sections on: general information on the town; water shed, pollution, collection, storage, and purification; sewage disposal, purification, treatment, efficiency, and relation to health; garbage and refuse collection and disposal; milk production, pasteurization, and certification, including a student evaluation of sanitary conditions at one dairy using local score cards; vital statistics such as birth and death rates, infant mortality, rates for infection diseases, and including forms for births, deaths, marriages, and disease notifications; sanitary nuisances such as odors, pests, cleanliness, dumps, piggeries, and noise; industrial hygiene based upon a visit to a factory or workshop in the area; housing, including sanitary condition of a tenement and ventilation analysis of a large building; infectious diseases such as venereal diseases and tuberculosis, including information on quarantine regulations; school health and dental programs; additional information relevant to public health such as markets, slaughter houses and meat inspection, barber shops, nursing services, education information, charitable organizations of importance to public health, and any other activities of the local Board of Health. In addition to the written report, each survey has a variety of additions including but not limited to photographs, printed and hand-drawn graphs, pamphlets, quarantine signs, blank charts and forms, blueprints, and maps.

The finding aid for the Sanitary Surveys can be found here.

For information regarding access to this collection, please contact the Public Services staff.

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Staff Finds: Augustus White on Race in America

By , October 12, 2017
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Augustus A. White

In 1969, Augustus A. White was studying for his Ph.D. at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden. At this time, Sweden was a vocal opponent of the American war in Vietnam (White served in Vietnam, 1966-1967). According to his memoir, Seeing Patients, while in Sweden White began to read about the black experience and hosted Bobby Seale, co-founder of the Black Panther Party, at his apartment, when Seale was there to do public appearances. It was during this time that White wrote a letter to President-Elect Richard Nixon, describing his views on the state of race relations in America:

Let us pause to reflect with empathy on the millions of de-humanized fathers, mothers, and brothers — poor oppressed and without hope (that so very essential element for human motivation). Now there is of course considerable “tokenism” – a black face on a TV-commerical, a few conspicuous jobs and positions. But the reality of the situation is that the black man in the ghetto is still almost completely without potential or opportunity for upward mobility. He knows it too well, he lives the facts of oppression all his waking hours. He does not have work. He cannot get work. He sees no hope of getting work. He has just about reached the bottom. Many have reached the bottom. When a man reaches the bottom then no matter what he does, he can go no way but up. (That is why the small scrawny undernourished under-equipped Viet Cong fight with such vigor and resolve.) During the black man’s oppressed existence he is chronically, and acutely aware of the luxury and comforts of his “fellow Americans”. Does this not constitute a rather explosive potential?

Later, White describes the role medicine can play in helping to ease the troubles:

Medical care should be provided through good clinics especially for child guidance and health. Sincere concern and conscientious medical care programs are a marvelous entreé for establishing communications with an alienated people. This could be financed and operated by the government in conjunction with post-graduate medical training centers many of which are already in the ghetto.

Full text of the letter can be seen below.

The Center for the History of Medicine holds the Augustus A. White papers, 1951-2010 (inclusive), which are open to research. The finding aid for the White papers can be found here.

For information regarding access to this collection, please contact the Public Services staff.

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Staff Finds: Fish Odor Control in Gloucester

By , October 3, 2017
Leslie Silverman

Leslie Silverman

While processing the Leslie Silverman papers, Center staff came across records related to an effort to control fish odor in processing plants in Gloucester, MA. Silverman was retained as a consultant by the Gloucester Community Pier Association to inspect fish processing facilities and provide recommendations for odor abatement. The issue arose initially by way of complaints from local residents and grew to encompass health concerns regarding effluent. While using chemical analysis to determine the contaminants being released by the processing, Silverman also attempted to correlate the time and location of complaints with the wind direction and the operating times of the processing plants. Initial recommendations were made in 1952, but non-compliance issues necessitated Silverman’s involvement over the next several years. The records contain Silverman’s notes and reports on his analysis, correspondence with government, plant managers, and private citizens, and lists of complaints received by local authorities. Also included is his research on similar problems in other locations. Selected records from Silverman’s work in Gloucester can be seen below.

