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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 637: T-370

Additional papers of Ellen K. Silbergeld, 1982-2001


Correspondence, drafts, research notes, conference materials, publications, etc., of Ellen K. Silbergeld, environmental toxicologist and research scientist.


  • Creation: 1982-2001

Language of Materials

Most materials in English; some in Spanish.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Researchers must obtain written permission from Ellen K. Silbergeld to use the collection. Originals of redacted photocopies from #2.6-14.5 are closed until January 1, 2050 and #1.6-1.14, 10.17, 11.7-11.8, 18.11-18.18, and 20.15-20.22 are closed until January 1, 2050. An appointment is necessary to use any audiovisual material.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Ellen K. Silbergeld is held by the President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Schlesinger Library. Copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns. During the lifetime of the donor, researchers must obtain the donor's prior written permission before publishing quotations.

Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.


8.34 linear feet ((20 file boxes) plus 5 audiotapes)

These addenda to the papers of Ellen K. Silbergeld were received between 1997 and 2002. Papers received earlier were processed separately (91-M129--95-M12). The collection is arranged in four series.

Series I, CORRESPONDENCE, 1982-1999 (#1.1-6.5), contains general biographical information (resume, publication lists, etc.), papers relating to the Herbert Needleman case, letters of reference and recommendation for others, MacArthur Foundation grant congratulatory letters, and general administrative and professional correspondence. The Needleman papers include letters, reports, petitions, clippings, and related material focused on friend and colleague Herbert Needleman's scientific misconduct case, stemming from his data on lead toxicology. Correspondence contains letters, memos, faxes, and printed e-mails that address environmental toxicological issues (lead, dioxins, mercury, carcinogens, porphyria, etc.). Correspondents include colleagues, research students, concerned citizens, congressional members, lawyers, editors, committee and organizational leaders, and others from across the United States and abroad. Topics covered include speaking engagements, conference preparation, meeting updates, scientific discussions, congressional hearings, professional reviews, editorials, publications, legislation, interviews, etc. Related material is also included (petitions, notes, edited drafts, statistical data, printed matter and clippings, etc.).

Series II, TESTIMONIES, CONFERENCES, MEETINGS, ETC., 1989-2001 (#6.6-15.8, 19.1-19.16, 20.1-20.14, T-370.1-T-370.5), contains material from congressional hearings in which Silbergeld provided testimony, as well as material from several domestic and international conferences, committees, seminars, symposiums, etc. Papers related to congressional testimonies include transcripts, reports, notes, drafts, etc., for hearings on issues of environmental toxins (including Agent Orange, Gulf War Syndrome, childhood lead poisoning, etc.). Materials from conferences, etc., include correspondence, itineraries, schedules, agendas, notes, working drafts, abstracts, minutes, reports, resolutions, program guides, planning and presentation material, clippings, etc. Also included are audiotapes from the Open College program on CJRT FM 91.1 radio (Canada). Silbergeld provides brief interviews on issues of lead toxins for the segment entitled, "The Environment: Issues and Options for Action," which was broadcast in 1991. Related material on testimonies, conferences, etc., is also found in the general correspondence.

Series III, PUBLICATIONS, 1989-1997 (#15.9-18.10), contains material related to several of Silbergeld's published works. Included are correspondence, working drafts, research notes, graphics, statistical data, contracts, etc. The processor assigned numbers to drafts within folders (e.g., draft 1, draft 2, draft 3, etc.) to distinguish them from one another; they do not reflect the order of creation of the edited revisions. Also included is a collection of clippings (miscellaneous articles written by or about Silbergeld and her work). Related material on publications is also found in the general correspondence.

Series IV, REVIEWS, 1990-1999 (#18.11-18.18, 20.15-20.22), contains reviews and assessments of project proposals and research studies for several government agencies, private industries, and related publications which include drafts of the proposed projects and studies; test results; Silbergeld's comments, recommendations, and edits; and correspondence.

The few photographs in this collection will not be cataloged in VIA, Harvard University's Visual Information Access database. Referred to as "uncataloged" photographs, they are not of sufficient research interest to warrant cataloging and are simply treated as part of the documents they accompany; they are marked on the back with an asterisk in square brackets [*].


Ellen (Kovner) Silbergeld, daughter of Joseph and Mary (Gion) Kovner, was born in Washington, D.C., on July 29, 1945. In 1969, she married Alan Mark Silbergeld; they have two children: Sophia and Nicholas. Silbergeld has degrees in history from Vassar College (A.B. 1967) and in environmental engineering sciences from Johns Hopkins University (Ph.D. 1972). She has been a professor of Epidemiology and Toxicology at the University of Maryland Medical School in Baltimore, Maryland, an adjunct professor of Health Policy and Environmental Health Sciences at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, an affiliate professor of Environmental Law at the University of Maryland Law School, and a senior toxicologist with the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). She is also the author or coauthor of over 200 scientific articles, book chapters, and abstracts, and has served on editorial boards of biomedical journals and more than thirty national and international scientific and expert panels. These have included state and federal government agencies, the World Health Organization (WHO), and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Silbergeld has received fellowships from the Fulbright, Kennedy, Rockefeller, Danforth, and the Woodrow Wilson Foundations and was a recipient of the MacArthur Foundation "genius grant" in 1993. Her research interests have focused on mechanisms and epidemiology of lead poisoning and on mechanisms of other environmental toxicants, including dioxin. Areas of research include cardiovascular risks of arsenic, lead, and cadmium; immunotoxicity of mercury compounds; and health and environmental impacts of industrial food animal production. She has also conducted studies that involve mercury in the Amazon; lead, cadmium, and arsenic in Mexico; mining and development in Mongolia; and zoonotic diseases in Thailand and the Netherlands. Silbergeld serves on numerous national and international scientific advisory councils.


The collection is arranged in four series:

  1. Series I. Correspondence, 1982-1999 (#1.1-6.5)
  2. Series II. Testimonies, conferences, meetings, etc., 1989-2001 (#6.6-15.8, 19.1-19.16, 20.1-20.14, T-370.1-T-370.5)
  3. Series III. Publications, 1989-1997 (#15.9-18.10)
  4. Series IV. Reviews, 1990-1999 (#18.11-18.18, 20.15-20.22)

Physical Location

Collection stored off site: researchers must request access 36 hours before use.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 97-M68, 2002-M12, 2002-M19

These addenda to the papers of Ellen K. Silbergeld were given to the Schlesinger Library by Ellen K. Silbergeld between 1997 and 2002.

Related Material:

There is related material at the Schlesinger Library; see Ellen K. Silbergeld Papers, 1968-1994 (91-M129--95-M12).


Donors: Ellen K. Silbergeld

Accession number: 97-M68, 2002-M12, 2002-M19

Processed by: Bridgette A. Woodall

The following item has been removed from the collection and returned to the donor:

  1. Toxics and Health: The Potential Long-Term Effects of Industrial Activity, 1995

Processing Information

Processed: August 2010

By: Bridgette A. Woodall

Silbergeld, Ellen K.. Additional papers of Ellen K. Silbergeld, 1982-2001: A Finding Aid
Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
Language of description
Processing of this collection was made possible by a gift from the Foundation for Worker, Veteran and Environmental Health, Inc.

Repository Details

Part of the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute Repository

The preeminent research library on the history of women in the United States, the Schlesinger Library documents women's lives from the past and present for the future. In addition to its traditional strengths in the history of feminisms, women’s health, and women’s activism, the Schlesinger collections document the intersectional workings of race and ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and class in American history.

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