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COLLECTION Identifier: 87-M155--92-M217

Papers of Vilma R. Hunt, 1952-1993


Curricula vitae, reminiscences, correspondence, etc., of Vilma R. Hunt, dentist, scientist, researcher, writer, environmental activist, and feminist.


  • Creation: 1952-1993

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Vilma R. Hunt 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.

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


7.21 linear feet ((7 cartons, 1/2 file box) plus 3 folio+ folders)

These papers yield very little information about Vilma R. Hunt's family or her personal life. They do provide information about her professional life, especially her involvement in the field of industrial hygiene and her teaching career. They document the many conferences she attended, and her participation in environmental, labor, and feminist organizations. Organizational material and publications and mailings from organizations with which Hunt was affiliated are mainly in Series II; some newsletters were transferred to the Schlesinger Library periodical file.

Series I, Personal and Biographical (#1-8), consists of Hunt's reminiscences, curricula vitae, descriptions of the papers in the collection, a photographic portrait, membership certificates, and the "Hunt Dossier," documents in support of her promotion to full professor.

Series II, Organizations, institutions, subjects (#9-226). Most of the sections in this series were labelled, and arranged alphabetically, by Hunt (within each section, the arrangement by the processor is chronological). Hunt's arrangement has been preserved by the processor, and includes the following subjects and agencies: Abortion, American Association of University Women, Citizen's Clearinghouse for Hazardous Waste (CCHW), Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW), [United States] Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Harvard University, Love Canal, Ontario (Canada), Clara G. Schiffer, and Women's Equity Action League (WEAL).

The series contains correspondence, reports, surveys, programs, agendas, minutes, conference and workshop material, printed items, etc. The Citizen's Clearinghouse for Hazardous Waste papers include correspondence, publications, board minutes, etc. For a history of the organization see #54. The occupational health and safety surveys (#91-100) in the Coalition of Labor Union Women section supply data on the working conditions and health status of women workers. The Harvard University section (#109-151) includes Radcliffe College, Radcliffe Institute, School of Public Health, Yale University, and the John B. Pierce Foundation. Hunt grouped these papers together because her research at these institutions was closely related, and her associations with them overlapped chronologically.

The section titled Clara G. Schiffer consists mainly of correspondence between Hunt and Clara G. Schiffer. The last section, WEAL, among other things documents affirmative action issues at Pennsylvania State University.

The descriptions supplied by Hunt (see #2, pages 1-5) of the material in Series II are helpful but the researcher is warned that other material on the same or related subjects also appears in Series III, IV, and V.

Series III, Correspondence (#227-297), is divided into two sections: one, correspondence grouped by subject, organization, and individuals, and arranged alphabetically; two, correspondence arranged chronologically. In the latter section letters found fastened together were kept together and arranged according to the date of the earliest item.

The series includes correspondence about Hunt's participation in conferences, as well as conference material. Correspondence also appears in the other four series.

Series IV, Conferences, workshops, etc. (#298-352), is arranged chronologically by the date of each event; it consists of Hunt presentations and notes, programs, lists, and correspondence. The inventory lists only the date of each event, not the dates of related papers; #298 lists each occasion and its sponsor.

Series V, Writings and related items (#353-374), has two sections. The first consists of Hunt proposals, articles, and papers (some in draft form), with related correspondence; an interview with Hunt about occupational hazards for pregnant workers; and her testimony at a Department of Labor hearing. The second consists of writings by others. Each section is arranged chronologically by the date of the written work, though some folders include material dated earlier or later.

Although the collection is divided into five series, some types of material--notably correspondence, writings, and conference materials--are found in all the series; some subjects (e.g. women's health, pollution) are addressed in more than one series. Researchers are therefore advised to read both the introduction and the inventory with care. Folder headings in quotation marks are the donors.

In #153, 160, 163-65, 167-69, documents with genetic information about particular individuals have been copied. Identifying information has been obliterated on the copies and the originals have been destroyed.


Vilma Rose Hunt, dentist, scientist, researcher, writer, environmental activist and feminist, was born on November 15, 1926, in Sydney, Australia, the daughter of Margaret Rose (Lynch) and William Dalton-Webb. When she was seven years old the family moved to Kempsey, New South Wales, where she attended public school and was an outstanding student and athlete. After graduating from high school (1942) she did a post-graduate year and volunteer war work until she was old enough to serve in the women's branch of the Australian Air Force.

In 1946 Hunt was awarded a Commonwealth Scholarship and entered the University of Sydney Dental School. She graduated in 1950 and practiced in New Zealand for two years before moving to the United States. At the Forsyth Dental Infirmary (Boston, Massachusetts) Hunt met Edward Eyre Hunt; they were married in 1952 and had four children. Edward Eyre Hunt died in 1991.

