Category: Collections

Arthur Hertig Papers Open to Research

By , March 10, 2017
Arthur Hertig

Arthur Hertig

The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to announce the reopening of the Arthur Tremain Hertig papers, 1922-1987. Hertig (1904-1990) was a pathologist, human embryo researcher, and professor of pathology at Harvard Medical School. Hertig collaborated with John Rock to conduct studies of early human embryos, research which enabled later advances in the birth control pill and in vitro fertilization. Hertig was also Shattuck Professor of Pathological Anatomy and Chairman of the Department of Pathology at Harvard Medical School. After stepping down as Chairman in 1968, Hertig moved to the New England Regional Primate Research Center in the Division of Pathobiology.

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Arthur Hertig

The papers are the product of Hertig’s activities as a pathologist, embryology researcher, author, and Harvard Medical School faculty member. The papers contain: Hertig’s professional correspondence and research records, including those records related to his human embryo research with John Rock; Harvard Medical School records; records from professional meetings and conferences; notes and illustrations from his time as a student at the University of Minnesota, along with photographs and other personal records.

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

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

 

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Staff Finds: Osseous Development Rate Classification Charts

By , January 30, 2017
Male osseous development table (0-18 years), by Vernette S. Vickers, Harvard School of Public Health, 1943.

Male osseous development table (0-18 years), by Vernette S. Vickers, Harvard School of Public Health, 1943. From the Harvard Medical Library in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.

While processing the records of the Harvard School of Public Health Longitudinal Studies of Child Health and Development (aka “The Growth Study”), processing staff in the Center for the History of Medicine recently found male and female osseous development charts that were developed in 1943 by Vernette S. Vickers Harding, with the Harvard School of Public Health.  The chart is used to classify children into five categories of speed of osseous development, based on the epiphyses present at each age.  It’s a cumulative chart, so a child with a higher rating can be expected to have all of the epiphyses listed in the lower categories, up to and including his or her age.

Although the source of Harding’s data is unclear, the copyright year and information in her related publications make it likely that she used Growth Study data.  Even though the Growth Study records only contain occasional x-ray films, the records do include detailed x-ray examination and measurement records that were collected during the original study (which followed subjects from birth through 18 years).  This data is maintained alongside other forms of growth and measurement data, including raw and analyzed anthropometric measurement data, and progressive photographs taken of subjects throughout their first 18 years in 6-month intervals.

Female osseous development table (0-18 years), by Vernette S. Vickers, Harvard School of Public Health, 1943.

Female osseous development table (0-18 years), by Vernette S. Vickers, Harvard School of Public Health, 1943. From the Harvard Medical Library in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.

The Harvard School of Public Health Longitudinal Studies of Child Health and Development were founded in 1930 by the Department of Maternal and Child Health, and follow-up studies continued through the 1980s.  You can find out more about the collection here.  The records 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.

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Processing of the Marie C. McCormick Papers

By , December 19, 2016
Marie C. McCormick.

Marie C. McCormick, 2000, M-AD06. From the Harvard Medical Library in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.

The Center is pleased to report that the Marie C. McCormick papers, 1970-2010, the products of McCormick’s professional, research, and publishing activities, are currently being processed as a part of the Bridging the Research Data Divide project.  McCormick is the Sumner and Esther Feldberg Professor of Maternal and Child Health in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, and Senior Associate for Academic Affairs in the Department of Neonatology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.  Her research has focused primarily on epidemiology and health services, particularly in relation to infant mortality and the outcomes of very low birth weight and otherwise high-risk neonates.  Toward these ends, she has served as a senior investigator on both the federal Healthy Start Program and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation National Perinatal Regionalization Program.  She was also the Principal Investigator of Phase IV of the Infant Health and Development Program (IHDP), the largest longitudinal multi-site randomized trials of early childhood educational intervention for low birth weight infants.  Between 2000 and 2004, she served as Chair of the Institute of Medicine’s Immunization Safety Review Committee, for which she testified twice before the United States House of Representatives on the lack of evidence linking vaccines with autism. In 1996, she also testified before the United States Senate on the National Healthy Start Initiative.  She is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including: the 2004 David Rall Medal of the National Academy of Medicine, for Exceptional Service; the 2006 Douglas K. Richardson Award of the American Pediatric Society, for Perinatal and Pediatric Healthcare Research; and the 2008 Henry Ingersoll Bowditch Award of the Massachusetts Medical Society, for Excellence in Public Health.

