The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to announce that three collections related to physicians and social activism are now open to research, as part of the Center’s Access to Activism Project. These collections are the records of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (founded 1980), and the papers of Jonathan R. Beckwith (born 1935) and Sanford Gifford (1918-2013).
The International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War is an association of national medical organizations that seek to educate the international community of the dangers of nuclear war and weaponry. Founded in 1980 by cardiologists Bernard Lown (born 1921) and Evgueni Chazov (born 1929), the organization was awarded the 1984 UNESCO Peace Education Prize and the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize. The records, 1957-1989 (inclusive), 1980-1987 (bulk), include administrative records, international congress records, petition campaign records, writings and publications, and audiovisual recordings of meetings and lectures, among other records.
Jonathan R. Beckwith is a microbiologist and geneticist at Harvard Medical School whose focus is on bacterial genetics; he is credited with isolating the first gene from a bacterial chromosome in 1969 with James Shapiro (born 1943) and Lawrence J. Eron (born 1944). He has advocated throughout his career for social responsibility in scientific and genetic research, and has also protested genetic, racial, and gender discrimination in science and society. The papers, 1933-2011 (inclusive), 1965-2004 (bulk), include: Beckwith’s Harvard Medical School teaching and administrative records; research, lectures, and publications concerning the lac operon, disulfide bonds, membrane proteins, and other areas of bacterial genetics and microbiology; and administrative records of Science for the People and various other activist groups.
Finally, Sanford Gifford was a psychiatrist at Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute, focusing on the psychiatry of twins, sleep deprivation, stress, psychophysiology, and the history of psychoanalysis, among other topics. He was also a strong advocate against the Vietnam War, and was an early member of Physicians for Social Responsibility and Medical Aid for Indochina. The papers, 1895-2013 (inclusive), 1950-2000 (bulk), include: Gifford’s psychiatric research records, lectures, and publications; oral histories and publications on the history of psychoanalysis; professional appointments records; and administrative and conference records for various professional and activist organizations.
The project, funded by a Hidden Collections grant by the Harvard University Libraries, sought to increase visibility and access to collections created by physicians of social conscience in order to reach a broad audience across the sciences, social sciences, and humanities. For more information on the project and these collections, please contact Emily R. Novak Gustainis, Head, Collections Services.