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Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health Archives

About the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

2010 marked the hundredth anniversary of Abraham Flexner’s monumental report on “Medical Education in the United States and Canada.” While the anniversary has generated renewed attention to the training of future physicians and the medical school curriculum, Flexner himself wrote in his report that, “The physician’s function is fast becoming social and preventive, rather than individual and curative.” In fact, in the years immediately following the publication of the Flexner report, the first schools of public health in this country would be formed.

Over the ensuing decades, the subjects of public health concern grew well beyond the initial purview of Flexner and his contemporaries. Environmental health, nutrition, community mental health, tropical medicine, and global health (all served by, and further catalyzing, the epidemiological tools created to advance such fields) have changed how we consider the determinants of “the people’s health” and the steps required to improve it. Today, such fields continue to change, confronting issues (ranging from smoking and obesity to HIV) of ever-greater magnitude, and framed by debates concerning the boundary between organized medicine and public health, national versus global health concerns, and personal versus societal responsibility. Successful efforts to engage such issues have been, and will continue to be, critically dependent upon a historical understanding of their evolution.


Public Health Collections at the Center for the History of Medicine

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, one of the oldest and most influential schools of public health in the United States, has yielded a rich archives related not only to the evolution of the school itself, but to the broader development of national and international twentieth-century public health efforts.

In 2014, the school partnered with the Center for the History of Medicine to fund a full-time archivist dedicated exclusively to identifying and collecting public health collections. This unique partnership has resulted in an expanding number of collections related specifically to the school, including deans, departmental records, and key faculty collections in disciplines ranging from industrial hygiene, nutrition, and community mental health through such international concerns as tropical medicine and global health.

To learn more about public health collections at Harvard, visit the History of Public Health at Harvard LibGuide


Contact Us

For more information, please contact:

Heather Mumford, Archivist, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Phone: 617-432-6206