The papers, created through McCormick’s professional, research, and publishing activities, include research administrative records of Phases I-IV of the Infant Health and Development Program, research administrative records and data of several high risk pregnancy and very low birth weight studies, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health teaching and administrative records, writings and publications, and collected publications. They are expected to be open to research in 2017.

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.

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Elizabeth B. Connell Papers Now Open

By , December 5, 2016

The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to announce that the Elizabeth B. Connell papers, 1960-2010 (inclusive), 1970-1990 (bulk) are now open to research.

Elizabeth B. Connell was born in 1925 in Springfield, Massachusetts. She received her A.B. and M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania and 1947 and 1951 respectively. During the late 1950s, she worked in general practice in Blue Hill, Maine; Connell later said that this was when she first became acutely aware of the health issues affecting her female patients, particularly contraception and fertility. Connell and her family moved back to Philadelphia from Maine for her further medical training and, in 1960, she moved to New York City to take an obstetrics residency in gynecology.

After completing her residency, Connell received an American Cancer fellowship which allowed her to gain experience in radical cancer surgery. During the early 1960s in New York, she worked to open family planning clinics in Spanish Harlem. Connell held faculty positions at New York Medical College, Columbia University, and Emory University as well as being on the staff of the Rockefeller Foundation for five years. She was the first woman to chair a Food and Drug Administration panel in 1973.

Connell held positions on many advisory boards and committees including for Planned Parenthood, the Food and Drug Administration, the New York City Department of Health, and the Human Resources Administration. She was a member of a large number of professional organizations, including the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the American Medical Association, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the American College of Surgeons, the American Public Health Association, the American Fertility Society, the American Medical Women’s Association, the Medical Women’s International Association, the Academy of Sciences, and the Royal Society of Health.

The collection reflects Connell’s work primarily between the 1960s and the 1990s. Connell worked on multiple levels to promote open access to birth control and adequate reproductive health care for women in the United States and, to a lesser extent, internationally. Materials in the collection reflect Connell’s work with hospitals, private organizations, and government institutions on a variety of women’s health topics, primarily birth control and breast implant safety. Papers include correspondence, clippings, reprints, publications, and manuscripts, transcripts of court proceedings, and subject files on pharmaceuticals and clinical trials of intrauterine devices. The bulk of the collection is made up of subject files and reprints or publications.

Topics include birth control methods, including early testing and release of the birth control pill and development of intrauterine devices, women’s health outside of the United States, and a large amount of material reflecting Connell’s involvement in the legal activity around the safety and use of silicone breast implants. Researchers should note that Howard J. Tatum, Connell’s second husband, developed an early prototype of the intrauterine device form of contraception: the Tatum-T.

The finding aid for the Elizabeth B. Connell papers can be found here.

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

 

 

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Recent Additions to the Warren Anatomical Museum

By , November 17, 2016

2016 has been a dynamic year for building the holdings of the Warren Anatomical Museum collection. New acquisitions came in representing the legacy and contributions of multiple Harvard health science institutions, including 20th-century narratives that were not well documented by the museum’s current collections. Multiple spirometers from the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health were added to the collection. A Garceau Junior electroencephalograph, a device with technical origins at Harvard Medical School, was given to the Warren. The museum acquired a set of medical instruments formerly belonging to HMS graduate Ralph Clinton Larrabee, whose personal papers are in the Center for the History of Medicine and the Harvard University Archives. Two sampling pumps from the Six Cities Study were given to the museum. Among these wonderful additions, three new accessions to the Warren Anatomical Museum are further detailed below.

Wilgus Daguerreotype of Phineas Gage, 1850-1860. Warren Anatomical Museum in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.

Wilgus Daguerreotype of Phineas Gage, 1850-1860. Warren Anatomical Museum in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.

