Posts tagged: public health

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.

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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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Arnold Relman Papers Now Open to Research

By , June 19, 2014
Arnold Relman

Arnold Relman

The Arnold S. Relman papers, 1953-2011 (inclusive),  1974-2011 (bulk) are now open to research. The Relman papers contain records from his activities as Editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, author and researcher, and chair of the John Mack Inquiry Committee at Harvard Medical School, and include professional correspondence, research subject files on conflict of interest, for-profit hospitals, health care reform, the medical-industrial complex, and medical ethics, and records from his service on committees at Harvard Medical School and at the Massachusetts Medical Society. The papers also contain Relman’s writings, records from his attendance at professional meetings and conferences, and a small amount of personal records.

Arnold S. Relman (1923-2014; A.B., 1943, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York; M.D., 1946, Cornell University) is a former Editor of the New England Journal of Medicine (1977-1991), nephrologist, professor, author, and researcher. After his residency at New Haven Hospital, Relman was on the faculty at Boston University School of Medicine from 1950 to 1967. In 1967, he became the Conrad Wesselhoeft Professor of Medicine at Boston University. From 1968 to 1977, Relman was the Frank Wister Tomas Professor of Medicine and Chairman of the Department of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia. In 1977, he was appointed Editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, Boston, and Senior Physician at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston. In 2004, he won, with Marcia Angell, the George Polk Award in Journalism. Relman died on Tuesday, June 17, in his home in Lincoln, Massachusetts, of melanoma.

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

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

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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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38th Annual Joseph Garland Lecture, October 23, 2013: “Adventures at the Intersection of Medical Journalism & Public Health” with Lawrence K. Altman, M.D.

By , September 19, 2013

GARLANDLEC_Oct_2013

THE 38th ANNUAL JOSEPH GARLAND LECTURE:

“Adventures at the Intersection of Medical Journalism & Public Health”

 Lawrence K. Altman, M.D.
Medical Journalist/Columnist, The New York Times
Clinical Professor of Medicine, New York University

Wednesday, October 23, 2013
5:30 pm – 6:30 pm

Carl Walter Amphitheatre
Tosteson Medical Education Center
Harvard Medical School
260 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA

bml_logo

Sponsored by the Boston Medical Library in the Countway Library of Medicine

Attendance is free. Registration is required.
Contact Roz Vogel: rvogel@hms.harvard.edu or 617-432-4807

Dr. Altman has been a member of The New York Times science news staff since 1969. In addition to reporting, he writes “The Doctor’s World” column in Science Times. Dr. Altman currently is a senior fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC. He received his undergraduate degree from Harvard University, where he was the advertising manager and treasurer of The Lampoon magazine, and received his medical degree from Tufts University of School of Medicine.

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Lost and Found, Pt. 2: Linda James’ Post-Harvard Career in Public Health

By , May 15, 2013

Linda James, 1914

Earlier this spring I introduced Linda James—the first woman to enroll and graduate with a Harvard Credential on the same basis as men  (Lost and Found, Pt. 1) . Our discovery of Linda’s path, post-Harvard, has come with its fair share of surprises, beginning with a career in immigrant public health before shifting to a difficult yet rewarding life in agriculture and education in the Midwest.

After receiving her C.P.H. from the Harvard-MIT School for Health Officers (now known as the Harvard School of Public Health) in 1917, Linda spent the next four years in various positions in public health administration in Massachusetts and Minnesota. She was a health inspector for Massachusetts Department of Labor and Industry, and a research associate on the health of immigrants in industry for the Carnegie Americanization Study. During this time, Linda attended the Americanization Conference in Washington on May 12-15, 1919, which focused on a congressional bill that outlined a path to Americanization. She also conducted research and prepared materials and statistics on industrial medicine and immigrants for Michael Marks Davis’s publication, Immigrant Health and the Community (New York and London: Harper & Brothers, 1921).

Linda’s professional life shifted in 1922 when she married William A. Benitt, a young attorney from Goodhue, Minnesota. The couple made the collective decision to leave their urban communities and careers to become farmers. From 1929-1930 they both enrolled in the College of Agriculture at the University of Minnesota and, after completing their masters’ degrees, purchased “Apple Acres”—a 200-acre farm in South Washington County, Minnesota. 1930 was a difficult year to begin farming, as it was the start of a decade marked by sagging crop prices and drought. In addition to this hardship, life on Apple Acres during its first decade was very primitive; there was no running water or electricity. Linda and William were also the sole workers on their farm, tending eight hundred apple trees and over one thousand laying hens.

