Posts tagged: Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

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.

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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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Harvard Chan School Archivist Collaborates to Create First Historical Timeline of the Department of Environmental Health

By , August 9, 2016

A brief history of the Department of Environmental Health, displayed as a timeline. Please click the image to enlarge.

Working collaboratively with faculty and staff within the Department of Environmental Health at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, public health archivist Heather Mumford created a comprehensive timeline detailing historic names and department chairs. The resulting visual helped convey the complex narrative of the department’s evolution over a 100+ year history.

To complete this research, Heather relied on digitized historic Harvard Chan School catalogs available online and, with the assistance of Reference Archivist Jessica Murphy, consulted other historic administrative records available at the Center for the History of Medicine to confirm their results. Departmental faculty were given the opportunity to weigh in on the timeline, and to give feedback about what types of information (departmental name changes, chairs, etc.) were most interesting or informative to include.

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Explore the Harvard Chan School’s first catalog (1913).

The history of the department is somewhat difficult to track, as a singular “Department of Environmental Health” was not present in the early school, known as the Harvard-MIT School for Health Officers (1913-1922). In fact, formal departments did not exist at this time. Instead, courses were placed in “groups” with titles such as “Sanitary Biology and Sanitary Chemistry” or “Sanitary Engineering”.

In 1922, after the school received a Rockefeller grant and became the Harvard School of Public Health, the course catalogs began grouping courses by “divisions”. This included the founding of the departments of Physiology, under the leadership of Cecil Drinker (succeeded in 1948 by James Whittenberger), and Industrial Hygiene, which in 1932 came under the leadership of Philip Drinker, followed by Leslie Silverman in 1961. Over time these divisions become known as departments, and at certain points they merged and/or changed names. In 1991, a single “Department of Environmental Health” emerged.

This timeline was created to complement an exhibit on plethysmograph research, located on floor L-1 of the Countway Library and set to open later this summer. It was also used as part of a departmental retreat in May 2016, and has since been professionally printed by the department so that it can be placed on permanent display within their offices.

For more information about the Harvard Chan School Archives at the Center for the History of Medicine, contact Heather Mumford.

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Center Featured on ThairathTV

By , December 8, 2015
Prince_Mahidol_Adulyadej

Mahidol Adulyadej, Prince of Songkla. Father of HRH Princess Galyani, HM King Ananda Mahidol (Rama VIII) and HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX). Photograph circa 1914-1928.

In November, representatives from the Thai television channel ThairathTV arranged to visit the Center for the History of Medicine and review materials relating to Mahidol Adulyadej, Prince of Songkla (January 1, 1892 – September 24, 1929). Prince Mahidol was one of the earliest international students to graduate from the Harvard-MIT School for Health Officers, now known as the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and is widely regarded as the father of modern medicine and public health of Thailand.

The Thairath team visited the Harvard Medical School campus with the purpose of coming face-to-face with historic artifacts relating to the Prince, his family, and his time at Harvard. Center for the History of Medicine staff members Jessica Murphy, Reference Archivist, and Heather Mumford, Archivist for the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, curated relevant materials from Center collections for the team and were on hand to discuss their significance to Harvard and broader communities.

As part of the visit, Dr. Joseph Brain, Cecil K. and Philip Drinker Professor of Environmental Physiology in the Department of Environmental Health, was interviewed by ThairathTV representatives for his insight on the Prince’s impact on public health. “What I admire about [Prince Mahidol] is, not that he was royalty, but that he was entirely committed to the health and welfare of the people of Thailand,” stated Dr. Brain.

thai_tvFootage from this visit was incorporated into a broadcast aired this month, which includes a visit to a number of historic landmarks in Massachusetts relating to the Prince and his family. The video can be viewed (primarily in Thai, with some English) on YouTube and Facebook, as well as on ThairathTV’s website.

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New Acquisitions: Rose E. Frisch Papers

By , September 29, 2015
Rose E. Frisch, seen in the early 1980s, spent decades at the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies. Image courtesy of the New York Times.

