Live Symposia TODAY on Universities and Slavery: Bound by History

In March 2016, Harvard President Drew Gilpin Faust, in an opinion piece in the Harvard Crimson, urged the university to more fully acknowledge and understand its links to slavery, stating, “The past never dies or disappears. It continues to shape us in ways we should not try to erase or ignore.”

On March 3, 2017, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University will host a daylong conference to explore the relationship between slavery and universities, across the country and around the world.

The faculty conference organizers are Harvard professors

  • Sven Beckert, Laird Bell Professor of History
  • Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, Victor S. Thomas Professor of History and of African and African American Studies
  • Daniel Carpenter, director of the social sciences program at the Radcliffe Institute and Allie S. Freed Professor of Government

The conference builds on the Harvard and Slavery initiative, founded in 2007, in which students and faculty—led by Beckert—began a detailed examination of Harvard’s range of connections to slavery.

This event will be webcast live, in its entirety, and videos will be available online after the conference.

How to watch the live webcast

Please use the hashtag #unislavery.


9 a.m.


Lizabeth Cohen, Dean of the Radcliffe Institute and Howard Mumford Jones Professor of American Studies, Harvard University

9:15 a.m.


Drew Gilpin Faust, President of Harvard University and Lincoln Professor of History

9:30 a.m.


Ta-Nehisi Coates, Journalist, national correspondent for The Atlantic, author of Between the World and Me and The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood

Conversation between Ta-Nehisi Coates and Drew Gilpin Faust

10:30 a.m.


10:45 a.m.


Moderator: Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, Victor S. Thomas Professor of History and of African and African American Studies, Harvard University

Adam Rothman, Professor of History, Georgetown University

James T. Campbell, Edgar E. Robinson Professor in United States History, Stanford University

Craig Steven Wilder, Barton L. Weller Professor of History, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

12:15 p.m.


1:15 p.m.


Introduced by: Vincent Brown RI ’06, Charles Warren Professor of American History and Professor of African and African American Studies, Harvard University

Natasha Trethewey RI ’01, former United States Poet Laureate, Robert W. Woodruff Professor of English and Creative Writing, Emory University

1:30 p.m.


Moderator: Annette Gordon-Reed RI ’16, Charles Warren Professor of American Legal History, Harvard Law School, and Professor of History, Harvard University

Sven Beckert, Laird Bell Professor of History, Harvard University

Julian Bonder, Principal, Wodiczko + Bonder and Julian Bonder + Associates; Professor of Architecture, Roger Williams University

Daniel R. Coquillette, J. Donald Monan, S.J. University Professor, Boston College Law School

Alexandra Rahman ’12, Student contributor to the Harvard and Slavery Research Project

3 p.m.


3:15 p.m.


Moderator: Alejandro de la Fuente, Robert Woods Bliss Professor of Latin American History and Economics; Professor of African and African American Studies and of History; Director, Afro-Latin American Research Institute, Harvard University

Hilary Beckles, Vice-Chancellor of the University of the West Indies

Max Price, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cape Town

Christiane Taubira, former Minister of Justice (France)

4:45 p.m.


Daniel Carpenter, Director of the Social Sciences Program at the Radcliffe Institute; Allie S. Freed Professor of Government, Harvard University

5 p.m.


Medical and Public Health Ethics in the Shadow of the Holocaust: The Nazi Doctors, Jewish Resistance, Resilience and Survival

~This post courtesy of Lisa Mix, Head, Medical Center Archives Weill Cornell Medicine Samuel J. Wood Library & C.V. Starr Biomedical Information Center

The Heberden Society and the WCM Division of Medical Ethics jointly present: Michael A. Grodin, MD on Medical and Public Health Ethics in the Shadow of the Holocaust: The Nazi Doctors, Jewish Resistance, Resilience and Survival.

The lecture will take place on Monday, March 13, 2017, 5:00 pm at the Selma Ruben Conference Center, Weill Cornell Medical College Weill Greenberg Center, 1305 York Avenue Room A-B (2nd floor).