Leslie Silverman (1914-1966) was Professor of Engineering in Environmental Hygiene and Head of the Department of Industrial Hygiene at Harvard School of Public Health. He also worked as a consulting engineer on issues regarding air pollution control, industrial hygiene, and industrial ventilation. The Center holds the Leslie Silverman papers, 1920-1967, which are the product of his activities as a consultant, researcher, and Harvard School of Public Health faculty member.

For information regarding access to this collection, please contact the Public Services staff.

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Augustus White Papers Open To Research

By , October 3, 2017
Augustus A. White

Augustus A. White

The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to announce the opening of the Augustus A. White papers, 1951-2010 (inclusive). White is the Ellen and Melvin Gordon Distinguished Professor of Medical Education and Professor of Orthopedic Surgery at Harvard Medical School and a former Orthopaedic Surgeon-in-Chief at Beth Israel Hospital. White was the first African American medical student at Stanford University, surgical resident at Yale University, professor of medicine at Yale, and department head at a Harvard-affiliated hospital (Beth Israel Hospital). From 1966 to 1968, he served as Captain in the United States Army Medical Corps, serving as a combat surgeon at the 85th Evacuation Hospital in Qui Nhon, Vietnam from 1966 to 1967. Since retiring from surgery in 2001, White has researched and written about issues of diversity and cultural sensitivity in medicine.

The papers are the product of White’s activities as an orthopedic surgeon, Harvard Medical School faculty member, and author and researcher. The papers contain records from White’s work at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, the University of Maryland at Baltimore, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, and Brown University. Also included is White’s professional correspondence, his medical writings, reminisces of his service in Vietnam, and records of his speeches and lectures. The collection also contains records from his outside legal consultations and clippings, photographs and other personal and biographical records.

The finding aid for the White papers can be found here.

For information regarding access to this collection, please contact the Public Services staff.

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Staff Finds: Augustus White in Vietnam

By , September 19, 2017
Augustus A. White

Augustus A. White

From 1966 to 1968, Augustus A. White served as a Captain in the United States Army Medical Corps and from August 1966 to August 1967, he was deployed as a combat surgeon at the 85th Evacuation Hospital in Qui Nhon, Vietnam. During his deployment, he volunteered during his off-duty time at the St. Francis Leprosarium, earning a Bronze Star for this work, as well as for a volunteer mission to help retrieve an injured soldier from a mountainside. Subject to a special physicians’ draft, White could have chosen service in the the National Guard, Navy Reserve, or Public Health Service, but instead chose active duty service, as he describes in Seeing Patients:

Here I was, fully trained, after so many years. I couldn’t wait to get out on my own and be what I had worked so hard to be. And where in the world could I do that instantaneously at the highest volume in the most needed place other than Vietnam? Besides, I thought, I’m not going over to kill people; I’m going over to save them. And besides that, how about what I owed? I had grown up during World War II … Our soldiers had protected me then. Shouldn’t I be giving something back?

While in Vietnam and caring for badly injured soldiers, White struggled with feelings of helplessness. Again, from Seeing Patients:

Finding a way to deal with all this emotionally was crucial. If you allowed yourself to get dragged into thinking too much, you’d simply be crushed to pieces. I mulled over the idea of sending a letter and photos to Lyndon Johnson. I composed the letter in my head a dozen times, thinking about what words might have the most dramatic effect. I tried to figure out how I might actually get it to him so he would read it. I imagined getting him and other world leaders down into a MASH unit operating room before they’d be allowed to start their wars. Grab them by the collar and force them to watch a terrified young man writhing in pain with his legs mangled or his belly ripped up. But of course that was just escapist fantasy. The reality was that there wasn’t the slightest thing I could do to stop what was going on.

The Augustus A. White papers, 1951-2010 (inclusive), contain records related to White’s service in Vietnam. This includes typed and annotated excerpts from White’s diary kept during his Vietnam service, detailing his day-to-day thoughts and activities, including his work at the leprosarium (see below for diary excerpts and a letters from his commanding officer John Feagin). The collection also contains copies of his articles “Vietnam Memoirs: River of Blood” and “Notes and Impressions at Vietnam Memorial”, drafts of a manuscript about his experiences in Vietnam, and an after action report (see below for excerpts) detailing the air transfer of a badly wounded soldier from Vietnam to Walter Reed Hospital, Washington D.C.

The finding aid for the White papers can be found here.

For information regarding access to this collection, please contact the Public Services staff.

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