In spite of these hardships, the Benitts were politically active within their community. During the same year of their

William and Linda Benitt with a Chinese guest on their farm (1931). Courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society.

arrival on the farm, the couple joined their neighbors in demanding utilization of federal funds to build electric lines to farms. As a result of their efforts, electricity came to Washington County in 1938.

A year later in 1939, Linda was recruited by the educational staff of the Agricultural Adjustment Administration (A.A.A.)—an agency created in 1933 by the New Deal. The A.A.A. originally aimed to increase farm income by controlling production, but eventually shifted to authorizing crop loans and offering crop insurance on wheat threatened by drought. Linda’s role was to educate town women on farming problems and promote community dialog. Although at first reluctant to leave her farm, Linda’s dedication to the political message of the A.A.A. and concern over the increase in tenant farming eventually won her over. For the next four years she traveled statewide to organize town meetings and lead discussions on farming issues, stopping only when the program lost congressional funding in 1943.

Returning to farm life in Washington County did not suppress Linda’s dedication to activism and education. In 1945, she began a social service program for young children focused on creating a sense of personal responsibility for community life in a democracy. Linda also became involved with the Upper Midwest Women’s History Center, a regional teacher-training center that helped educators integrate women’s curriculum into regular history classes. Additionally, both Linda and William were active in local war-related efforts; in addition to participating in local blackouts, the couple volunteered to be civilian airplane spotters. In 1946, Linda received the Virginia Skelley Achievement Award, which honors leadership and work ethics.

In 1958, at the age of 67, Linda and William sold Apple Acres and spent the next four years traveling both internationally (taking a freighter trip around the world, and separate excursions to Europe and the Middle East) as well as coast-to-coast nationally, living in a little house on a truck. In 1961 the couple moved to the Penney Farms Retirement Community in Clay County, Florida. Linda died in February 1983 at the age of 92; William died a year later in 1984.

A page of the University of Minnesota’s Class of 1914 yearbook, sent by UMN’s archivist, included a portrait of a young Linda.  She was described as “Suffragette, rather militant. We’d like to see you mad.” Linda was a strong woman with a passion for education and public service; her early beginnings as the first woman graduate with a certificate from Harvard University eventually led her to a long, fulfilling life and career as an academic, educator, agriculturalist, and activist.

Read Part 1: Lost and Found: the First Woman with a Harvard Credential.

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A Researcher Reports: Julie Rebecca Barzilay, Harvard College ’13

By , April 24, 2013

Julie Rebecca Barzilay is a Harvard Undergraduate, concentrating in History and Science, Science and Society Track with a focus in Human Evolutionary Biology, English Secondary. She will graduate in May 2013. Julie spoke with us about her research at the Center for the History of Medicine.

What was the topic of your thesis? Why did you select that topic?
My thesis was entitled “The Health of the Child and the Health of the Public: Pediatrics, Child Hygiene, and the Harvard School of Public Health in the Early Twentieth Century,” and revolved around the boundaries between pediatrics and public health in the years from 1920-1950.  After writing a junior paper about infant feeding and its important role in the legitimization of pediatrics in the late 1800s and early 1900s, I had become fascinated by the relationships between pediatricians, parents, and community health workers before any of those fields had become very established.  In many senses, it did take a village to raise a child, because the doctor’s orders could only be carried out by adults surrounding children, who could not be held accountable for their own care.  Because of its inherently preventive focus and the necessity of relying on community networks to ensure care, pediatricians were in a unique position to collaborate and coordinate with public health workers.

According to many histories of public health that I read, medicine and public health were somewhat incompatible and at times hostile fields in this era, and I was fascinated by the ways in which this was not the case for many questions related to the health of the child and the health of the public.  Next year, I’m planning to study history of science at the University of Cambridge, but in the future I have aspirations of going into medicine and possibly pediatrics, so learning about the history of these topics was deeply appealing.

After talking to Jack Eckert and Scott Podolsky at Countway, I became interested in the medicine/public health boundary-crossing taking place in the Harvard School of Public Health’s Department of Child Hygiene (the first of its kind in the nation), and decided to use the Department as a case study.  This led me to Countway’s voluminous archives, and on a treasure hunt around Boston Hospital archives to find out more about this uniquely interdisciplinary Department and its leaders, Richard Mason Smith and Harold Coe Stuart.

