American Museum of Natural History Department of Public Health exhibits papers, 1914-1916
Scope and Contents
The papers in this collection include letters to and from its first curator, Dr. Charles Edward Amory Winslow, letters to and from other employees of the Department of Public Health, and related documents concerned mainly with creating permanent exhibits in the new department. The exhibits and the letters make clear that the focus of the new department was on the involvement of the citizens of New York City in their own health, a focus which was a ground breaking effort for its time. Exhibits include as Insect Born Diseases, Military Hygiene, Water Purification, and Food and Health. Large, exact models of the fly, the flea, the mosquito and the louse enhanced the exhibits.
- 1914 - 1916
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Access Conditions and Restrictions
Requests to use the collection should be made in advance to the Senior Special Collections Librarian, who may be contacted at 212-769-5420 or at [email protected]
The International Tuberculosis Exhibition at the American Museum of Natural History in 1908 drew 750,000 visitors during its seven-week run. The Museum had to remain open for 13 hours on weekdays and had to hire 50 guards to manage crowd control. The success of the exhibit stimulated H. F. Osborn, President of the American Museum of Natural History, to inaugurate the Department of Public Health “…not only to spread the knowledge of nature, but of nature in relation to man.”
1910 - Department of Public Health is created. Dr. C.E.A Winslow appointed Curator.
1911 - Winslow begins large study collection of bacteria, allowing AMNH to serve as central bureau for preservation and distribution of bacterial cultures to researchers. Work on exhibits begins.
1911-1915 - Exhibits continue to be created, e.g. Insect Borne Diseases, Military Hygiene, Water Supply Sanitation, Food Exhibit.
1918 - Large model of yellow fever mosquito completed and added to models of malaria mosquito, fly, louse.
1920 - Winslow recommends creation of The Natural History of Man exhibit, the basis for an ongoing series of permanent exhibits including The Hall of the Age of Man (1922), The Hall of the Natural History of Man (ca.1943), The Hall of Human Biology and Evolution (ca. 1992) and hh
1922 - Winslow continues to work on The Natural History of Man until his services were discontinued in March, 1922. He finds new home for the bacteria collection at the Army Medical Museum in Washington, D. C. The Department of Public Health is subsumed under the museum’s Department of Public Education.
CHARLES EDWARD AMORY WINSLOW
Dr. Winslow was a pioneer in the beginning of the public health movement in the early part of the twentieth century. He was a professor of Biology at the City College of New York at the same time that he became the first Curator of the Department of Public Health at the American Museum of Natural History. Just before coming to New York he had been the head of MIT’s Sewage Experimental Station.
As Curator of The Department of Public Health, he developed an important bacteria collection that was utilized by researchers as well as practitioners in the field of human health services. He was the first editor of The Journal of Bacteriology. His interest in public health and his energy toward improving it led him to support, what were at the time, major innovations: he called for organized health services, public health clinics and health insurance to be part of American life.
American Museum of Natural History, Annual Reports, 1909-1912.
American Museum of Natural History, Special Collections, Vertical Files, Department: Public Health.
American Museum of Natural History, Special Collections, Vertical Files, Winslow, C. E. A.
__________. “New Hall of Public Health,” Harlem Magazine, vol. 2, no. 1, (1913) p. 11.
Coleman, Laurence, V., A Brief Guide to Public Health Exhibits in AMNH: An outline for Teachers and Students (The Museum) 1929.
Dallet, Nancy. “The formative phase of public health education: C. E. A. Winslow’s Department of Public Health at the American Museum of Natural History, 1911-1922.” (1988).
Winslow, C-E. A. Handbook of health in war and peace: a manual of personal preparedness.
0.5 Linear Feet
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Interdepartmental transfer from AMNH Department of Education, November, 1995 with DR 055 AMNH Department of Public Education, 1906-1912 and DR 054 AMNH American Museum War Relief Association (AMWRA), 1917-1919.
Typed and handwritten notes and letters.
- American Museum of Natural History Department of Public Health exhibits papers, 1914-1916
- Blossom Gelernter, December, 2005
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- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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- The Gladys Kreible Delmas Foundation provided support to make this finding aid available in ArchivesSpace (2016-2017).
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American Museum of Natural History
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