Category: Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

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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Sept. 20, 2017: From Riding Breeches to Harvard

By , August 2, 2017

The Center for the History of Medicine Presents:

From Riding Breeches to Harvard

Presentation in honor of Linda James Benitt given by Lady Long Rider, Bernice Ende, Great-Niece of Linda James.

 

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Join us for an evening discussion on the life and career of Linda Francis James Benitt, the first female graduate of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The presentation will begin by briefly exploring the context of women at Harvard at the turn of century, as well as Linda James’ life in Boston as a young student. Next, Bernice Ende, Linda’s great-niece, will share her personal insights on Linda’s life, as well how she inspired her toward ultimately becoming a “lady long rider”.

Linda Frances James (pictured above in 1915) was the first woman to graduate from the Harvard-M.I.T. School for Health Officers (predecessor of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health), receiving her C.P.H. in 1917. As a young public health professional in Boston, Linda worked as a Medical Social Worker at Massachusetts General Hospital, and as the Director of the After-Care Division at the Harvard Infantile Paralysis Commission. Her professional life shifted in 1922 when she married William A. Benitt, a young attorney from Goodhue, Minnesota. The couple decided to leave their careers and become farmers on Apple Acres—a 200-acre farm in South Washington County, Minnesota. In addition to life on the farm, James remained an active advocate for education, public health, and community. A two-part blog series on Linda is available here.

Bernice Ende was raised on a Minnesota dairy farm where riding was always an integral part of her life. After pursuing a career teaching classical ballet on the west coast, Ende moved to Trego, Montana, a remote part of North West Montana where she continued teaching ballet. Her retirement in 2003 brought not a lack of activity, but rather a change in focus. Drawn back to riding, Bernice felt the pull of the open road and adventure inherent in serious riding. Her first ride in 2005 has continued into the present. Now thirteen years later, having acquired nearly 30,000 equestrian miles, she inspires and encourages female leadership with her travels. For more information on Ende, visit her website: www.endeofthetrail.com

 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017
3:30pm

Light refreshments will be served.

Minot Room, 5th Floor
Countway Library
Harvard Medical School
10 Shattuck Street, Boston MA 02115

Free and open to the public.

Registration is required. Register online now through Eventbrite or email us at ContactChom@hms.harvard.edu.

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Marie C. McCormick Papers Open to Research

By , June 29, 2017
Marie C. McCormick.

Marie C. McCormick.

The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to announce that the papers of Marie C. McCormick, 1956-2016 (inclusive), 1968-2009 (bulk), are now open to research. McCormick is the Sumner and Esther Feldberg Professor of Maternal and Child Health in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, 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, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Her research has primarily focused on epidemiology and health services, particularly in relation to infant mortality and the outcomes of high-risk and very low birth weight neonates.

She served on all four phases of the Infant Health and Development Program (IHDP), the largest longitudinal multisite randomized trials of early childhood educational intervention for low birth weight and high-risk infants, and was the Principal Investigator of Phase IV of the program. She was also a senior investigator on both the federal Healthy Start Program and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation National Perinatal Regionalization Program. She served as Chair of the Institute of Medicine’s (now National Academy of Medicine) Committee on the Health Effects of Marijuana, and its Immunization Safety Review Committee, for which she testified twice before the U.S. House of Representatives on the lack of evidence linking vaccinations with autism (2001 and 2004). In 1996, she also testified before the U.S. Senate on the National Healthy Start Initiative. She has published 12 books and monographs, as well as over 280 scientific papers, reviews, editorials, reports, and abstracts.

The papers include research, teaching, administrative, and publishing records, generated by McCormick over the course of her career, such as:

  • Infant Health and Development Program (Phases I-IV) administrative records;
  • Evaluation of Regionalized Networks for High Risk Pregnancy Care study administrative records;
  • Long Term Outcomes of Very Low Birthweight Infants study administrative records;
  • Occasional research data from the previous three studies;
  • Teaching records for courses related to maternal and child health, taught by McCormick at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health;
  • Grant records for graduate training grants related to maternal and child health; and
  • Writings and publications related to maternal and child health, epidemiology, regionalization of care, and other topics in public health.

The collection was processed as part of the Bridging the Research Data Divide project, funded by a Hidden Collections grant administered by the Council on Library and Information Resources. 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.