The skull, life cast and tamping iron of Phineas Gage are the items most associated with the current and historical Warren Anatomical Museum. Many of the visitors to the Warren Museum Exhibition Gallery in the Countway Library come to visit Phineas and the majority of the educational programs conducted in the Gallery revolve around the ever-evolving Gage narrative. Thanks to the generosity of Jack and Beverly Wilgus, the sixth plate cased daguerreotype of Phineas Gage (the Wilgus daguerreotype) has been added to the museum for the future benefit of scholars and public. The Wilguses identified the image as Phineas Gage in 2009 and their discovery led to articles in the Smithsonian Magazine and The Boston Globe. The Wilguses maintain a website on their journey with the Gage daguerreotype called “Finding Phineas.” Their kind gift has helped humanize the much-studied Gage as prior illustrations focused on his skull and life cast.

The museum was also lucky enough to purchase a Sanborn Company Viso-Cardiette that was given to Nobel Laureate Albert Schweitzer by Harvard cardiologist Paul Dudley White and used in cardiac research at Schweitzer’s hospital in

Sanborn Company Viso-Cardiette, 1960. Warren Anatomical Museum in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.

Sanborn Company Viso-Cardiette, 1960. Warren Anatomical Museum in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.

Gabon in 1960. The device was utilized in a scientific study by David Miller and Steven Spencer entitled “Survey of cardiovascular disease among Africans in the vicinity of the Albert Schweitzer hospital in 1960,” published in The American Journal of Cardiology in 1962. It struggled to perform in the climate around the hospital and had to be modified repeatedly, much of which is detailed in the Paul Dudley White papers at the Center for the History of Medicine. The research and Viso-Cardiette are also discussed in Oglesby Paul’s biography of White, Take Heart. The Life and Prescription for Living of Paul Dudley White.  As an artifact, the Viso-Cardiette touches on multiple historical narratives such as scientific interventions from the West into Africa and the collaborations between high-profile physicians and hospitals.

Pressure gauge from hyperbaric chamber, 1928. Warren Anatomical Museum in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.

Pressure gauge from hyperbaric chamber, 1928. Warren Anatomical Museum in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.

The museum was also excited to receive one of the few known items to survive from the Harvard School of Public Health’s scientific hyperbaric chamber from the School’s tenure at 55 Shattuck Street in Boston. The Warren was generously given a pressure gauge that was preserved by several scientists after the chamber was decommissioned and dismantled from what is now part of Boston Children’s Hospital. The 31-foot long chamber was designed and installed by the School’s Department of Physiology and Industrial Hygiene in 1928 in order to study the physiological effects of various pressures. Its design specifics are discussed in a 1932 paper in the Journal of Industrial Hygiene entitled “A pressure chamber for studying the physiological effects of pressures varying from six to sixty pounds per square inch absolute.” When Children’s Hospital leased the site from the School of Public Health, they adapted the chamber for therapeutic use, eventually leading to the 1965 installation of a new hyperbaric chamber at the site specifically designed for the hospital’s clinical needs. The gauge serves as an excellent tangible reminder of this work at both institutions and speaks to a trajectory of experimental legacy informing clinical practice.

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Documenting and preserving the Warren Anatomical Museum’s medical wet specimen collection

By , November 9, 2016

 

Specimens on display for Anatomy Day, 2016.

Specimens on display for Anatomy Day, 2016.

From roughly the 1840’s through the 1940’s, the Warren Anatomical Museum (WAM) collected and acquired several hundred anatomical wet tissue specimens from medical institutions and from area physicians and academics. While these specimens were originally on display within the museum, the relocation of the WAM to a smaller venue prompted the move of these specimens into storage. In April of 2015, the Museum Collections Technician, Alex Denning, began the task of cataloguing and documenting these specimens. As is the nature with any biological material, the condition of many of the specimens has deteriorated over time, despite preservation efforts. Throughout the history of collecting and saving specimens, chemical preservatives, such as ethanol (or other alcohols and ‘spirits’), formalin and formaldehyde, and various other chemical combinations, have been used to fix (render inert and stable) and preserve anatomical tissues. There is great variability in the current conditions of these specimens and they vary in subject matter from gross anatomical dissection specimens used in teaching, to pathological specimens retained for educational purposes due to their rarity.

Clavicle with sarcoma.