Michael Alan Grodin, MD, is Professor of Health Law, Ethics and Human Rights at the Boston University School of Public Health, and in the Center for Health Law, Ethics & Human Rights, and is Professor of Psychiatry and Family Medicine at the Boston University School of Medicine. He completed his B.S. degree at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, his M.D. degree at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, his postdoctoral and fellowship training at UCLA and Harvard, and he has been on the faculty of Boston University for the past 35 years. Dr. Grodin is the Medical Ethicist at Boston Medical Center and for thirteen years served as Chairman of the Institutional Review Board of the Department of Health and Hospitals of the City of Boston. He is a fellow of the Hastings Center, served on the board of directors of Public Responsibility in Medicine and Research, the American Society of Law, Medicine and Ethics, and the Advisory Board of the Center for the Philosophy and History of Science. He is a member of the Ethics Review Board of Physicians for Human Rights and co-director of Global Lawyers and Physicians: Working Together for Human Rights, a transnational NGO. He was founding director of the Boston Center for Refugee Health and Human Rights: Caring for Survivors of Torture, which received the 2002 Outstanding Achievement Award from the Political Asylum/Immigration Representation Project. Professor Grodin received a special citation from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in recognition of his “profound contributions – through original and creative research – to the cause of Holocaust education and remembrance.” He was a Member of the Global Implementation Project of the Istanbul Protocol Manual on the Effective Investigation and Documentation of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and an Advisor to UNESCO. Dr. Grodin was the 2000 Julius Silberger Scholar and recipient of the 2014 Kravetz Award as an elected member of the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute and the American Psychoanalytic Association.

Dr. Grodin has published more than 200 scholarly papers, and edited or co-edited 7 books: The Nazi Doctors and the Nuremberg Code: Human Rights in Human Experimentation, Children as Research Subjects: Science, Ethics and Law (both in the Bioethics Series of Oxford University Press); Meta-Medical Ethics: The Philosophical Foundations of Bioethics (Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science Series, Kluwer Academic Press); Health and Human Rights: A Reader (selected as 2nd of the top 10 humanitarian books of 1999); Perspectives on Health and Human Rights; and Health and Human Rights in a Changing World. His most recent book is Jewish Medical Resistance in the Holocaust. He is working on a new book, Spiritual Resistance and Rabbinic Response During the Holocaust.

The Heberden Society, which seeks to promote an interest in the history of medicine, was founded at the medical center in 1975. With funding from the Office of the Dean, the society sponsors a series of lectures during each academic year.

The History of Higher Education in California: A Big Data Approach

In his talk at the UCSF Archives & Special Collections, Zach Bleemer will discuss how he has used data science – thousands of computer-processed versions of annual registers, directories, and catalogs –  to reconstruct a near-complete database of all students, faculty, and courses at four-year universities in California in the first half of the 20th century, including UC San Francisco (which taught both undergraduates and graduate students at the time). Visualizations of this database display the expansion of higher education into rural California communities, the rise and fall of various academic departments and disciplines, and the slow (and still-incomplete) transition towards egalitarian major selection.
Zach will also discuss his recent CSHE Working Paper, in which he uses additional digitized records to analyze the social impact of the early 20th century’s expansion of female high school science teachers and female doctors across rural California communities. He finds that newly-arrived female STEM professionals serve as important role models for young women in these rural communities, causing substantial increases in female college-going. However, these young women are no more likely to study STEM fields or become doctors themselves.
Zach Bleemer is a PhD student in Economics and Digital Humanities Fellow at UC Berkeley, where his research examines the educational and occupational decisions of young Americans. He has previously held senior research analyst positions at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and Mathematica PolicyResearch, and has published working papers on student debt, parental coresidence, and university attendance. He is also currently a Research Associate at UC Berkeley’s Center for Studies in Higher Education and a Visiting Scholar at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.

Register for the talk which will take place Friday, March 3, from 12-1.15pm.

The Roles of Physicians in 19th Century Polar Exploration

Please join the New York Academy of Medicine on Wednesday, February 1, 2017 at 6:30PM-7:30PM for a talk on physicians and polar exploration.
Douglas Kondziolka collects arctic and antarctic polar exploration books, maps and letters from the era of the late eighteenth through the early twentieth century. A focus on the Arctic was stimulated first by his Canadian father’s tenure with the US Air Force at their Canadian base in the arctic in the 1950s, and later by the popular historian Pierre Berton and his book “The Arctic Grail.” Dr. Kondziolka’s collection began in 1994 and was fostered by several trips to the arctic to visit important exploration sites. The collection documents the important steps in Arctic discovery, both for a Northwest passage to Asia, and to the North Pole itself. The publications, letters and maps tell that story of a cast of unique characters, and among them many physicians, who dared to venture into lands unknown. In this talk, the roles of physicians, spanning from naturalists, to artists, to caregivers, to troublemakers, will be highlighted.
Wine and refreshments will be provided during the talk. Please register no later than Wednesday, January 25, 2017.
Friends of the Rare Book Room are invited to come at 6:00pm to look at selected books with the speaker in the Drs. Barry and Bobbi Coller Rare Book Reading Room prior to the talk. This event is part of our series for Friends. To join the Friends please click here.

Dr. Douglas Kondziolka received his medical degree from the University of Toronto and graduated from the Toronto neurosurgery residency program in 1991. From 1989 to 1991 at the University of Pittsburgh, he completed a master of science program in the Department of Behavioral Neuroscience and a fellowship in stereotactic surgery and radiosurgery. He joined the faculty of the Department of Neurological Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh in January 1992 and later was named Chief of Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery. In November 2012, Dr. Kondziolka joined the neurosurgery faculty at New York University as Professor and Vice-Chair for Clinical Research.