What were your initial thoughts about going to the Center for the first time to use the special collections? Had you been in the Countway Library before this year?
I had used Countway quite a bit prior to writing my thesis thanks to my junior paper.  The History of Science Department actually provides a lot of training in how to use the archives at Harvard during the Junior Tutorial course, so when I needed to go back to Countway for my thesis, I felt very comfortable.  I could not have found the sources – from primary documents to collected reprints to Interlibrary loan articles – that provided the heart and soul of the evidence in my thesis without the help of Jessica Murphy and Jack Eckert.  They allowed me to keep materials on hold for weeks on end, and helped me as I sought out scattered materials that had been archived in a less organized era!

Were you able to find the necessary materials and information about the collections via Hollis and Oasis? Were there other resources that you found helpful? Which collections(s) did you use?
I did use Hollis and Oasis extensively, and both were very helpful in locating the collected reprints of the figures and Department I was interested in.  But Eckert and Murphy themselves helped me search through other avenues that yielded many fruitful sources I would otherwise have never discovered.  I used the Department of Child Hygiene’s published documents, the personal folders of Richard Smith, Harold Stuart, Bertha Burke, Fredrick Stare, and a handful of other School of Public Health and Medical School affiliates, as well as the research records of historian and physician Jean Alonzo Curran.  In an exciting turn of events, many primary source documents from the Department of Child Hygiene were sitting inside of Curran’s folders, since he had done research on this Department for his book about the founders of the Harvard School of Public Health in the 1960s.

Did you discover any extremely interesting item(s) or information in the collection(s) that you used?
There were two particularly exciting research moments that come to mind.  One was the discovery of recorded interviews that Curran had conducted with both Smith and Stuart in the 1960s – there were actual transcriptions of interviews with the men whose records I had parsed but whose files lacked a store of personal information or even unpublished sources that provided insight into their personalities and decision-making processes.  These interviews were one step removed from actually hearing the voices of these men in the moment I was writing about, but they were rife with fascinating reflections and personal details that really enriched my understanding of the men, whose stories dominated my thesis, bringing them to life in a whole new way.  On a similar note, I had a lot of luck contacting archivists at Boston hospitals where these men worked – Eckert and Murphy, along with my amazing thesis advisor Chris Phillips, helped me get connected to the archives at Children’s Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts General Hospital, and also Simmons College, where Smith was a trustee.  These archives provided dazzling new personal information about Smith and Stuart, including odes and obituaries written by former students and colleagues, personal correspondence, and other remarkable primary sources that had not been previously excavated by historians.

The second exciting discovery based in Countway’s resources was the use of Interlibrary loans to locate articles from women’s magazines in the 1940s that featured research findings from the Department of Child Hygiene.  These colorful articles helped me understand how Stuart’s research was packaged and disseminated to the public, and reading them was quite fun.  Jessica was crucial to that research process as well, and I can’t thank her enough!

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Lost and Found: the First Woman with a Harvard Credential

By , April 17, 2013

Linda James, circa 1935. Courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society.

It is widely recognized that the Graduate School of Education, established in 1920, was the first Harvard graduate school to enroll women. Those initial graduates in 1921, more than thirty women earning Ed.M. degrees, are considered the first female Harvard University graduates. There were, of course, female graduates of Radcliffe College beginning in the 1890s, however they were registered at Radcliffe, not Harvard.

As the Harvard School for Public Health prepares to celebrate its 100th anniversary, interesting facts in public health history are coming to light. With regard to the enrollment of women, HSPH was a pioneer. In a November 1913 Administrative Board meeting, members voted to admit and credential women with a Certificate in Public Health (C.P.H.) at the Harvard-M.I.T. School for Health Officers (now known as the Harvard School of Public Health). Although this was a certificate program as opposed to a degree program, it was in fact the first program to admit and credential women on the same basis as men.

So who was Harvard’s first credentialed woman? In 1917, Linda Frances James was the first woman to graduate from the School for Health Officers. To learn more about her, we consulted a variety of sources including the Harvard University Archives, the 1917/18 HSPH catalog, the Minnesota Historical Society, and a definitive history, Founders: Harvard School of Public Health, wherein author Jean Alonzo Curran also acknowledges James as the “first woman student.”

From these sources we have learned that James was born in 1891 in Minnesota. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota in 1914, and took a position as a science teacher at Monticello High School from 1914-1915 before enrolling in 1915 as a student at the Harvard-M.I.T. School for Health Officers.

While enrolled at the School for Health Officers, James also worked as a Medical Social Worker at Massachusetts General Hospital from 1916-17. She completed her C.P.H. in January 1917, and shortly after took a position as the Director of After-Care Division at the Harvard Infantile Paralysis Commission …after which point, her story becomes a bit cloudy.

We continue to pursue James’ story… more to come!

Read Part 2: Linda James’ Post-Harvard Career in Public Health.

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