Alice Hamilton Birthday Commemoration Address 1994 by Dr. Jacqueline Corn at US DOL
This address was the keynote of the 125th birthday commemoration by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Women's Bureau, both agencies of the US Department of Labor. Author Jacqueline Corn, Ph.D., spoke about Dr. Hamilton's work in both occupational health and the protection of working women. Dr. Corn, a leading researcher in industrial and environmental health and safety history, is an Associate Professor, The Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland. Alice Hamilton, M.D., was the first American physician to devote her life to the practice of industrial medicine.
Born into a prominent family of Fort Wayne, Indiana, she graduated from medical school at the University of Michigan in 1893. She later moved into Jane Addams' Hull House. Seeing the problems of poor working class families at close range, her compassion and professional interest were inexorably drawn to the many victims of work-related diseases and injuries. She pioneered occupational epidemiology and industrial hygiene in the United States beginning with investigations of lead poisoning among enamellers of bathtubs.
Her findings were so scientifically persuasive, that they caused sweeping reforms, both voluntary and regulatory, to reduce occupational exposure to lead. In 1919, Dr. Hamilton was appointed assistant professor of industrial medicine at Harvard Medical School, becoming the first woman on the faculty of Harvard University. A statue of Alice Hamilton sits in Headwaters Park near downtown Fort Wayne, Indiana.
For more on Dr. Hamilton's life and work, see the NIOSH website at
Her autobiography, Exploring The Dangerous Trades was published in 1943 and is available for reading and downloading from the Internet Archive at
The U.S. Department of Labor Women's Bureau, established by Congress in 1920, is the only federal agency mandated to represent the needs of wage-earning women in the public policy process. For more on the past and current work of this valuable part of the US Department of Labor, visit their website at
With the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, Congress created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to assure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance.
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