HOLLIS CatalogFind It @ HarvardPubMed with full textAsk A Librarian
logo headerBML LinkCountwayCountwayCountwayCountway

Foundations of Public Health Policy (FPHP)

home | about | collections | exhibits and outreach | contact

Foundations of Public Health Policy (FPHP) is an initiative that was originally funded by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR). With grant funding (2009-2011), the Center for the History of Medicine enabled, for the first time, access to the manuscript collections of influential leaders in the field of public health and public health administration. Until now, the records of Leona Baumgartner, Allan Macy Butler, Howard Hiatt, and David Rutstein, among other Public Health luminaries, have not been organized for research, significantly diminishing the use of primary resources necessary to the study of this subject. FPHP is part of the Center’s larger effort to chronicle the history of public health, starting with the Harvard School of Public Health, its centers, and its institutes.

Read more about the project in our press release.


Howard Hiatt Papers Opened to Research

Howard Hiatt, probably 1972, at the start of his tenure as Dean of Harvard School of Public Health. From the Harvard Medical Library in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.

The Hiatt collection finding aid is now available here.

Howard H. Hiatt (1925-), M.D., 1948, Harvard Medical School, joined the Harvard Medical School faculty in 1955, was the first Herrman L. Blumgart Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Physician-in-Chief at Beth Israel Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, from 1963 to 1972, and Dean of the Harvard School of Public Health from 1972 to 1984. From 1988 to 1990, he was the Head of the Center for Policy and Education, Harvard AIDS Institute. Hiatt specialized in oncology and internal medicine, molecular biology, and biochemistry. He was also known for his public speeches and essays on the human consequences of nuclear war. During his tenure as Dean, the Harvard School of Public Health introduced teaching and research focused on molecular and cell biology, initiated programs in health policy and management, and biostatistics. Hiatt also integrated Harvard School of Public Health’s teaching and research programs with those in other Harvard University faculties, in an attempt to encourage cross-disciplinary research to bring together medicine and social science in the curriculum.

Records in the Howard H. Hiatt Papers were created by Hiatt during the course of his career as Dean of the Harvard School of Public Health, Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, and Physician-in-Chief at Beth Israel Hospital from 1941 to 2001. Records in this collection consist of: personal and professional correspondence and subject files from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Beth Israel Hospital, and Harvard School of Public Health departments and offices, including the Office for Diversity, the Department of Health Policy and Management, the Harvard AIDS Institute, the Takemi Program for International Health, the Office of Program Planning, the Harvard School of Public Health Development Office, and the Center for the Analysis of Health Practices; ad-hoc and standing committee records such as the Advisory Committee on Planning, the Affirmative Action Committee, and the Chernin Committee on Outside Professional Activities; notes, book reviews, research files, and draft writings and publications on subjects such as nuclear disarmament, end of life care, and health resource allocation; executive administrative files including curriculum development records, meeting minutes, appointment books, grant proposals and reports; research data, lab notes, and reports from the Brigham and Women’s Medical Intensive Care Unit (Medical Intensive Care Unit) Study and the Harvard Medical Practice Study; speech and lecture files and notes; newspaper articles and magazine clippings; conference and professional organization materials; and a smaller number of photographs and memorabilia.

The preparation of this collection for research access was funded by the Council on Library and Information Resources.

David Rutstein Collection Opened to Research

Rutstein at the studios of WGBH in Boston, ca. 1955

The Rutstein collection is the twelfth and final collection opened under the Center’s CLIR-funded Foundations of Public Health Policy project. The finding aid is available here.

