Public Health at Yale, 1880s-1960

Epidemiology at Yale, 1930s-1960

Epidemiology and Public Health, 1960-2001

Cushing/Whitney Medical Library

Historical Library


Epidemiology and Public Health at Yale: A Yale Tercentennial Exhibit

The Laboratory of Epidemiology and Public Health (LEPH)

Epidemiology and Public Health at Yale: A Yale Tercentennial Exhibit, was on display in the rotunda of the Cushing/Whitney Medical Library from September through November 2001. The exhibit is in three sections, the first on the teaching of public health at Yale in the late 19th century and the creation of the Department of Public Health in 1915, the second on the independent development of the Section of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine in the Department of Medicine, and the third on the union of these to form Epidemiology and Public Health, a department of the Medical School as well as an accredited school of public health.

The original exhibit was prepared by Toby Appel, Historical Librarian, with the assistance Matthew Wilcox, EPH Librarian. Toby Appel, Mona Florea, and Gillian Mayman prepared the Web adaptation.


Public Health at Yale, 1880s-1960

The Department of Public Health at Yale, the predecessor to Epidemiology and Public Health, was founded in 1915. Previously, the medical school had an active bacteriological laboratory, and both bacteriology and sanitary science were part of the Medical School curriculum. Irving Fisher, professor of political economy, suggested in 1907 that with the combined resources of the Medical School, the Sheffield Scientific School, and the Department of Economics, Yale could offer a program to train health officers for work in public health. A proposal was drafted by Fisher, George Blumer, professor of medicine, and Lafayette B. Mendel, professor of physiological chemistry, but was rejected as too unfocused.

In 1914, in response to the fundraising campaign at the Centennial of the Medical School, the family of Anna M.R. Lauder donated the then large sum of $500,000 to endow a chair of public health. The recipient was to be a physician who would be an advocate for public health and lead the reform of the Board of Health and public health legislation in the state of Connecticut. Charles-Edward Amory Winslow was appointed to the Anna M.R. Lauder Chair of Public Health in 1915.


William Henry Brewer, early lecturer on public health

William Henry Brewer, professor of agriculture in the Sheffield Scientific School at Yale, lectured on sanitary science and public health at the Medica1 School, from 1886 to 1898. Former dean, Charles A. Lindsley, lectured on these subjects from 1899 to 1906.


Bacteriology Laboratory at the Medical School, turn of the century

The bacteriological laboratory in the Medical School at 150 York Street also functioned as a hygienic laboratory for the Connecticut State Board of Health. Testing of water supplies and laboratory research related to water pollution and typhoid fever, a water-borne disease, was carried out by Charles A. Lindsley, former dean then serving as Secretary of the State Board of Health, Dean Herbert E. Smith, Samuel Williston, Thomas C. Lee, and Charles J. Foote. Later Charles Bartlett examined milk supplies for the New Haven Board of Health. This photograph was taken before 1909.


Charles-Edward Amory Winslow (1877-1957)
First Chairman, Department of Public Health, 1915-1945

C.-E. A. Winslow was appointed Yale's first Chairman of Public Health and first holder of the Anna M.R. Lauder Professorship in 1915. The Lauder bequest had specified that the recipient should be a physician who would be an advocate for public health and who, specifically, would reform public health in Connecticut. Although Winslow was not a physician, he was an ideal choice to carry out the terms of the donors. He had received a B.A. in 1898 and a M.S. in 1910, under William H. Sedgwick, an American pioneer in bacteriology and sanitary science. Before coming to Yale, Winslow had held teaching posts at MIT and the College of the City of New York, served as curator of public health at the American Museum of Natural History, and was in charge of public affairs for the New York City Board of Health under Herman Biggs. Winslow's department at Yale served as a catalyst for health reform in Connecticut and led the drive to transform the State Board of Health into a Department of Health. A world-renowned public health authority and a proponent of social medicine, Winslow influenced health policies locally, nationally, and internationally through his health surveys, writings, and committee work. He wrote nearly 600 books and articles on bacteriology, sanitation, public health, and health care administration and served as editor of the American Journal of Bacteriology later as editor of the American Journal of Public Health.


