Posts tagged: Harvard Growth Study

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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