($35 for Friends of the Rare Book Room; $50 general public. Wine and refreshments included in the ticket price. Please register no later than Wednesday, January 25, 2017.)

The John K. Lattimer Lecture: “The Marrow of Tragedy: Disease and Diversity in Civil War Medicine”

Please join The New York Academy of Medicine (1216 Fifth Avenue at 103rd Street, New York, NY 10029) on Tuesday, February 21, 2017 at 6:00PM-7:30PM for Margaret Humphreys’ John K. Lattimer Lecture.

Health care in the U.S. Civil War is often depicted as gruesome, with amputations (sans anesthesia) as the centerpiece of horror. In actuality, hospitals could be sites of healing, although there were significant differences between North and South. In this lecture, Margaret Humphreys highlights the variations among medical loci during the war, an analysis that illustrates the aspects of “good health care” that made a difference in the survival of Civil War patients.

Margaret Humphreys is the Josiah Charles Trent Professor in the History of Medicine at Duke University. She received her PhD in the History of Science (1983) and MD (1987) from Harvard University. She is the author of Yellow Fever and the South (Rutgers, 1992) and Malaria: Poverty, Race and Public Health in the United States (Johns Hopkins, 2001), Intensely Human: The Health of the Black Soldier in American Civil War (2008) and Marrow of Tragedy: The Health Crisis of the American Civil War (2013). She teaches the history of medicine, public health, global health, food, and biology to undergraduates at Duke University, and is editor emeritus of the Journal of the History of Medicine. (For more information, see

The event is part of the Library’s Legacies of War: Medical Innovations and Impacts Series.

The profound physical and mental destruction left in the wake of war has by necessity accelerated innovation in medicine that often led to benefits for society as a whole. The conditions of war have brought advances in surgical care, prosthetics, blood banking, antibiotics and trauma care. This series commemorates the American entry into World War I in 1917 by exploring the often-intertwined history of conflict and medical innovation, as well as the devastating and ongoing impact of war on the minds and bodies of soldiers and civilian populations.

($12 General Public | $8 Friends, Fellows, Members, Seniors | Free to Students with ID)

Nuisance or Necessity? Historical Perspectives on the ‘Informed’ Patient

Dr. Dana Atchley interviewing a patient, 1958.  Photo by Elizabeth Wilcox, courtesy Archives & Special Collections, Columbia University Health Sciences Library.

Dr. Dana Atchley interviewing a patient, 1958. Photo by Elizabeth Wilcox, courtesy Archives & Special Collections, Columbia University Health Sciences Library.

The History of the Health Sciences Lecture Series presents Nuisance or Necessity? Historical Perspectives on the ‘Informed’ Patient, by Nancy Tomes, PhD, SUNY Distinguished Professor of History, Stony Brook University, New York.

Fake Silk: The Lethal History of Viscose Rayon

Join UCSF Archives & Special Collections on Friday, December 2, at noon in the Lange Room for an afternoon talk with medical historian and author Paul Blanc MD MSPH  as he discusses the toxic legacy of viscose rayon portrayed in his new book, Fake Silk. Dr. Blanc poses a basic question: When a new technology makes people ill, how high does the body count have to be before protectives steps are taken? His work tells a dark story of hazardous manufacturing, poisonous materials, environmental abuses, political machinations, and economics trumping safety concerns. It explores the century-long history of “fake silk,” or cellulose viscose, used to produce such products as rayon textiles and tires, cellophane, and everyday kitchen sponges. His research uncovers the grim history of a product that crippled and even served a death sentence to many industry workers while also releasing toxic carbon disulfide into the environment. Continue reading

Bullitt History of Medicine Club Lecture: “Once You Pop, You Can’t Stop (Bleeding): Aortic Aneurysms and their Management from the 18th to the 21st Century”

b2233547x_0015Please join us for the next in the series of Bullitt History of Medicine Club Lectures  on Tuesday, November 8, 2016, 12:00 noon in the UNC Health Sciences Library, Room 527. Refreshments provided! Our speaker will be Justin Barr, MD, PhD, General Surgery Residency Program, Duke University Medical Center. Continue reading

Upcoming at UNC: Health Sciences Library Special Collections Open House!

tumblr_odyy6rtgfn1td5mkfo1_1280Do you want to attend a Halloween event that won’t affect your waistline and is free of Disney princesses and Minions? Here’s your chance! Visit the UNC Health Sciences Library on Monday, October 31 at NOON (HSL 527) to view books, photographs, and medical equipment that will make you appreciate today’s medical and dental practices. This event is also a celebration of American Archives Month and North Carolina Archives Month.

~This post is courtesy Dawne Lucas, Special Collections Librarian.