David Davis Rutstein, (1909-1986), S.B., 1930, Harvard College, M.D., 1934, Harvard Medical School, joined the faculty at Harvard Medical School in 1947 as Professor of Preventive Medicine and was head of the Department of Preventive Medicine until 1969. In 1966, he was appointed the Ridley Watts Professor of Preventive Medicine, and held that position until his retirement in 1975. Rutstein was also the Deputy Commissioner of Public Health for the New York City Department of Health from 1943-1946, and was a consultant in preventive medicine for many hospitals in New York and Massachusetts from the 1940s to the 1970s. Rustein played a national role in the organization of medical care, the integration of preventive medicine into the care of individual patients, and the measurement of medical outcomes. In the 1960s he directed a study on forming health maintenance programs, lobbied for a change in state laws regarding birth control for the poor, and advocated the use of nurse midwives for delivery. Some of his later studies with the U.S. Veteran’s Administration were on the genetic basis of alcoholism and on standards of health care. In 1955, Rutstein began a 40-episode television series on WGBH-TV called “Facts of Medicine”. This was one of the first uses of television to inform the public about local and national health concerns and current research.

The collection includes correspondence files documenting programs Rutstein initiated within the Department of Preventive Medicine at Harvard Medical School, as well as his larger influence on curriculum development at the school; teaching activities; and plans for a program in community health care at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). Other aspects of his professional life covered in the papers include involvement in medical societies, especially the American and Massachusetts Heart Associations and American Council on Rheumatic Fever; consulting and advisory work for a variety of international and national medical bodies, including WHO and U.S. Public Health Service, and chairmanship of U.S.-United Kingdom Cooperative Rheumatic Fever Study; research on pneumonia, rheumatic fever, heart and blood vessel diseases, etc., and dissemination of its results to scientists and to the general public through Rutstein’s weekly television program and various articles; and lobbying efforts to change state laws, such as liberalizing birth control laws.

Harvard files contain considerable correspondence with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the United States Public Health Service; curriculum committee records, such as minutes, memoranda, correspondence, proposals, and reports; faculty meeting dockets and related material; lecture schedules, correspondence with students, class rosters (with grades) for the Health Resources program, and other teaching papers; departmental records, such as budgets and recommendations for tenure; and correspondence relating to committees he served on, including the Harvard-MGH Committee on Family Health and Medical Care Program, a community health program at Boston City Hospital, and other subjects. Also includes correspondence and related material concerning Lowell lectures, and his advisory and other work for the Veterans Administration, New York State Health Department, Boston area hospitals and professional societies; subject files for the TV program “The Facts of Medicine,” with fan mail, transcripts, and drafts; correspondence, notes, statements, reports, and printed material related to legislation; and drafts of articles and other publications. Also includes correspondence and notes related to articles published on occupational diseases.

The preparation of this collection for research access was funded by the Council on Library and Information Resources.

Public Health Collections Now Open for Research

Brochure for Skylab, the United States' first space station. From the collection of Robert Benford, who specialized in aviation medicine and had been editor of several aerospace journals. From the Harvard Medical Library in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.

Three public health collections are now available for research:..

Robert J. Benford Papers: Robert Joseph Benford (Nebraska, M.D. 1934) was an officer in the Medical Corps, U.S. Air Force during World War II and made Colonel, 1947-1960. He was also Chief, Engineering Development Division of the Armed Services Medical Procurement Agency. The collection includes many photographs and printed material, such as reports about aeronautical research. Processed by Cheryl Ostrowski.

D. Mark Hegsted Papers: Hegsted (Wisconsin, Ph.D. 1940) taught nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health starting in 1942. In 1968 he served as head of the Food and Nutrition Board, National Academy of Sciences, National Research Council. His principal research interests are in nutritional needs in underdeveloped areas of the world and protein and calcium requirements. The collection documents Hegsted’s professional activities, especially his work with the Food and Nutrition Board to formulate national nutritional policies; his research and other concerns, such as food labeling and coordinating national nutritional programs; and his work toward raising public interest in nutritional issues. Processed by Hanna Clutterbuck. Finding aid available here.

