School commemorates Harvard’s first female faculty member, Alice Hamilton, with sculpture

Alice Hamilton bust unveiling
Sculptor Robert Shure and Dean Michelle Williams unveil a bust of Alice Hamilton.

September 27, 2018—Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health unveiled a sculpture of Alice Hamilton, Harvard’s first female faculty member, on September 26 in the François-Xavier Bagnoud (FXB) Building lobby.

In remarks during the unveiling ceremony, Dean Michelle Williams said the bust would remind women and men of Hamilton’s accomplishments and her breaking of centuries-old barriers.

Hamilton, who was appointed assistant professor of industrial medicine in 1919, was a leading authority on workplace health. She conducted studies on the toxic effects of lead and mercury exposure in manufacturing, which contributed to government reforms to improve the health of workers. Hamilton’s appointment was subject to three restrictions: She was not to be allowed into the Faculty Club, not to participate in processions at commencement, and not eligible for faculty tickets to football games.

Throughout her career, Hamilton’s public health work was inextricably linked to her passion for social justice, which extended to causes including pacifism and women’s rights. She began her career teaching pathology at the Women’s Medical School of Northwestern University of Chicago, where she lived side by side with immigrants and the poor.

Sculptor Robert Shure said of his work, “I hope viewers can stop before it and learn of her achievements in public health, education, science, and humanity … my intention is that viewers will follow in her footsteps.”

Harvard Chan School community members applaud during the unveiling ceremony.
Community members applaud during the unveiling ceremony.
Harvard Medical School Dean George Q. Daley, Harvard Chan School Dean Michelle Williams, sculptor Robert Shure, and wife Kathy Shure at the unveiling ceremony.








Watch a video about Alice Hamilton:

– story and photos: Nilagia McCoy