Posts tagged: New York City Department of Public Health

Leona Baumgartner papers, 1830-1979, open for research

Leona Baumgartner receiving the Elizabeth Blackwell Award in 1961. From the Harvard Medical Library in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.

Leona Baumgartner (1902-1991), was the first female Commissioner of Public Health in New York City from 1954-1962 and later became an Assistant Director of the Agency for International Development until 1965. She was named Visiting Professor of Social Medicine and Harvard Medical School in 1966 where she served until her retirement in 1972. Throughout her prominent career in public health administration, Baumgartner was dedicated to health education as a cornerstone of building a healthier community. After becoming district health officer in 1939 she coordinated a growing number of health services such as school health programs, parenting classes and clinics on venereal disease. Maternal and child health care was an important aspect throughout her years in public services which informed her decision to promote family planning practices and birth control. She is credited with convincing President Lyndon Johnson to reverse government policy on funding for international programs providing birth control to make contraception more widely available. She was an early advocate using the Salk vaccine to immunize against polio and was an integral advocate for fluoridation of New York City’s water supply. As health commissioner, Baumgartner continued in the vain of Dr. S. Josephine Baker, who began a tradition of home health visits, by giving weekly radio and television addresses that tackled topics such as home safety and sanitation practices. The recipient of numerous honors, Baumgartner was awarded the Sedgwick Medal, the Albert Lasker Award, the Elizabeth Blackwell Award, the Samuel J. Crumbine Award and the Public Welfare Award from the National Academy of Sciences in recognition of her many contributions to the field of public health.
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The records in this collection were created by Dr. Leona Baumgartner during the course of her career as a state public health administrator and consultant, physician, lecturer, professor, and contributing member of professional health care boards and foundations from 1930 to 1970. The collection consists of research materials, notes, lecture and speech drafts, correspondence, research data, reports, journals, news articles and clippings, conference materials, administrative records, minutes, appointment books, laboratory notes, photographs, and scrapbooks. The collection also contains records generated from Baumgartner’s personal activities, including her travel diaries, letters and notebooks, personal photographs, awards, medals, plaques, diplomas, and other memorabilia.

Click here to view the finding aid

Foundations of Public Health Policy (FPHP) is an initiative currently funded by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR). With grant funding, the Center for the History of Medicine is enabling, for the first time, access to the manuscript collections of influential leaders in the field of public health and public health administration. FPHP is part of the Center’s larger effort to chronicle the history of public health, starting with the Harvard School of Public Health, its centers, and its institutes.

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