In 1985, Hunt wrote, "My research for the past 25 years has dealt with radium, polonium and radiation standards from the vantage points of radiation chemistry, radiation biology and occupational health." Her busy professional life is reflected in the following chronology.

  1. 1950: Bachelor of Dental Surgery (B.D.S.), University of Sydney
  2. 1950-1952: Junior Dental Officer, Department of Health, New Zealand; Private practice
  3. 1952: Gave her first public lecture on dental training, Harvard University
  4. 1952-1953: Intern, Forsyth Dental Infirmary, Boston, Massachusetts.
  5. 1955-1956: Instructor, Human Anatomy and General Biology, Endicott Junior College, Beverly, Massachusetts.
  6. 1958: A.M. in Physical Anthropology, Radcliffe College
  7. 1961-1963: Scholar, Radcliffe Institute for Independent Study (later Bunting Institute)
  8. 1962-1966: Research Fellow, then Research Associate, in Physiology, Harvard School of Public Health
  9. 1963: Completed summer sessions in radiation biology, Argonne National Laboratory, Illinois
  10. 1964: Elected to Phi Beta Kappa (honoris causa)
  11. 1966-1969: Assistant Fellow, then Research Associate (Physiology), John B. Pierce Foundation Laboratory, New Haven, Connecticut.
  12. 1967-1969: Assistant Professor of Environmental Health, Yale University School of Medicine
  13. 1969-1972: Assistant, then Associate, Professor of Environmental Health, Pennsylvania State University
  14. 1972: Granted tenure at Pennsylvania State University; Did research in New Guinea
  15. 1976: W.K. Kellogg Foundation Fellow
  16. 1978-1979: On Science Advisory Board, United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Washington, D.C.
  17. 1979-1981: Deputy Assistant Administrator for Health Research, Office of Research and Development, EPA
  18. 1982-1985: Professor of Environmental Health, Pennsylvania State University
  19. 1984: Mellon Research Fellow, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  20. 1985: Retired from Pennsylvania State University; National Endowment for the Humanities award
  21. 1985- : Consultant in environmental and occupational health; Visiting Lecturer, Harvard School of Public Health, Environmental Science and Physiology; Adjunct Faculty, University of Massachusetts at Lowell, Work Environment Laboratory; Adjunct Faculty, National University of Taiwan School of Medicine

During these years, and after her retirement, Hunt also traveled widely in the United States and other countries, researching, lecturing, consulting, serving on panels, and presenting papers; was active in professional, feminist, and environmental organizations; and published extensively. More biographical information is available in this collection.


The papers are divided into five series, largely reflecting the way Vilma R. Hunt herself grouped them:

  1. I. Personal and biographical
  2. II. Organizations, institutions, subjects
  3. III. Correspondence
  4. IV. Conferences, workshops, etc.
  5. V. Writings and related items

Physical Location

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

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 87-M155, 90-M203, 92-M138, 92-M217

These papers were given to the Schlesinger Library by Vilma R. Hunt between September 1987 and December 1992.

Related Material:

There is related material at the Schlesinger Library; see Vilma R. Hunt Additional papers, 1836-2013 (MC 807).

There is related material at the Schlesinger Library; see the Bledsoe-Herrick Family Papers, 1750-1964 (MC 290).

There is related material at the Schlesinger Library; see the Louise Fox Connell Papers, 1904-1986 (MC 386).

There is related material at the Schlesinger Library; see the Herrick-Hunt Family Papers, 1913-1951 (2000-M96).

There is related material at the Schlesinger Library; see the Margaret R. Hunt Papers, 1967-1998 (2000-M110--2000-M171).


The following item has been removed from the collection and deposited in the Charles C. Wise, Jr. Library, West Virginia University, April 1993:

  1. Mountain Life and Work - 4 issues December 1977, June, July, September 1978

The following item has been removed from the collection and deposited in the New York Public Library (Periodicals), March 25, 1993:

  1. The Call, vol.4, no.3 (Chicago, Illinois)

The following items have been removed from the collection and deposited in the Schlesinger Library (Periodicals), May 1993:

  1. Various newsletters


  1. Box 1: 1-42
  2. Box 2: 43-92
  3. Box 3: 93-139
  4. Box 4: 140-191
  5. Box 5: 192-249
  6. Box 6: 250-297
  7. Box 7: 298-365
  8. Box 8: 366-374

Processing Information

Preliminary inventory: May 1993

By: Bert Hartry

Hunt, Vilma R.. Papers of Vilma R. Hunt, 1952-1993: A Finding Aid
Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
Language of description
The collection was processed under a grant from Clara G. Schiffer.

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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