Department of Public Health under Winslow

Through most of the period, the department consisted of Winslow, an assistant, Ira Hiscock, and support staff, but Winslow recruited people from other departments to offer courses. Winslow taught medical students as part of the medical school curriculum, undergraduates, and graduate students. The department offered a Certificate of Public Health after a one-year course and a Doctorate of Public Health for amore advanced training. While Winslow was successful in recruiting non-physicians for the C.P.H. (later the M.P.H.) program, he was disappointed in not being able to entice Yale medical students to enter public health. Community service was part of the mission of the Department. Winslow led the campaign to transform the State Board of Health into a State Department of Health.

This article by Winslow, which appeared in the Yale Alumni Weekly in 1923, features an illustration of Nathan Smith Hall, home of the Department from 1919 to 1928. Formerly the private Elm City Hospital, Nathan Smith Hall, located at 32 Park Street, was later used as a dormitory for the Yale School of Nursing.



Public Health Survey of New Haven, 1917

In 1917, Winslow directed a public health survey of New Haven, the beginning of many community surveys in Connecticut and throughout the country conducted by Winslow and his successor, Ira V. Hiscock.


Ira V. Hiscock, Chairman of the Department of Public Health, 1945-1960

Ira Vaughan Hiscock's appointment as Chairman and Anna M.R. Lauder Professor of Public Health by the Yale Corporation in 1945 was a victory for Winslow. Francis Blake, John Paul, and others in the Medical School had hoped to appoint someone more oriented to epidemiology and laboratory work. But a committee selected by Yale President Charles Seymour favored Winslow's disciple, Hiscock, a member of the Department of Public Health faculty since 1920. Hiscock graduated from Wesleyan University, where he cmae under the influence of bacteriologist Herbert W. Conn, and received a Certificate of Public Health from Yale in 1921. Like Winslow, Hiscock became a national and international authority on public health administration, and directed numerous health surveys of communities in Connecticut and around the country. He was commissioner of the New Haven Boartd of Health from 1928 to 1958.


Scrapbook on Ira Hiscock

This scrapbook of newspaper clippings collected by or for Ira V. Hiscock illustrates the many health surveys and community public activities that Hiscock engaged in. While many of his surveys involved Connecticut towns, Hiscock also traveled far afield. The two pages of clippings shown report on Hiscock's public health survey of Hawaii in 1935.

Lent by the EPH Library.


Brady and Lauder Halls, home of the Department of Public Health, 1928

The Department of Public Health moved from Nathan Smith Hall to newly renovated quarters on the second floor of Brady Memorial Laboratory and the attached Lauder Hall in 1928.


John B. Pierce Laboratory, 1933

The John B. Pierce Laboratory, founded through the will of the philanthropist John B. Pierce, was intended to advance research and education in the general area of heating, ventilation, and sanitation. Its building on 230 Congress Avenue, specially designed for environmental testing, was opened in 1933. C.-E.A. Winslow was its first director. Although the Laboratory is independent, it has always had a close affiliation with the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health. Lawrence E. Marks, professor of epidemiology and public health, is the current director. Its research of its members has been chiefly in the area of environmental health.


Faculty and Students of the Department of Public Health, 1946

Ira Hiscock is in the first row, fifth from the left. To his left is C.-E. A. Winslow. John Paul, who, although a member of the Department of Medicine, also taught epidemiology to graduate students in public health, is to the far left. It may be noted that the Department of Public Health admitted African-American students at a time when neither the School of Medicine or the School of Nursing did.

The Department of Public Health functioned as a department of the Medical School and also as a fully accredited school of public health when accreditation was introduced in 1947. Instruction covered public health administration, industrial medicine, hospital administration, maternal and child health, mental hygiene, biostatistics, epidemiology, public health nursing, health education, and environmental health.