Rose E. Frisch, seen in the early 1980s, spent decades at the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies. Image courtesy of the New York Times.

The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to announce the acquisition of the personal and professional papers of the late Dr. Rose E. Frisch (1918-2015), a biologist whose work was instrumental in the discovery of leptin. Dr. Frisch was associate professor emerita of population sciences at the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (HSPH), and is mainly known for her work in infertility; specifically the discovery that low body fat was a contributing factor to infertility. She also demonstrated the relationship between early athletic activity and later-life cancer. For more about Dr. Frisch, please read the obituary released by HSPH on February 13, 2015, or her obituary in the New York Times.

The collection, which is not yet available for research, spans Dr. Frisch’s career (1937-2014) and consists of writings/publications, correspondence, photographs, annotated reference material, research proposals, reprints, and a handwritten autobiography.

For more information about the collection, contact Public Services at chm@hms.harvard.edu.

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Preserving Our Collections: the Richard P. Strong Papers

By , August 20, 2014
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Richard P. Strong with a microscope on the Amazon River, ca. 1924. Image courtesy of the Center for the History of Medicine, Countway Library.

Occasionally, the Center for the History of Medicine at Countway Library has an opportunity to address the preservation needs of older collections being stored in problematic housing. In the case of the Richard Pearson Strong Papers, 1911-2004 (inclusive), 1911-1945 (bulk), archivists recently took the opportunity to transfer 69 ft. of records from older, overstuffed, acidic manuscript boxes into spacious,  acid-free, archival quality records center cartons. These important preservation steps ensure continued access to the collection over time, and also gave archivists a unique opportunity to provide additional context within folder labels to benefit future researchers.

Richard Strong (1872-1948)  became the first professor of tropical medicine at Harvard in 1913, and between 1913 and 1934 made several expeditions to  South and Central America and Africa to investigate diseases and obtain material for his laboratory and teaching work. After retiring from Harvard in 1938, he volunteered to teach in the Army Medical School during the Second World War. During this period Strong was the foremost authority in the U.S. in the field of tropical medicine. Throughout his career he participated in many international commissions investigating disease control.

The Richard Pearson Strong Papers are a popular research tool at the Center, with material ranging from Harvard teaching and departmental records, to expedition records such as diaries, notes, supply and equipment lists, and manuscripts of lectures and reports. His correspondence includes exchanges with Harvard associates, scientists, U.S. and foreign public officials, former President Coolidge, missionaries, and organizations such as the Rockefeller Foundation. Strong’s expeditions included visits to Peru (1913 and 1937), Brazil (1924), Liberia and the Belgian Congo (1926-1927 and 1934), Guatemala (1931-1932), and the Yucatan (1931). A 1934 film of the Harvard African Expedition, in which Strong investigates diseases and obtains material for his laboratory and teaching work, has been digitized and made available online through OnView here.

Until recently, Strong’s collection was being stored in older, overstuffed, acidic boxes, which over time leads to deterioration and discoloration. Folder tabs with crucial contextual information had lost their adhesive and were falling off of their respective folders. Unnecessary metal accoutrements, such as paper clips and staples, contributed additional damage to fragile records. Reference staff also noted that the contents within each box had, over time, fallen out of their original order — likely due to the fact that the older manuscript boxes were too small to accommodate them.

As part of crucial preservation efforts, Center staff took careful measures to rehouse materials, remove unnecessary paper clips and staples, and restore the original order of each box. Delicate fabrics, such as academic garments and banners, were folded with non-buffered tissue and rehoused in customized acid-free boxes. Staff also took the opportunity to add additional context (such as date ranges) to new folder labels, which will in turn provide better context to future researchers.

Such important preservation steps ensure both the protection of the Richard P. Strong Papers and the availability and utility of these records to Center researchers for years to come.