For more information on McCormick’s collection, please view the online finding aid: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HMS.Count:med00244.

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Harvard Prevention Research Center and Steven L. Gortmaker Collections Open to Research

By , June 29, 2017
Fitness Folder, from the Harvard Prevention Research Center's Planet Health Curriculum.

Fitness Folder, from the Harvard Prevention Research Center’s Planet Health Curriculum. P-DT08.01, Series 00598. From the Harvard Medical Library in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.

The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to announce the opening of two collections: the records of the Harvard Prevention Research Center (HPRC) and the papers of the HPRC’s Director, Steven L. Gortmaker.

The Harvard Prevention Research Center on Nutrition and Physical Activity was founded in 1998 at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, to work with community and governmental organizations in the research, development, and implementation of school- and community-based youth intervention programs to encourage better health habits. The HPRC has conducted a number of intervention research projects, including: the randomized control trial of the Planet Health curriculum, which is used in middle schools to teach healthy decision making about nutrition, exercise, and leisure activities; and the Play Across Boston project, which surveyed and evaluated the availability of afterschool fitness programs for Boston-area youth, and studied how access and individual family characteristics influence youth physical activity.

The HPRC records include administrative records and research data for both Planet Health and Play Across Boston. Planet Health records include student fitness questionnaires, television viewing worksheets and graphs, financial records, Wellness Workshops administrative records, and student participation records. Play Across Boston records include: student surveys (concerning health and exercise habits, demographics, access to fitness programs, and other topics); and fitness program provider surveys (concerning program details, cost and accessibility, and participant numbers and demographics).

Steven L. Gortmaker.

Steven L. Gortmaker, M-AD06. From the Harvard Medical Library in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.

In addition to directing the HPRC, Steven L. Gortmaker is Professor of the Practice of Health Sociology in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. His research focuses primarily on the health and mortality risks affecting children and adolescents (particularly low-income and minority), and interventions for mitigating those risks. He served as Principal Investigator on a number of HPRC initiatives, including Planet Health, Play Across Boston, the Out of School Nutrition and Physical Activity Initiative (OSNAP), and is also Co-Director of the Childhood Obesity Intervention Cost-Effectiveness Study (CHOICES). In 1997, he was awarded the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Investigator Award in Health Policy Research.

Gortmaker’s papers comprise his research and teaching records generated during his career. The collection includes research data and administrative records from a number of projects, including: an obesity research project using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey; the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Rural Infant Care Program; and organ donation research for the Partnership for Organ Donation. The papers also include Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health teaching records for courses related to HIV, social behavior, and statistics.

The collections were processed as part of the Bridging the Research Data Divide project, funded by a Hidden Collections grant administered by the Council on Library and Information Resources. 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.

More information on the collections may be found in their online finding aids: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HMS.Count:med00242 (Harvard Prevention Research Center Records); and http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HMS.Count:med00243  (Steven L. Gortmaker papers).

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Staff Finds: “Keeping Osteoporosis off Your Back!” and “Fruit and Vegetable Blackjack”: Planet Health Workshops and Their Materials

By , May 16, 2017
The correct answer and decoy pieces for Inactivity: Beat Your Neighbor.” According to these materials, the average sixth or seventh grader daily spends 8.9 hours sleeping, 6.5 hours sitting outside of class, 5 hours sitting in class, 2.3 hours standing, and 1.4 hours being active.

The correct answer and decoy pieces for Inactivity: Beat Your Neighbor.” According to these materials, the average sixth or seventh grader daily spends 8.9 hours sleeping, 6.5 hours sitting outside of class, 5 hours sitting in class, 2.3 hours standing, and 1.4 hours being active.

In the mid-1990s, the Harvard Prevention Research Center (HPRC) conducted workshops at schools in the Boston metropolitan area as part of its implementation of a randomized control trial of Planet Health, a middle-school-based interdisciplinary wellness curriculum. One series of workshops provided training to introduce teachers to Planet Health, but another series was specifically aimed at promoting wellness for teachers and staff, and included a workshop entitled “Keeping Osteoporosis off Your Back!” Center staff found records of these workshops, as well as game pieces used in workshop activities, while processing the records of the HPRC.