Jean Mayer Papers: Mayer (1920- ) (Yale, Ph.D. 1948) taught nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health from 1950 to 1976, when he became president of Tufts University. He chaired the 1969 White House Conference on Food, Nutrition, and Health and served as consultant on nutrition to various countries. He has lectured extensively and written articles and books. His research has dealt primarily with the brain mechanism regulating hunger and food intake and with experimental and clinical obesity. Processed by Hanna Clutterbuck. The finding aid is here.

These collections were processed as a part of the Center’s CLIR-funded project, Foundations of Public Health Policy, which recently concluded. for more informatoion about these collections, additional Foundations collections, or the project, see the project website.

Dissolving Boundaries Event Video Available

Dr. Frederick John Stare, "March of Medicine" telecast, 1953. From the Harvard Medical Library in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.

A lecture and discussion to celebrate the Foundations in Public Health Policy project was held on February 7, 2011 at the Countway Library, 10 Shattuck St., Boston.  “Dissolving Boundaries: Extending the Reach of Medicine and Public Health” was recorded and can be streamed online by clicking the link above.


Allan Brandt, Ph.D., Dean, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences; Professor of the History of Science; Amalie Moses Kass Professor of the History of Medicine

Julio Frenk, M.D., Ph.D., Dean of the Faculty, Harvard School of Public Health; T & G Angelopoulos Professor of Public Health and International Development, Harvard School of Public Health and Harvard Kennedy School

Jeffrey S. Flier, M.D., Dean of the Faculty, Harvard Medical School; Caroline Shields Walker Professor of Medicine

with introductory remarks by Scott H. Podolsky, Director of the Center for the History of Medicine.

Staff Finds: Sean O’Faolain and Jean Mayer

While processing the papers of Dr. Jean Mayer (1920-1993), staff at the Center of the History of Medicine discovered a small cache of letters written between Mayer and Irish writer Sean O’Faolain in 1963. O’Faolain, born in Cork in Ireland in 1900, educated in Ireland and Boston, Massachusetts, and a former member of the Irish Republican Army, was a well-known short story writer and novelist. Holiday magazine, an American-based travel publication, commissioned him to write an article about the French Roman Catholic pilgrimage site, the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes.

He intended to examine the records of the Medical Bureau at Lourdes and felt he needed medical expertise in order to carry out his plan. He contacted Jean Mayer seeking a referral to a “French speaking physician with sufficient critical mind” to accompany him to Lourdes.  O’Faolain was hoping. according to the letter he wrote to Mayer from his home in Ireland in March of 1963, “…to examine the records of some famous case like that of Mme Rose Martin [who visited Lourdes]…after which she was allegedly ‘cured’ of cancer of the neck, and say whether he [the doctor] considered that the case had been fully and properly diagnosed and reported on…”

Since Mayer’s own expertise lay in the field of human nutrition, he was unable to assist O’Faolain personally. On O’Faolain’s behalf, he contacted Dr. Louis J. Verhoestraete of the World Health Organization who was able to suggest several physicians who might be interested in the project.

Mayer’s correspondence files do not report whether or not O’Faolain completed his trip successfully or whether the magazine published the finished article. The files do contain an enthusiastic “thank you” from O’Faolain in 1963 for Mayer’s efforts in putting him in touch with Professor Thiebaut who O’Faolain felt might be able to assist him with the project.

Jean Mayer was an Associate Professor of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health (1950-1976) and also President of Tufts University (1976-1992). He was born in Paris in 1920 and was considered a brilliant lycée student, graduating with high honors. After being commissioned in the French Army after the outbreak of World War II, he was captured by German forces. He escaped from a POW camp and served with the French underground, including time as a double agent for British intelligence in the Vichy government and as a staff member for General Charles de Gaulle in London. After 1945, Mayer married an American citizen and moved permanently to the United States, obtaining a doctorate from Yale University in 1948 and joining the Harvard faculty in 1950. Mayer’s research interests focused around human diet and nutrition; he was a well-known commentator on diet and food issues, as a Special Consultant on to President Nixon, organized the 1969 White House Conference on Food, Nutrition, and Health.

Valid XHTML 1.0 Strict