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Lagakos Papers, Dept. of Biostatstics Records Open to Research

By , March 28, 2014
Stephen Lagakos

Stephen Lagakos

The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to announce the opening of the Stephen W. Lagakos papers, 1971-2009 (inclusive), 1995-2009 (bulk) and the records of the Department of Biostatistics, Harvard School of Public Health, 1981-2009 (inclusive), 1999-2003 (bulk). The Lagakos papers include research records from Lagakos’s involvement in HIV/AIDS clinical trials, his professional writings, teaching records, records from his involvement with professional organizations, and personal correspondence, appointment books and photographs. The Department of Biostatistics records, most of which are from Lagakos’s tenure as chair of the department, contain administrative records, including those documenting faculty searches, appointments, and departmental meetings, as well as course schedules and evaluations.

Stephen W. Lagakos (1946-2009, B.S., 1968, Carnegie-Mellon University, M.Ph., Ph.D., 1972, George Washington University) was a biostatistician, AIDS researcher, and professor of biostatistics at the Harvard School of Public Health. Lagakos was a member of Department of Biostatistics from 1978 until his death in 2009, also serving as chair of the department (1999-2006). In the 1980s, Lagakos worked with Harvard School of Public Health colleagues on the Woburn Study, which linked higher incidences of leukemia and birth defects in Woburn, Massachusetts with polluted water supply wells. From 1989 to 1996, Lagakos served as director of the Statistical and Data Analysis Center, AIDS Clinical Trials Group (ACTG). In 1995, he became the founder and director of the Center for Biostatistics in AIDS Research (CBAR). Lagakos died, along with his wife and mother, in an automobile accident in New Hampshire in 2009.

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.

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

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

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Stephen Lagakos

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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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Archivist Attends APHA Conference Through Sewell Award

By , November 14, 2013
Heather Cristiano

Heather Cristiano, Archivist for the Harvard School of Public Health, poses in the stacks at the Center for the History of Medicine, Countway Library.

In August, Harvard School of Public Health’s newly appointed archivist, Heather Cristiano, was awarded a Sewell Stipend to attend the American Public Health Association (APHA) Annual Meeting. This stipend is sponsored by the Grace and Harold Sewell Memorial Fund, which was established with the intention of increasing librarians’ effectiveness at providing reliable/relevant information to public health professionals. Heather was the only (and rumored to be the first!) archivist to receive the award.

As a Sewell Stipend recipient, Heather attended the APHA’s annual meeting in Boston from Sunday, November 3rd until Wednesday, November 6th under the mentorship of David Hemenway, Professor of Health Policy in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH). As part of the mentoring experience, Heather attended two sessions that included presentations from Dr. Hemenway on gun violence prevention, and spent time informally connecting with Dr. Hemenway and his colleagues to learn more about public health within the context of Harvard.

In addition to these requirements, Heather also volunteered with the Spirit of 1848 caucus at a late-night lecture given by Winona LaDuke, and sought informational interviews from Spirit of 1848 caucus members Nancy Krieger, Professor of Social Epidemiology Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at HSPH and Anne-Emanuelle Birn, Professor of Global Health/Social and Behavioral Health Sciences at the University of Toronto.

APHA

A panoramic view of the expo at APHA’s annual meeting at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, November 2013.

Heather’s ultimate goal for her conference experience was to come away with a better sense of both contemporary and historic public health issues, particularly those outside the context of a university. This knowledge, in turn, would allow her to make better strategic collecting decisions for the newly formed Harvard School of Public Health archives.

Of course, Heather came away from this four day conference experience with much more than she had bargained for! Her main takeaways included:

  1. Public health issues are interconnected.  During his opening address for the conference, Michael Marmot connected income inequality with health disparities; in her presentation Climate Change, Public Health and Indigenous Peoples, Winona LaDuke reported increases in incidents of violent crimes, traffic crashes, and crimes against women in communities exposed to fracking; Food is Medicine and Prevention focused exclusively on the concept that adequate nutrition reduces health care costs; Farm to Preschool  emphasized connecting schools with local growers, which in turn improves the local economy as well as the health of individual families—these are only a few examples of conference sessions that painted a clear picture of how public health issues are interrelated.
  2. How crucial (and visible) an archival perspective is to modern public health research. It was fascinating to note the many different presentations that utilized historic research: Richard Mizelle’s presentation on the relationship of population displacement to obesity and diabetes; Teddy Roosevelt’s pioneering decision to institute “public cooling” during the 1896 heat wave by distributing ice blocks to New York City residents; Dora Anne Mill’s review of the role of Maine public health policies during the 1918 flu epidemic;  the crucial convergence of Medicare, the civil rights movement, and commitment from President Lyndon B. Johnson that led to the desegregation of hospitals in the 1960s. These four examples are only a small sampling of the thought-provoking research presented at this year’s conference that relied heavily on a historical perspective on public health.
  3. The importance of looking back at our history and making conscious departures from the status quo. In the session Sandy Hook Reflections and Solutions, presenting author Timothy A. Akers began with Einstein’s quote “problems cannot be solved at the same level of awareness that created them.” This theme reemerged time and time again—that only through reflection can we move forward to a better solution for the future. Along these lines, David Hemenway stated in  Legal Approaches Targeting Firearm Manufacturers and Distributors  that in order to address illegal firearm use, it is imperative that our culture shift from current methods of blame and political finger-pointing to a change in social norms in conjunction with law. Making a direct comparison to motor vehicles, Dr. Hemenway spoke about how our culture has shifted its perspective on drunk driving; as a culture we now know to recognize a dangerous situation before it happens, and take away keys from an inebriated driver. Could we not also develop a similar concern for friends and family members who are experiencing tough emotional times, and offer to temporarily store their guns away in a safe (and unknown) place?

Heather was grateful for this conference experience, as well as the opportunities afforded to her through the Sewell award, which has further developed her understanding of public health from the perspective of the professional and increased her understanding of public health patrons’ roles and needs.

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New Acquisitions: the Jeremiah Mead Papers

By , August 9, 2013

Jere Mead (center, seated) with collaborators (L to R) T. A. Sears, David Leith, Ronald J. Knudson, and Ralph Kellogg, circa 1965. H MS c413. From the Harvard Medical Library in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.

The Center for the History of Medicine is delighted to announce the recent acquisition of Jeremiah Mead’s personal and professional records. The collection consists of research records, correspondence, subject files, and writings produced and collected by Mead during his nearly six decades of leading research in the field of Respiratory Mechanics while working in the Department of Physiology at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH).

Mead (1920-2009) was a graduate of both Harvard College (1943) and Harvard Medical School (1946).  He joined the faculty of the Department of Physiology at HSPH as Assistant Professor in 1950, was appointed Professor of Physiology in 1965, and was named the first Cecil K. and Philip Drinker Professor of Environmental Physiology in 1976 (Emeritus, 1987-2009).

By all accounts, Mead was a “tinkerer” and viewed lab work as “play”; he frequently built conceptual models out of household items and welcomed seemingly outlandish questions and hypotheses as the essential driving force of innovation.  Mead realized his passion for research while engaged in cold-climate physiology experimentation during a post-war Army assignment at Fort Churchill, Manitoba, Canada, a field station for the Quartermaster Corps Climatic Research Laboratory (CRL) then based in Lawrence, Massachusetts (now the United States Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine in Natick, Massachusetts).  Upon his return from service, Mead left clinical medicine and sought to build a career in the lab.  He found his place in the HSPH Department of Physiology under the leadership of James L. Whittenberger.

Mead’s interest in decoding the normal mechanisms of breathing inspired the growth of a new field of Respiratory Mechanics that continued to expand throughout the latter half of the twentieth century.  He and his collaborators developed methods and instruments for measuring air flow and evaluating pulmonary function with ever-increasing accuracy. In recent decades these tools have been applied to the treatment and relief of patients suffering from a host of medical conditions including, but not limited to, poliomyelitis, cystic fibrosis, and asthma.  Perhaps the most widely recognized result of Mead’s work was the 1959 discovery, alongside then-research fellow Mary Ellen Avery, that newborns with fatal respiratory distress syndrome exhibited abnormal surface tension in the lungs; this breakthrough facilitated Avery’s later discovery of lung surfactant and the implementation of life-saving surfactant replacement therapy in newborns.

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