The task of moving over 800 specimens from museum storage to a laboratory space presented a number of logistical challenges. Due to the nature of the specimens, being housed in a variety of potentially unknown chemical preservatives, relocation of hundreds of medical specimens proves difficult and must be undertaken by special transport. Specimens were properly secured into containers and transported in specialized vehicles to make the journey to the lab. The specimens are now being processed in batches, the first of which contains 300 specimens and is nearing completion.

Processing a historic specimen involves identification, photographing, data collection, cleaning, and repackaging. Each specimen corresponds to a museum number that (hopefully) has documentation on the origins of that particular specimen. Over time, many paper labels have been lost and few specimens have their museum number etched into the glass container or on a tag within the container. This makes identification difficult and many specimens will receive temporary ID numbers until they can be identified through the process of elimination. Within the wealth of information available at WAM and the Center for the History of Medicine (CHoM), often there will be donation or loan histories, and sometimes even patient and surgery information that help to provide context for a particular specimen.

The most important and time-consuming step for each specimen is the data collection. Condition notes are collected, which note the fluid levels and coloration, any deterioration of the specimen, and stability of the container and its seal.  Photo documentation is also a vital step in this process as it records the condition and appearance of a specimen in its found state, which also serves as important data for future processing of specimens. Once documentation is complete, the exterior of the specimen container is cleaned, small cracks are sealed or stabilized, and if possible, a fluid sample is collected for future identification. The specimens are then repacked safely and returned to their storage containers.

 

Dr. A. T. Hertig, Dept. of Pathology, HMS, using specimens to teach medical students.

Dr. A. T. Hertig, Dept. of Pathology, HMS, using specimens to teach medical students.

As soon as a specimen is fully documented, all data, photographs, and archival information are entered into the WAM database. Efforts are currently underway to make this information available to researchers and the medical community in the future. The project has sought the help of a number of anatomists, pathologists, and medical historians to assess the potential of each specimen for teaching and research purposes. The goal of this project is not just to document and conserve existing specimens, but it is also the hope of the WAM to eventually open specimens up to researchers and scholars upon the project’s completion.

 

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New Acquisition: The Fredrick J. Stare Papers

By , November 8, 2016
Stare

Dr. Frederick John Stare participating in a nationwide “March of Medicine” telecast on March 11, 1953. The half-hour show, one of a series being sponsored by a drug company and the American Medical Association, stressed problems of obesity and suggestions for dieting. Courtesy of the Center for the History of Medicine (Harvard School of Public Health Dean’s Annual Report, 1953-1954).

The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to announce the acquisition of the personal and professional papers of the late Fredrick J. Stare (1910-2002). Dr. Stare was an American nutritionist regarded as one of the country’s most influential teachers of nutrition. In 1942, Stare founded the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, now the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. This was the first such nutrition program in the United States not to be associated with an agriculture school. Dr. Stare began with a staff of three, but by the time he retired in 1976 it exceeded 150 people, and the department was considered a leader in nutrition research. In 1978, Stare co-founded and served as chairman of the Board of Directors for the American Council on Science and Health, which he served on until his death in 2002.

Stare fought to improve nutrition for children in developing nations and supported the process of fluoridating public drinking water to prevent tooth decay. He defended food preservatives and chemical additives as beneficial and necessary at a time when naturalists countered that additives were detrimental. He was a firm believer in the essential goodness of the typical American diet, holding that “prudence and moderation” were the key to healthy eating. He was also an early advocate of the benefits of regularly drinking water throughout the day. He founded the journal Nutrition Reviews, and from 1945 onward wrote a syndicated newspaper column, Food and Your Health. His publications included Living Nutrition; Eat OK – Feel OK; Food for Today’s Teens; The Executive Diet; Food for Fitness after Fifty; Dear Dr Stare: What Shall I Eat?; and Panic in the Pantry.

At the height of McCarthyism, Stare won notoriety for hiring Bernard Lown, a cardiologist who had been accused of holding communist sympathies. Lown went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 1985 as one of the leaders of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), a non-partisan federation of national medical groups in 64 countries who share the common goal of creating a more peaceful and secure world freed from the threat of nuclear annihilation. In addition to Dr. Stare’s records, the papers of Bernard Lown as well as the records of the IPPNW are available for research at the Center for the History of Medicine.

For more about Dr. Stare, please read this memorial written by the Harvard Crimson immediately following Dr. Stare’s death in 2002, or his obituaries in the New York Times and the Economist.

