• picture
  • picture
PRI's Environmental News Magazine

The Living on Earth Almanac

Air Date: Week of September 10, 1999

This week, facts about... Dr. Alice Hamilton, the mother of American occupational and public health. She was also the first woman to be hired as a professor at Harvard, eighty years ago.

Transcript

CURWOOD: Eighty years ago, Harvard University hired its first woman faculty member. Her name was Alice Hamilton, and she was appointed assistant professor at the medical school, but she was not allowed to join the Harvard Club, march in the commencement procession, or even obtain tickets to football games. Those obstacles did not keep Dr. Hamilton from doing pioneering work to research and reform urban and industrial environmental conditions. And she is today considered America's mother of occupational and public health.

During her career, Dr. Hamilton argued against putting lead into gasoline when that idea was first proposed. Her investigations exposed the connections between sewage outflows in Chicago and a serious typhoid epidemic, and led to sanitation improvements that became a model for the nation. Dr. Hamilton's work drew praise from many quarters, including the White House. In a letter to a friend, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt wrote this of Dr. Hamilton after attending an event in her honor: "So gentle and unassuming, and yet look what she has done. She has probably given the impetus to workman's compensation and research into industrial disease and saved countless lives and heartbreaks." And for this week, that's the Living on Earth Almanac.

 

 

Living on Earth wants to hear from you!

P.O. Box 990007
Prudential Station
Boston, MA, USA 02199
Telephone: 1-617-287-4121
E-mail: comments@loe.org

Donate to Living on Earth!
Living on Earth is an independent media program and relies entirely on contributions from listeners and institutions supporting public service. Please donate now to preserve an independent environmental voice.

Newsletter
Living on Earth offers a weekly delivery of the show's rundown to your mailbox. Sign up for our newsletter today!

Major funding for Living on Earth is provided by the National Science Foundation.

Committed to healthy food, healthy people, a healthy planet, and healthy business.

Innovating to make the world a better, more sustainable place to live.

Kendeda Fund, furthering the values that contribute to a healthy planet.

The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment: Committed to protecting and improving the health of the global environment.

Contribute to Living on Earth and receive, as our gift to you, an archival print of one of Mark Seth Lender's extraordinary hummingbird photographs. Follow the link to see Mark's current collection of photographs.