Posts tagged: oral history

Harvard Six Cities Study Oral History Project Receives Funding

By , March 1, 2019

Doug Dockery collecting outdoor air samples for the Harvard Six Cities Study. Image courtesy of the Harvard University Center for the Environment.

Heather Mumford, Archivist for the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, has received funding from the Dean’s Office and the Department of Environmental Health at the Harvard Chan School to immediately begin a Harvard Six Cities Study Oral History Project. In the coming months, Mumford will work closely with those closest to the study, such as Douglas Dockery, Frank Speizer, Francine Laden, John Spengler, and Petros Koutrakis, to identify key topics and narratives for inclusion in the project. The resulting oral history interviews will be recorded, transcribed, and preserved for posterity at the Center for the History of Medicine.

For more information about the project, please contact Heather Mumford.

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.

Introducing the Strong Medicine Project Coordinator

By , March 5, 2014

We are happy to welcome Joan Ilacqua as Project Coordinator for the Center’s efforts to capture, preserve, and share the stories and reflections of the medical community’s experiences of the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing and its aftermath.

Joan Ilacqua, 2014

Joan Ilacqua, 2014

Q. Why did you join the Center’s Strong Medicine initiative?

A. I became involved with Strong Medicine not only to make Boston Stronger, but also to make Boston Better. As a public historian, my job is usually to navigate the relationship between historical institutions and the public who come to view a museum collection or take a tour. Strong Medicine employs another facet of public history, that is, to collect and create history with the public’s help. Northeastern University’s Our Marathon, our partner project, is undergoing a similar project collecting memories, photographs, and other media from all over Greater Boston and the world. By contrast, Strong Medicine looks to a more narrow community: Boston’s medical community. Boston has some of the most prestigious hospitals, medical schools and libraries, and other medical institutions, in the world. Strong Medicine looks to save the stories of the people of this community who came together to heal Marathon survivors and Boston. Learning what these people did, why they did it, what they learned, and how they’ve changed and transformed since then, provides a way for Boston to heal itself by looking to the strength of the medical community. Collecting submissions for Strong Medicine is my own contribution to making Boston Better and I am proud to be a part of it.

Q. What will you be doing as Project Coordinator?

A. My first role is to be the public face of Strong Medicine. We have an open call for submissions and I’m here to rally people to submit and answer questions. I’ve been contacting groups asking to submit their materials to us, and I’m scheduling collection events with local institutions. If you’re interested in working with us, please contact me!

I’ve also been helping at Our Marathon’s collection events, and finding new submissions for Strong Medicine through Our Marathon. Through our partnership, we share our submissions across both digital archives to provide the largest public access possible.

So far, our biggest project has been an oral history project. Three wonderful Harvard History of Medicine students, Emily Harrison, Jacob Moses, and Miriam Rich, are interviewing medical professionals across Boston. 20 interviews are scheduled for this spring and we’re still scheduling interviews! This unique project will provide insight into institutional training and reactions to this disaster, reflections on the use and prevalence of technology and social media, as well as personal reactions to the tragedy. As of today, three of those interviews have been undertaken and we’re working to quickly get them transcribed, online, and available to the public.

Q. What should people do if they want to contribute a story or photo to Strong Medicine?

A. Please don’t hesitate to submit to Strong Medicine! Every story is important and we want to hear yours. Your story will become part of the vital effort to help us remember, reflect, and heal. You can submit your story, photograph, or social media screen-captures at

We can also schedule a collection event at your institution! I will travel to your institution, talk with you and your colleagues about the project, and guide you through the submission process. Contact me at for more information or with any questions. I’d love to hear from you!

Joan comes to the Center for the History of Medicine by way of UMass Boston’s Public History graduate program, where she is the History Graduate Student Association President. She has extensive museum and archives experience at such institutions as the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, UMass/Boston University Archives and Special Collections, Plimoth Plantation, and several National Park Service sites. She holds a B.A. in History and Studio Art from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington.

Share Your 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing Stories

By , February 19, 2014

StongMed_NoSubStrong Medicine is a digital archive created by the Center for the History of Medicine to capture the Boston medical community’s experiences of and responses to the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing. It is a space where stories, photographs, and other media created by the medical community are available to inform and inspire health care professionals, students, and the general public.

Strong Medicine’s first submission is the Brigham and Women’s Boston Marathon Bombing Ephemera collection. It highlights only a fraction of the cards and letters of support, sympathy, and encouragement sent to Marathon survivors and healers at the Brigham from around the country. The collection also includes objects sent from as far away as Washington state and handmade blankets from as close as Braintree, Massachusetts. The cards and gifts embody the healing spirit felt for those affected by the Marathon Bombing.

Message of support sent to Brigham and Women's Hospital after th

In addition, the Boston Medical Library has funded the collection of interviews with key Boston health care professionals on duty that day. Three graduate students from Harvard’s History of Science department, Emily Harrison, Jacob Moses, and Miriam Rich, have scheduled interviews with professionals from Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Massachusetts General Hospital. We continue to pursue the involvement of other trauma centers. Interview topics include disaster planning and preparedness, the awareness and presence of news media and social media, technologies and training, and lessons learned. Interviews are being undertaken this spring and will be uploaded to the digital archive as they are completed.

Strong Medicine is actively seeking and accepting submissions from individuals in the medical community to create the most complete and useful documentary record possible. Please submit your stories, photographs, texts, or social media screen captures to the Strong Medicine archive at or contact us to host a Strong Medicine collecting session at your institution.

Questions should be directed to Strong Medicine Project Coordinator Joan Ilacqua at

We also invite you to visit our partner site, Northeastern University’s Our Marathon Boston Bombing Digital Archive.

Help us all remember, reflect, and heal.

C. G. Jung Biographical Archive Recordings Digitized

By , April 1, 2011

Carl Gustav Jung

The Center for the History of Medicine is happy to announce that the audio recordings of the C. G. Jung Biographical Archive have been digitized and are now available to researchers. Previously accessible only in transcript form, the collection consists of 181 interviews with Jung’s family, friends, colleagues, and contemporaries. The interviews, which took place from 1968 to 1972, were funded by the Francis G. Wickes Foundation and were conducted by Dr. Gene F. Nameche. The collection was donated to the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine in 1972. A mentee of Sigmund Freud, Jung was a leader in dream analysis and is credited with founding the field of analytical psychology.

Due to restrictions set by the interviewees, some interviews are closed to access. In addition, access to the entire collection is restricted to onsite use only. For more information regarding access, please contact the Public Services staff.

The digitization of the Jung Biographical Archive was supported by the Carl Gustav Jung Fund, created at the time of the collection’s donation to ensure its longterm research use and accessibility.

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