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COLLECTION Identifier: P-DE01, Series 00322

Harvard School of Public Health. Office of the Dean records


The Harvard School of Public Health Office of the Dean executive administrative files, 1913-1996 (inclusive) are the product of the administrative activities of Deans’ offices through the history of the Harvard School of Public Health.


  • 1913-1996

Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. Access requires advance notice. Consult Public Services for further information.

Access to Harvard University records is restricted for 50 years from the date of creation. Access to patient, personnel, and student records is restricted for 80 years from the date of creation. The end of the restricted period is noted with each folder. Researchers may apply for access to restricted records. Consult Public Services for further information.

Conditions Governing Use

The Harvard Medical Library does not hold copyright on all materials in the collection. Researchers are responsible for identifying and contacting any third-party copyright holders for permission to reproduce or publish. For more information on the Center's use, publication, and reproduction policies, view our Reproductions and Use Policy.


80.6 cubic feet (62 records center cartons, 1 letter size document box, 2 oversize boxes)

The Harvard School of Public Health. Office of the Dean records are the product of the administrative activities of the dean of the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH). The records are arranged in two series: I. Early deans’ records, 1913-1996; II. Howard H. Hiatt records, 1961-1985.

Early deans’ records (Series I) consist of minutes, reports, publications, and other materials produced in the course of administrative functions of multiple deans’ offices through the history of the Harvard School of Public Health. There are also materials produced by other offices, departments, and programs.

Howard H. Hiatt records (Series II) consist of administrative materials created during the tenure of Howard H. Hiatt as dean from 1972 to 1984. Types of material include annual reports and questionnaires; policy and procedures development documents; and planning and proposal records.

Materials are entirely in English.

Administrative History

The Harvard-Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) School for Health Officers was founded in 1913 by a group of faculty including George C. Whipple (1866-1924), William T. Sedgwick (1855-1921), and Milton J. Rosenau (1869-1946). The School offered classes in three subject areas: preventive medicine (Rosenau), biological science (Sedgwick), and sanitary engineering (Whipple). Students applying to the School were required to have some previous medical experience, although the requirements were deliberately made flexible to accommodate as many applicants as possible. The program was intended to be short and appealing to those already working in the field of public health. Classes were offered at the Harvard Medical School Longwood campus in Boston, Massachusetts, the Harvard University Cambridge, Massachusetts campus and the MIT campus on Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge. The School originally granted a Certificate in Public Health and had only a single salaried staff member. All faculty members were associated Harvard or MIT and their courses were already part of their regular teaching schedule.

During World War I, the School held special training sessions in war bacteriology and industrial sanitation, among other subjects, and accepted special students from the Office of the Surgeon General of the United States Army. Various members of the faculty participated in the war effort, including Richard P. Strong (1872-1949), Milton J. Rosenau, Walter B. Cannon (1871-1945), Richard C. Cabot (1868-1939), and, after the war, Alice Hamilton (1869-1970).

In 1918, the school became the Harvard-MIT School of Public Health. A semi-independent program in industrial hygiene which accepted doctoral candidates was also formed. The Rockefeller Foundation gave the School a new grant of just under $2 million in 1921. After receiving that grant, the formalized Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) officially opened in 1922. Instead of groups of classes, HSPH now had formalized departments, and planned to offer bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in public health instead of certificates. Administration shifted to Harvard, although MIT faculty continued to teach courses. A formal Committee on Organization, organized by Harvard’s President Abbott Lowell (1856-1943) and headed by Roger I. Lee (1881-1965), oversaw the transition. HSPH at this time was closely connected to Harvard Medical School (HMS); David Edsall (1869-1945), the first Dean, held a joint deanship with HMS from 1922 to 1935. Many faculty appointments were also held in common.

Cecil K. Drinker (1887-1956) was the first Dean of HSPH not to have a joint deanship with HMS. His tenure was from 1935 to 1942. During World War II, HSPH undertook special programs at the request of the United States government, such as special clinics in venereal diseases and short-term courses in aviation medicine. HSPH also allowed leave for faculty members who either entered military service or were requested for special service, including John E. Gordon (1890-1983, epidemiology), Harold C. Stuart (1891-1976, pediatrics), John R. Mote (1907-1980, tropical medicine), and LeRoy D. Fothergill (1901-1967, bacteriology). HSPH faculty served in a variety of roles in the United States, United Kingdom, and Europe during the conflict. As a result, the HSPH itself did not have a full faculty for much of the war, even as student numbers rose steadily. Requests for special programs also increased.

