Staff Finds: Growth and Development Charts

By , March 31, 2016
Infant girls anthropometric growth chart, created with data from the Harvard School of Public Health Longitudinal Studies of Child Health and Development.

Infant girls anthropometric growth chart, created with data from the Harvard School of Public Health Longitudinal Studies of Child Health and Development. From the Harvard Medical Library in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.

Processing staff in the Center for the History of Medicine recently found a variety of child growth and development charts while processing the records of the Harvard School of Public Health Longitudinal Studies of Child Health and Development (also known as the Growth Study).  Many were created using data from the Harvard Growth Study, but the collection also contains charts that were likely developed by other organizations, collected as reference in the course of research.

The Growth Study was founded in 1930 by Harold Coe Stuart in the Harvard School of Public Health Department of Maternal and Child Health, and included an initial study (birth through maturity) and multiple follow-up studies through the late 1980s.  Over 300 subjects were enrolled between 1930 and 1939, and of those 134 were followed through to maturity (18 years).  The study monitored a number of aspects of health and development; however, a major focus of the original study was the tracking of physical growth and development through anthropometric measurements, x-rays, and progressive somatotype photographs.  This data was then used to make standardized growth charts for distribution to physicians and researchers.  Subjects were primarily of North European ancestry and from the Boston area; while this allowed for a controlled study, it may have also limited the charts’ applicability to a wider population.

Stuart’s original male and female curves were distributed by Mead Johnson International, and charted weight, length, and head circumference for infants, and height and weight for children through age 12.  These charts were later translated into French for distribution in Canada, and potentially into other languages.  A letter by William M. Schmidt references a later percentile chart that was developed in the 1960s, covering birth through 18 years, although examples have not yet been found in the collection.  According to an article by de Onis and Yip, Stuart’s charts later became an international standard of reference when in 1966, the World Health Organization widely distributed a version with combined male and female data.

An earlier chart can be found in the collection that was developed in collaboration with the University of Iowa, in which Harvard data is displayed for years 0 through 5, and Iowa data is displayed for years 5 through 18.  The collection also contains: charts developed by the University of Iowa (covering years 4 through 18); Danish height and weight charts created through an unidentified study; and physical and social development charts (covering birth to 56 weeks), published by Ross Developmental Aids using data from an unidentified study.

Examples of the mentioned charts and related correspondence may be found below.

The records of the Harvard School of Public Health Longitudinal Studies of Child Health and Development are expected to be open to research in summer 2016.  Processing of the collection is part of the Bridging the Research Data Divide project, funded by a Hidden Collections grant administered by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR).  For more information on the project, please contact the project’s principal investigator, Emily R. Novak Gustainis, Deputy Director of the Center for the History of Medicine.

Erich Lindemann Papers Open to Research

By , March 26, 2014
Erich Lindemann

Erich Lindemann, circa 1960-1969, Portrait Collection, From the Harvard Medical Library in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.

The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to announce that the Erich Lindemann papers are now open to research.  Lindemann (1900-1974) was Chief of Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), Boston, Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, Medical Director of the Wellesley Human Relations Service, Massachusetts, and Distinguished Visiting Professor in Clinical and Social Psychiatry at Stanford University, Palo Alto, California.

Lindemann is known for his preventive intervention work with crisis patients and subjects of loss and bereavement.  His work with burn victims of the Cocoanut Grove fire of 1942 inspired his interest in the psychiatric and physiological effects of crisis, grief, and loss.  He later directed a study of the effects of loss and disruption on the displaced families of Boston’s West End redevelopment, the results of which later informed urban redevelopment projects across the country.  Lindemann is also recognized as a pioneer in the field of community mental health, advocating for collaboration between psychiatrists, psychologists, physicians, social workers, clergymen, teachers, and other community social service providers in the preventive therapy of crisis victims.  As a part of these efforts, he established a community mental health training program for social service providers at Massachusetts General Hospital, helped found the nation’s first community mental health agency in 1948 (the Wellesley Human Relations Service), and chaired multiple professional and national committees related to community mental health and preventive psychiatry.

The papers are the product of Lindemann’s professional, research, teaching, and publishing activities throughout the course of his career.  The bulk of the collection contains administrative, research, and teaching records generated during his tenure at Harvard Medical School, Harvard School of Public Health, the Wellesley Human Relations Service,  and Massachusetts General Hospital.  The collection also contains: personal and professional correspondence; research data and administrative records of the West End Research Project; correspondence and records related to Lindemann’s service in professional organizations and committees; his writings and publications; and collected publications related to psychiatry and mental health.  Papers also include over 350 audio and audio-visual recordings of lectures by Lindemann and his colleagues, professional conferences, patient consultations, and meetings of the Wellesley Human Relations Service and of the West End Research project.

Processing of the collection was a part of the Private Practices, Public Health: Privacy Aware Processing to Maximize Access to Health Collections project, funded by a Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, through the Council on Library Resources (CLIR).  The project is a collaborative effort between the Center and the Chesney Medical Archives at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, on behalf of the Medical Heritage Library, to open public health collections previously closed to research, and to determine best practices for providing access to collections with protected health information and other types of restricted records.

For more information on Lindemann and his collection, please view the online finding aid.

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