The wellness workshops for teachers and staff were offered as part of the Planet Health curriculum in 1997. “Fitness After 25” discussed the physiological and psychological changes that take place in the body after a person turns 25. A four-week-long course on stress management investigated ways stress can be used advantageously and also taught stress-reduction techniques and exercises. “Keeping Osteoporosis off Your Back” offered instruction on how to build and maintain stronger bones for the participants as well as their families and students. Participants received professional development points for attending each workshop. In addition to these workshops, the program organized a walking group that met once a week for seven weeks at each of the participating schools.

The workshops that teachers attended to learn about that year’s Planet Health curriculum and its thematic units included many different activities, which may also have been used in the classroom with students. Staff found pieces for a game called “Inactivity: Beat Your Neighbor,” cards for a concentration game called “Concentrate on Fat Facts,“ cards for a game called “Fruit and Vegetable Blackjack,” as well as a variety of food models used for games about nutrition.

In “Inactivity: Beat Your Neighbor,” teams received a set of puzzle pieces that listed different amounts of time the average sixth or seventh grader spent sleeping, sitting in class, sitting outside of class, standing, and being active daily. Teams were instructed to choose the pieces that added up to a pie chart with the correct amounts of time. In “Concentrate on Fat Facts,” teams played concentration with a twist: matching a question card with the correct answer card.  In “Fruit and Vegetable Blackjack,” teams answered questions about fruits, vegetables, and general nutrition for points, trying to get as close to 21 points as possible.

Apple pie and applesauce food models. According to the models, apple pie has 327mg of sodium; applesauce has 4mg.

Apple pie and applesauce food models. According to the models, apple pie has 327mg of sodium; applesauce has 4mg.

The food models were used for several different games about nutrition. In one game, players chose the food with the higher sodium content from a series of pairs: ground beef and a hot dog; apple pie and applesauce; a tortilla and tortilla chips. In another game using the hot dog, peanut butter, ground beef, fish sticks, roast beef, halibut, and navy beans food models, players arranged the models in order of highest to lowest fat content. In a third game, players matched a variety of food models (with their nutrition information covered) to their corresponding nutritional value cards (with the food names covered).

The Planet Health curriculum was first developed in 1995 and continues today to give middle school students the knowledge and tools to make good decisions about their nutrition and physical fitness. The HPRC, now called The Harvard Prevention Research Center on Nutrition and Physical Activity at the Harvard School of Public Health, was founded in 1998 in Boston, Massachusetts to work with local, community, and governmental organizations to research, develop, implement, and refine school- and community-based youth intervention programs to encourage better health habits among youth. Its programs particularly focus on improving nutrition and exercise habits in order to lower the risk of obesity and chronic disease in children and youth.

The HPRC collection is expected to be open to research in the spring of 2017. For information regarding access to this collection, please contact Public Services staff. 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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Records of the Harvard School of Public Health Longitudinal Studies of Child Health and Development Now Open to Research

By , May 12, 2017
Faculty members of the Harvard School of Public Health Department of Maternal and Child Health, reading a Growth Study Case History. Seated: Bertha S. Burke, Harold C. Stuart, and Elizabeth P. Rice. Standing: Samuel W. Dooley and Samuel B. Kirkwood, circa 1949.

Faculty members of the Harvard School of Public Health Department of Maternal and Child Health, reading a Growth Study Case History. Seated: Bertha S. Burke, Harold C. Stuart, and Elizabeth P. Rice. Standing: Samuel W. Dooley and Samuel B. Kirkwood, circa 1949, H MS c450. 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 records of the Harvard School of Public Health Longitudinal Studies of Child Health and Development, 1918-2015 (inclusive), 1930-1989 (bulk), are now open to research. The longitudinal studies, otherwise known as the Harvard Growth Study, were founded in 1930 by Harold Coe Stuart (1891-1976) in the school’s Department of Maternal and Child Health. It was one of several United States growth studies that were initiated in response to a recognized lack of knowledge about child health and development. The original study enrolled 309 prenatal subjects between 1930 and 1939, 134 of whom were followed through to maturity (18 years). Researchers tracked subjects’ health, physical development, diet, and social and psychological functioning. The data from this and other growth studies were used to create pediatric growth curves and percentile charts that became the standard used by pediatricians across the country.

Infant boys anthropometric growth chart, created with data from the Harvard School of Public Health Longitudinal Studies of Child Health and Development.

Infant boys 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.