Edward G. Huber (1882-1946) served as acting Dean from 1942 to 1946. Huber was responsible for the organization of the alumni association. HSPH underwent a major reorganization starting in 1944, designed to disentangle it from HMS. The committee in charge of the reorganization issued a report with recommendations for individual departments, suggested changes and enlargements in physical plant, and discussed the future recruitment strategies for faculty and students. In 1945, HSPH received a million-dollar grant from the Rockefeller Foundation. HSPH was guaranteed ‘co-equal’ financial and organizational status with the HMS as one of the grant conditions. Departments were reorganized, in some cases renamed, and joint faculty appointments were discontinued.

James S. Simmons (1890-1954) served as dean from 1946 to 1954. The American Public Health Association, which established accreditation standards for higher education in public health in 1945, granted the HSPH full accreditation in 1946. John C. Snyder (1911-2002) succeeded Simmons as dean, serving in the position from 1954 to 1971. Much activity at HSPH in this period was based around the renovation and expansion of the physical plant. Major grants came from the Rockefeller Foundation, the Wellcome Trust, the National Institutes of Health, and the Kresge Foundation. The period also saw an expansion in faculty at all levels, including untenured positions.

Richard H. Daggy (1915-2006) served as interim dean from 1971 to 1972, and Howard H. Hiatt (1925-) was appointed in 1972, serving until 1984. The President’s Committee to Study the Future of the Harvard School of Public Health was commissioned by Harvard University President Derek C. Bok in 1971. Under Hiatt’s leadership and at the instigation of Bok, HSPH underwent extensive examination and reorganization in the early 1970s. This included in-depth study of those associated with HSPH, including faculty, staff, current students, and alumni. HSPH had been focused on training students for state or local public health departments, and this changed to more interdisciplinary work.

Deans following Hiatt include: Harvey V. Fineberg (1945-, dean 1984-1997), James H. Ware (1941-2016, acting dean 1997-1998), Barry R. Bloom (1937-, dean 1999-2008), Julio Frenk (1953-, dean 2009-2015), David Hunter (acting dean, 2015-2016), Michelle A. Williams (1962-, dean 2016-2023), Jane J. Kim (interim dean 2023), and Andrea Baccarelli (1970-, dean 2024-). HSPH has continued to develop professional and continuing education programs, including special centers of study and study courses and short programs for public health professionals. In 2015, HSPH was renamed the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, in honor of T.H. Chan and after a $350 million gift from the Morningside Foundation, established by Chan’s family.


  1. I. Early deans’ records, 1913-1996 (inclusive) 1940-1981 (bulk)
  2. I.A. Executive administrative files, 1913-1996 (inclusive) 1940-1981 (bulk)
  3. II. Howard H. Hiatt records, 1961-1985 (inclusive)
  4. II.A. Executive administrative files, 1961-1985 (inclusive)

Immediate Source of Acquisition

  1. Accession number 2010-044. Transferred from Harvard Medical School, Office of the Dean. 11 January 2010.
  2. Accession number 2022-043. Transferred from the Harvard School of Public Health, Office of the Dean. Date unknown.

Related records from other repositories

Processing Information

Processed by Michael Dello Iacono, 2010 May. Second accession processing by Rebecca C. Thayer, 2023 September.

The Howard H. Hiatt records were processed by Michael Dello Iacono in May 2010. Processing staff in the Center for the History of Medicine analyzed, arranged, and described the records and created a finding aid to improve access to the collection.

Rebecca Thayer updated the finding aid in 2023 to add the Early deans’ records, which were originally part of the Early School of Public Health records (E72). Thayer changed the title of the existing records from Harvard School of Public Health. Office of the Dean records to Howard H. Hiatt records. Thayer modified the finding aid structure to add series to demonstrate the separate provenance of the Howard H. Hiatt records and the Early deans’ records. Heather Mumford changed the former call number (Series 00139) of the Howard H. Hiatt records to Series 00322 to reflect the assigning of these records to the executive administrative files series of the General Records Schedule.

Harvard School of Public Health. Office of the Dean records, 1913-1996 (inclusive): Finding Aid P-DE01 Series 00322
Michael Dello Iacono; Rebecca C. Thayer
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
The Howard H. Hiatt records, Harvard School of Public Health, were processed with grant funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, as awarded and administered by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR), 2009.

Repository Details

Part of the Center for the History of Medicine (Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine) Repository

The Center for the History of Medicine in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine is one of the world's leading resources for the study of the history of health and medicine. Our mission is to enable the history of medicine and public health to inform healthcare, the health sciences, and the societies in which they are embedded.

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