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Title    Author    Year    Contributors
 Exploring Dangerous Trades

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What Others are Saying

Exploring the Dangerous Trades

Author: Alice Hamilton

Year Published: 1943

What Others are Saying:

  • Ground breaking book in the field of occupational health.
  • The autobiography of Dr. Alice Hamilton. Hamilton's specialty, back in the early part of the 20th century, was industrial medicine (a new field whose mission was to prevent factories from poisoning their workers). By 1919, when Hamilton was hired as the first woman professor at Harvard Medical School (40 years before the university accepted women as undergraduates), she was world-renowned as a researcher in industrial medicine.That calling, starting in 1910, was researching industrial poisons and inspecting U.S. factories for hazardous conditions—a problem barely acknowledged in the United States. Hamilton scornfully describes the fatuousness of U.S. doctors, factory owners, and government authorities in "The Poisonous Occupations in Illinois," a chapter of her autobiography, Exploring the Dangerous Trades.And what dangers Americans in authority were ignoring! In the 1890s, she writes, workers endured "carbon-monoxide gassing in the great steel mills, painters [were] disabled by lead palsy, pneumonia and rheumatism [flourished] among the men in the stockyards." In the matchbook companies, workers risked the dreaded "phossy jaw, which comes . . . from breathing the fumes of white or yellow phosphorus, which penetrates into a defective tooth and down through the roots to the jawbone, killing the tissue cells which then become the prey of suppurative germs from the mouth, and abscesses form. The jaw swells and the pain is intense, for the suppuration is held in by the tight covering of the bone and cannot escape, except through a surgical operation or through a fistula boring to the surface." The book is available from the American Industrial Hygieine Association.
  • This book is the autobiography of Dr. Alice Hamilton, a pioneering physician, intellectual, and social reformer. She worked alongside Jane Addams at Hull House in Chicago where recent immigrants often worked in hazardous factories and other settings. Dr. Hamilton's vivid descriptions of the often horrific working conditions in the early 20th Century inspired many Occupational Health professionals, including myself, to continue her work. She also strongly influenced national figures such as Frances Perkins and Eleanor Roosevelt to help improve the plight of America's workers.
  • Intersting chronicle of public health & industrial hygiene in the early 20th century. The working conditions documented the need for, and eventual rise of, workers' compensation in the US. 'Personal note' - one of the books that got me interested in occupational health.
  • Alice Hamilton was a pioneering female physician who received her medical degree from the University of Michigan in 1893 and went on to become the first female faculty member at Harvard's School of Medicine. She wanted to make a difference, and in that pursuit, she went to live at Hull House and provided medical care to working class families in Chicago. There she learned of the occupational hazards and illnesses of workers and went on to make that the focus of her career. She was hired first by the State of Illinois and later by the US Bureau of Labor (predecessor to DOL) to investigate workplace hazards, such as lead poisoning. Her experiences are chronicled in this autobiography. Because of her many contributions to the field of occupational health, she is lovingly remembered as the "Mother of Occupational Medicine". I happened on her autobiography as a first year medical student, and after reading it, I knew what I wanted to do with my medical degree!!
  • Alice Hamilton, MD, first physician appointed to Harvard faculty, pioneer in epidemiology and toxicology, and activist in the settlement house movement.
  • Dr. Hamilton spent her 30 year career documenting the nature of industrial chemicals and their toxic effects on workers during the first half of the new century. The book highlights the blight of new arrived immigrants who where poisoned by lead fumes, carbon monoxide and silica dust. The book is also about the labor movement for safer healthier working conditions.


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