His collection, which is not yet available for research, includes correspondence, alpha files, university administrative records, grey literature and publications, photographs, and films. For more information about the collection, contact Public Services at chm@hms.harvard.edu.

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New Manuscript Acquisition Highlights

By , October 27, 2016

Recent additions to our manuscript holdings span topics from mucosal immunology to gun violence as a public health hazard, and represent only a portion of new materials acquired so far in 2016. Three of the collections highlighted here are accompanied by objects simultaneously acquired by the Curator of the Warren Anatomical Museum. To learn more about individual collections, or to request access, click through to view the full library catalog record.

  • Marian R. Neutra papers, 1975-2016 (bulk). Marian R. Neutra, Ph.D. is the Ellen and Melvin Gordon Distinguished Professor of Pediatrics Emeritus at Boston Children’s Hospital. Neutra taught Histology and Cell Biology at Harvard Medical School (HMS) from 1974 to 2004. She was founding associate director of the Harvard Digestive Diseases Center (HDDC) from 1984 to 1998, and director of HDDC from 1998 to 2005. At HMS, Neutra served as the first Master of the Castle Society and chaired the curriculum committee from 1992 to 1998. She also held positions on scientific advisory committees for organizations including the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) AIDS Research Advisory Committee, and the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative. Neutra was the second woman to be promoted to Full Professor at Boston Children’s Hospital. The collection consists of records reflecting Neutra’s laboratory research, teaching, and professional activities related to epithelial cell biology and mucosal immunology, including many original drawings and photographic prints and negatives taken utilizing electron microscopy.
  • Mark L. Rosenberg papers, 1970s-2016 (bulk). Mark Rosenberg, M.D., M.P.P. was president and CEO of the Task Force for Global Health from 1999 until his retirement in April 2016. Prior to his work at the Task Force, Rosenberg worked at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia, where he served as the first director of the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC). As director of NCIPC, he oversaw gun violence research until the 1996 enactment of the Dickey Amendment by the United States Congress prohibited the continued use of federal funds to promote gun control. The collection consists of records related to Rosenberg’s research on gun violence as a public health hazard; records reflecting initiatives undertaken by the Task Force and partnering global health organizations; and original photographic images (prints and negatives) and audio interviews conducted by Rosenberg for his 1980 publication Patients: the Experience of Illness.
  • Paul Goldhaber papers, 1950-2004 (bulk). Paul Goldhaber, D.D.S. was Dean of the Harvard School of Dental Medicine from 1968 to 1990 when he retired as Dean Emeritus. Goldhaber’s research in bone biology and bone growth laid the groundwork for later advancements in dental implants. A new accrual to the Paul Goldhaber papers was transferred to the Center for the History of Medicine from the Harvard School of Dental Medicine over the summer. This addition relates almost entirely to Goldhaber’s laboratory research and consists mainly of lab notebooks maintained by Goldhaber chronologically from the late 1950s to the 1990s. A sample of pathological specimens related to the experiments recorded in the notebooks were acquired by the Warren Anatomical Museum.
  • Nancy E. Oriol papers, 1989-2001 (bulk). Nancy E. Oriol, M.D. recently stepped down as Dean for Students at Harvard Medical School, a position she held from 1998 to 2016. Oriol was founding director of The Family Van, and is an obstetric anesthesiologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, where she pioneered  the Walking Epidural and developed a prototype for the Neo-Vac meconium suction catheter. The collection consists of project records related to the founding of The Family Van and the development of the Walking Epidural and the Neo-Vac in the 1980s, as well as records related to course development and curriculum building at Harvard Medical School from the 1990s to 2016. A prototype and early market product for the Neo-Vac were acquired by the Warren Anatomical Museum.
  • Sven Paulin papers, 1955-2014 (inclusive). Sven Paulin, M.D. was Radiologist-in-Chief at Beth Israel Hospital (now Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center) from 1970 to 1994 and the first Miriam H. Stoneman Professor of Radiology at Harvard Medical School from 1983 to 1993 (Emeritus, 1994 to 2014). Paulin contributed to the development of cardiothoracic imaging technologies in the second half of the twentieth century, particularly through his development of techniques for performing coronary angiography, which he laid out in his 1964 doctoral thesis, “Coronary angiography: a technical, anatomic and clinical study.” The Sven Paulin collection was established in 2014, with 5 cubic feet of additional correspondence, photographs, and writings acquired in 2016. The collection includes Paulin’s personal and professional correspondence; films, slides, and x-rays used in teaching; writings and lectures; grants files; annotated reprints; and photographs. Several objects were acquired by the Warren Anatomical Museum, including catheter molds used by Paulin and pictured in his 1964 thesis publication.

