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Timeline of Initatives

Funding for the Center for the History of Medicine's Bridging the Research Data Divide: Rethinking long-term value and access for historical and contemporary maternal, infant, and child research was awarded in December 2014 by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, as administered by the Council on Library Resources (CLIR). Read about BRDD.

Funding for the Center for the History of Medicine's project, Access to Activism: Records of Physicians of Social Conscience, was awarded in May 2014 by the Harvard University Library.The initiative will open to researchers three collections that demonstrate the global reach of Harvard faculty and the impact of organizing for social change.

In partnership with Northeastern University's community project Our Marathon: The Boston Bombing Digital Archive, the Center launched its parallel project, Strong Medicine: The Healing Response to the 2013 Marathon Bombing. The project aims to collect stories, images, and communications from the Boston medical community's experience of the Boston Marathon bombing of April 15, 2013 and its aftermath and make them available through OnView, the Center’s portal for digitized content. Submissions are being shared through Our Marathon to allow for the widest possible research use. With funding from the Boston Medical Library, the Center was able to hire Strong Medicine Project Coordinator Joan Ilacqua to advocate for submissions and conduct oral histories with key Boston health care professionals on duty that day, as well as provide oversight for additional interviews conducted by Harvard History of Medicine students. Interview subjects include: Lyle Micheli, Director of the Division of Sports Medicine at Children’s Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, and Medical Team Leader at the Boston Marathon finish line medical tent; Alice Gervasini, Nurse Director for Trauma and Emergency Surgery Services, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts; Elizabeth Nabel, President of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, on the Hospital’s response to the bombing, and many others.

Private Practices, Public Health: Privacy-Aware Processing to Maximize Access to Health Collections, proposed on behalf of the Medical Heritage Library (MHL), was funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and administered by the Council on Library Resources (CLIR). The initiative enabled the Center for the History of Medicine and its partner, the Alan Mason Chesney Medical Archives of the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, both MHL principal contributors, to open currently inaccessible public health collections to researchers while developing best practices for enabling access to special collections containing protected health information and other types of restricted records. The project opened the collections of seven leaders in the field of public health; those processed by the Center include the professional papers of Stephen Lagakos (known for his AIDS research and work linking poor water conditions to public health problems), Erich Lindemann (specialist in social and disaster psychiatry and community mental health), and Arnold Relman (a former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine who has written on the economic, ethical, legal, and social aspects of health care).

Grant funding enabled the Center and Hopkins to address the special collections community’s need for best practices to process and describe collections containing restricted records. Whether privacy is legally mandated (as with HIPAA and FERPA), imposed by parent organizations (as governed by an institutional records schedule), or applied per local practice, all repositories maintain records that pose significant challenges to access.Draft best practices for this project are currently being circulated for distribution in early 2015.

The Medical Heritage Library (MHL), a digital curation collaborative among some of the world’s leading medical libraries to enable and promote free and open access to quality historical resources in medicine.

The Foundations of Public Health Policy (FPHP) initiative 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, including the records of Leona Baumgartner, Allan Macy Butler, Howard Hiatt, and David Rutstein, among other Public Health luminaries, enabling access to primary resources necessary to the study of this subject. FPHP was a part of the Center’s larger effort to chronicle the history of public health, starting with the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), its centers, and its institutes. In 2014, Heather Mumford was appointed the first Archivist for the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

  • Read our FPHP and HSPH Centennial blog posts
  • Learn more about MD, the Center's Processing Metrics Database, which was launched as part of this project to capture management data related to the processing of archival and manuscript collections to better understand and measure costs and benefits of processing to different levels. The database is still in usse, with findings published in RBM: A Journal of Rare Books, Manuscripts, and Cultural Heritage. (Chicago: Association of College and Research Libraries, Fall 2012, 13:113-128.)