Hamilton, Alice

Alice Hamilton

Harvard School of Public Health

For contributions to the prevention of occupational diseases, and the improvement of workers’ health. Read about the achievement

To Dr. Alice Hamilton, pioneer American leader in industrial toxicology, for her contribution to the development of public health methods in industry and to the prevention of occupational diseases.

After graduating in medicine at the University of Michigan in 1893 and pursuing postgraduate studies in Germany, Dr. Hamilton returned to the Untied States intending to specialize in bacteriology, pharmacology, and toxicology.

Because of her growing interest in social progress and labor reform, which were increased through her friendship with Jane Addams and her associates at Hull House, Dr. Hamilton began to specialize in industrial medical problems shortly after the turn of the century. At that time industrial medicine was not yet considered a specialty, and the need for physicians in industry was not generally recognized.

Through her efforts to prevent lead poisoning, “Phossy jaw” in the match industry, mercury poisoning, TNT-poisoning in World War I, and her later investigations of benzol, carbon disulfide and other organic solvents, she has contributed much to the control of these hazards, and to the establishment of the profession of industrial preventive medicine in this country.

Throughout her useful life, Dr. Hamilton has worked to improve the health of human beings. She has helped the laborer, the unions, the large manufacturers, the universities, and the government, and all her investigations have been carried out with complete objectivity and fearless candor. She has never been either pro labor or pro capital, but has stood unwaveringly for the betterment of workers’ health.

Dr. Hamilton has been associated with many educational institutions, and the excellence of her contributions has been widely recognized by her scientific associates. After 26 years of service, she is now retired as one of the emeritus professors of the Harvard School of Public Health.

This Lasker Award is given to Dr. Hamilton in recognition of her outstanding accomplishments in industrial toxicology, and for the inspiration she has afforded to all those who are interested in industrial preventive medicine and world health.