The Liz Library presents Irene Stuber's Women of Achievement

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February 27

Compiled and Written by Irene Stuber.

Who was Dr. Alice Hamilton


QUOTE by Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

Dr. Alice Hamilton

      [A girl, 11, emailed me to ask for information about someone named Dr. Alice Hamilton. Her teacher knew nothing about her, the encyclopedias weren't much help, and her classmates were feeling sorry for her for having drawn such an unknown person for her "Women's History" assignment.
      Unknown... How could such a giant in the fields of pathology and industrial medicine be so completely erased from our HIStories so that in less than a half century, she is a no one. -- IS]

      Dr. Alice Hamilton single-handedly developed industrial toxicology and fought in the courts, before Congress, and in legislatures for safer working conditions for workers who were dying or being crippled by the poisons and noxious chemicals used in manufacturing... an accomplishment which ranks among the greatest life-saving practices of all medicine.
      Born February 27, 1869, Dr. Alice Hamilton, pioneer in industrial toxicology. Her mother encouraged her daughter in opposition to the rest of the extended family. Her older sister Edith Hamilton is the writer famed for her works on mythology.
      AH is quoted as saying, "For me the satisfaction is that things are better now, and I had some part in it." She was one of the two greatest authorities on industrial poisonings extant in the world at the time, a field she practically invented.
      Her Industrial Poisons in the United States (1925) was the first U.S. text on the subject, and Industrial Toxicology (1934) one of the great standards. However, she was not just an academic, she worked in the field and went into mines and campaigned vigorously before government bodies.
      In 1919, AH became assistant professor of industrial medicine at the Harvard Medical School (after 1925 at the School of Public Health) "because there was no one else in my field," and in 1935 became professor emeritus. She was Harvard's first woman professor and was barred from entering the Harvard Club, from marching in commencement, and from claiming her quota of football tickets because she was a woman. Harvard did not admit women as students until 1945.
      She was also recognized as one of the world's great authorities on bacteriology. She was the first woman to receive the prestigious Lasker Award from the American Public Health department.
      [Continued in WOA 02-28: Revealing the "unknown" Dr. Alice Hamilton.]

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B. 02-27-1847, Ellen Terry, one of the most famous stage actresses of the English-speaking world.

B. 02-27-1850, Laura Elizabeth Howe Richard, author of nearly 80 books including Captain January which sold 300,000 copies. Daughter of Julia Ward Howe, her autobiography is Stepping Westward (1931).

B. 02-27-1865, Mary Frances Isom, remarkable librarian who helped make library service a reality for the people of Portland, Oregon and the surrounding area. During World War I she organized libraries for various military areas as well as in France.

B. 02-27-1869, Alice Hamilton, first woman to study pathology and who created the new medical field of industrial disease. Her efforts pioneered legislation to protect industrial workers. She was the first woman named to the Harvard Medical School.

B. 02-27-1888, Lotte Lehmann, German-American lyric-dramatic soprano and writer. She was barred from her native Germany because she refused to cooperate with the Nazis. LL wrote several memoirs and musical interpretations.

B. 02-27-1907, Mildred Bailey, one of the better band singers of the big band era. Tagged Mr. and Mrs. Swing she led a band with her husband Red Norvo, did solo vocals, and had her own radio show.

B. 02-27-1930, Joanne Woodward, won Academy award for best actress, The Three Faces of Eve (1957) and nominated for several others. Won several Emmys for her TV work.

B. 02-27-1932, Elizabeth Taylor, a complex and headline grabbing private life and her violet eyes in a exquisite face, often eclipses the fact that she has won two Academy Awards for best actress: Butterfield 8 (1960) and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf (1966) and been nominated three other times. Helped form pioneer AIDS-fighting organization Am-Far and is a cosmetic executive. Her mother was actress Sara Sothern.

B. 02-27-1936, Sonya Johnson, excommunicated from the Mormon Church for supporting the Equal Rights Amendment for women. Become a social activist for women's rights and a writer of feminist literature.

B. 02-27 (year unknown) Helen Kim, president of EWHA College, Seoul, Korea 1938-1961.

B. 02-27-1980, Chelsea Clinton, daughter of President Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton.

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      "But standing alone we learned our power; we repudiated man's counsels forevermore and solemnly vowed that there should never be another season of silence until we had the same rights everywhere on this green earth, as man."
            -- Elizabeth Cady Stanton in The History of Woman Suffrage.

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© 1990-2006 Irene Stuber, Hot Springs National Park, AR 71902. Originally web-published at We are indebted to Irene Stuber for compiling this collection and for granting us permission to make it available again. The text of the documents may be freely copied for nonprofit educational use. Except as otherwise noted, all contents in this collection are © 1998-2009 the liz library.  All rights reserved. This site is hosted and maintained by the liz library.