New acquisitions are cataloged in Hollis+ (the Harvard Library catalog) to enable discovery, but until collections are fully processed they may only be accessed by researchers via consultation with Public Services.

Collections are processed by Center staff when resources become available. Visit our website to learn how you can support processing of Center collections.

In addition to individual contributions, collection processing is supported by grant-funded initiatives. To learn about current and past funded projects at the Center for the History of Medicine, see blog posts related to: Access to Activism; Bridging the Research Data DivideFoundations of Public Health Policy; and Maximizing Microbiology.

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Capturing the History of Sustainability at the Harvard Chan School

By , August 15, 2016

President of the Clinton Foundation and 2016 Harvard Chan Commencement speaker Donna Shalala poses with EcoOpportunity members David Havelick (left) and Adam Meier (right). The 2016 Commencement ceremony aimed for “zero waste” with the support of EcoOpportunity volunteers.

Archiving the history of grassroots initiatives, whether at Harvard or elsewhere, is often problematic. Often records are scattered, in addition to the early leadership itself, by the time a group is recognized for its contributions. As a result, records representing the work of grassroots initiatives are generally under-represented in archival collections. The history of grassroots work surrounding sustainability at Harvard is often of great interest to researchers, making it an important acquisition target. Sustainability can be defined as identifying and prioritizing resource conservation opportunities, and reducing environmental and health impacts.

In February 2016, Heather Mumford, Archivist for the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, began to explore archiving the history of sustainability initiatives at the Harvard Chan School. Specifically, Heather targeted EcoOpportunity, a Harvard Chan School group which evolved from humble beginnings to eventually form a successful Longwood-wide sustainability team.

Heather proactively reached out to current volunteers and leadership. Working together, they compiled a number of records (including email, early documentation, and photographs) and authored a history of the organization. When gaps were identified, current volunteers reached out to former volunteers and asked for assistance. The result is a collection of records that offer a comprehensive history, insuring that the contributions of these early sustainability efforts at Harvard will not be lost to time.

September 2014 2

EcoOpportunity volunteers in 2014.

 

History of EcoOpportunity

EcoOpportunity is indeed a unique group at Harvard. It was formed in 2008 as part of a larger initiative from the President’s Office, after an email was sent encouraging departmental administrators across Harvard to create “Green Teams” at their schools. This was known as the “Green Campus Initiative”, and has since become the Harvard Office for Sustainability, which is part of Campus Services. Early meetings of these school “Green Teams” included brainstorming sessions on sustainability topics, speakers, and events.

After their first few meetings, the Harvard Chan School’s green team decided they wanted an official “team name”, even though no other green team at Harvard had chosen to do this. There was a small internal contest, and “EcoOpportunity” (EcoOp) was chosen as the favorite. Volunteer Tiffany Colt (Operations Office), who had a background in design, created their logo.

Although interest was strong at first, eventually the effectiveness of these early EcoOp meetings dwindled. It was then that David Havelick and Jen Bowser, two Green Team volunteers, held an emergency one-on-one meeting. They decided to take on a leadership role together, form their own agendas (instead of relying on agendas sent by the Office for Sustainability), and to create subcommittees that tackled specific green initiatives. This restructuring allowed work to get done outside of each meeting, and created a sustainable model that allowed EcoOp to persist beyond the original Harvard University-wide experiment.

EcoOpportunity is one of the few green teams at Harvard that receives funding directly from a school, in addition to managerial support from Harvard Chan School Operations. Although initially a Harvard Chan School group, the team held their first joint meeting with Harvard Medical School volunteers in February 2014. The group’s mission is to inspire the Longwood Community to reduce environmental and health impacts, and help Harvard become a leader in campus sustainability efforts.

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