Recognizing the reuse potential of the rich data collected during the original study, investigators periodically called subjects back for more targeted follow-up studies over the following decades.  A 30-year follow-up study on adult health related to child health was conducted between 1960 and 1969; a 40-year follow-up on blood pressure and cardiac health was held between 1970 and 1979; and two 50-year follow-up studies on gynecology and memory of diet in the distant past took place between 1980 and 1989.

The records comprise research data from the original and all four follow-up studies. There is a variety of data types and formats, including: physical examinations and medical records; anthropometric measurements and growth curves; progressive somatotype photographs; somatotype family trees; nutrition and diet surveys; social work interviews and reports; and various medical test results. The data is accompanied by methodologies, protocols, codebooks, reports, grant files, subject participation records, personnel records, and related administrative records.  The collection also includes manuscript drafts and publications composed by Growth Study staff members, and collected publications, brochures, and pamphlets related to maternal and child health.

Family Physical Characteristics Key, created during the Harvard School of Public Health Longitudinal Studies of Child Health and Development.

Family Physical Characteristics Key, created during 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.

This is the first of four collections to be processed under the Bridging the Research Data Divide project, funded by a Hidden Collections grant administered by the Council on Library Resources.  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.

For more information on the Growth Study and the collection, please view the online finding aid:

http://oasis.lib.harvard.edu/oasis/primo?id=med00211&q=undefined

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Chester Pierce Honored in Campus Fitness Challenge

By , March 3, 2017
Image courtesy of ESPN's blog, The Undefeated.

Image courtesy of ESPN’s blog, The Undefeated.

Each year EcoOpportunity, Harvard’s Longwood Campus (HLC) Green Team, hosts “Take the Stairs”–a team-based campaign to encourage and support movement throughout the Harvard community. Hundreds of members of the Harvard community register to increase the quality and quantity of their daily movement, and to track this data with the ultimate goal of “climbing” the highest peaks around the world. This year, EcoOpportunity made a unique decision to map its challenge to a peak renowned not for its height, but rather for its connection to the Harvard community: Pierce Peak, named in honor of Dr. Chester Pierce.

Dr. Chester M. Pierce (1927-2016), Harvard College Class of 1948, Harvard Medical School Class of 1952, was emeritus professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and emeritus professor of education at the Harvard School of Education. He was the first African American full professor at Massachusetts General Hospital, and practiced in the Department of Psychiatry for over 25 years. Dr. Pierce was also the Past President of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology and the American Orthopsychiatric Association, and was the founding president of the Black Psychiatrists of America. In 1970, Dr. Pierce was the first to use the term “microaggression” to describe insults and dismissals he regularly witnessed non-black Americans inflict on African Americans. He served on 22 editorial boards, and published over 180 books, articles, and reviews.

Dr. Pierce dedicated much of his time to working with organizations that helped to promote human rights, conservation, and youth education. For example, he acted as a consultant for the Children’s Television Network, the Surgeon General of the U.S. Air Force, the US Arctic Research Commission, the Peace Corps, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

Pierce Peak, (5,872.7 ft, or 1,790 m) is located in Antarctica two miles south of Sullivan Peaks at the northeastern edge of Mackin Table in the Patuxent Range, Pensacola Mountains (coordinates: 84°0’52”S 63°0’09″W). In 1968, the peak was named in honor of Dr. Pierce who, with Jay T. Shurley, studied the psychophysiology of men while asleep and awake–both before, during, and after two sojourns at the South Pole Station, during the winters of 1963 and 1966. The mountains surrounding Pierce Peak were also named in honor of Dr. Pierce’s team-members and co-authors, including Shurley Ridge, Brooks Nunatak, and Natani Nunatak.

Joan Ilacqua, Archivist for Women in Medicine at the Center for the History of Medicine, conducted an oral history with Dr. Pierce in 2015 as part of Equal Access: Oral Histories of Diversity and Inclusion at Harvard Medical School. Topics discussed included attending Harvard College and Harvard Medical School, specializing in psychiatry, Navy service, researching in Antarctica, and being the first President of the Black Psychiatrists of America. To listen, or to read a transcript of the interview, visit OnView.

Registration for Take the Stairs runs from March 1st through 15th, and is open to any Harvard affiliate with a HarvardKey. Visit the website to learn more.

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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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