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Overview of the History Project


Updating the APHA History

  1. Update the 100 year History drawing upon resources with
    illustrative examples presented below
  2. Produce a hard copy follow up on the 100 year history
  3. Provide a web base for materials in a flexible format to assure a
    living body of diverse materials and media
  4. Subsequently coordinate with the larger MPHI History project
    on public health and courseware development

The project target is to capture the development of public health around the role of APHA and its relation to health professions and update our last formal published 100 year history. There with an additional important theme: to look forward, to explore the theme of our history as a stepping stone to the future.

• The activities will encompass an authoritative history in its traditional sense.

• The print, multimedia, and web base proposal encompasses both traditional and cyber dissemination modes.

• The additional implications of what history and the present course of APHA and Public Health informs us about the next generation.

We would capture material, reports, and media that are fungible and are in danger of loss along with achieve holdings and available current resources. To the detriment of the field, significant parts of our history, accomplishments, and struggles are being lost as papers, testimonials, and experience are not being systematically captured.

Guidance and Sponsorship

The project is be guided by an authoritative body of advisors and consultants. These include APHA Publications and APHA Journal representation, contributors to the Journal’s history based themes. A small core group guide the actual work. There are several external repositories of knowledge and available material that we also invite to participate. We invite sponsorship of larger groups, The APHA Past Presidents and other selected groups and individuals who can act as sponsors. We seek supplementary funding.

Prior and immediate experience
Some time ago, MPHI contacted several to serve on a Committee to guide the work of the MPHI project and there was very positive response.

  • There is a base and expressed need for a flexible updated formal public health history and associated knowledge dissemination need.
  • We explored several applications, and dissemination through publication and web based dissemination.
  • Interest and offers of collaboration on all levels local, state, national, and international.


1. Primary Source Inventory and Core Material: Assemble extant available sources, collation, books , media, art, and papers. For example APHA’s Reprint Series #1 -The APHA: 125 Years Old – And Approaching the Millennium Edited by Elizabeth Fee and Theodore M. Brown.

Note: I informally collected several State, and local histories, these too should be included and systematically identified. Sections, Affiliates, SPIGS, and Caucus histories are available and can provide additions information. Experts will have far greater resources already assembled (as above).

2. Living History and related documents: capturing current legendaries, preferably in video, other contemporaries, students, and commentators. Gathering or identifying related documents and sources, Affiliate, Sections SPIGS Caucus histories but also consider documents of “affinity groups” related histories and media such as other public health associations. Note: several prominent public health leaders have published memoirs but others have papers and experience that is in danger of being lost. I had some first hand experience with a Past President’s papers and such potential loss is worrisome.

3. Website and Advisory Sponsorship Network: to be established to provide overall guidance, collection, plan, participatory resources, and dissemination for all media produced.

4. Targets:
Synthesis of sources and preparation of a hardcopy and web based update. A secondary use to be considered is the production of multimedia, and documentary materials and resources. At a minimum additional resource material would be catalogued and updated on an ongoing basis.

5. Displays, Exhibits, and Specialized Content: This category is an example of possible further derivative activities. The priority activity is the Update of our 100 Year history. Derivative products and Activities/ Partnerships with Libraries and Museums should be considered. We can see how things go, and determine what are realistic additional products and services.

ORGANIZATION OUTREACH: to form the core Expert Group, and potential partners.

We will ask for modular contributions from “cognizant and authoritative” and sources in specified content areas. Content would be developed under a template for material so that continuity and structure are maintained while drawing on multiple sources and authors. There are several expert groups working in these areas as well as recognized academic and institutional centers,


3. Stages-details to be developed

Stage 1

  1. Develop the specific content plan and the themes of the History
  2. Develop more specific content and structure
  3. Begin “market research”, audience needs and outlets
  4. Explore Funding

Stage 2

  1. Assemble documents and complete media availability survey
  2. Development of Chapters and work plan
  3. Begin collection of “Living histories”
  4. Develop an open architecture website and an informal basis solicit leads and contributions.
  5. Explore Special projects: ex. Les Breslow, and Paul Cornely Bus Tour revisited

Stage 3

  1. Writing and editorial work
  2. Shape of the archive and project
  3. Final plans for initial dissemination
  4. Evaluate aspects of ancillary projects and Multimedia publication, and dissemination
  5. Themes: Consider the Forward Look of our History, how our history may inform us about the future.

Consider the themes, and context of our history. Set our history within the contemporary setting. For example, larger themes evident beginning with our founding immediate post civil war, the closing of the frontier, industrialization and urbanization,, the first age of “big biology”. The contextual themes would summarize the social upheavals and epochs that bring us to today. Consider a synthesis of our history with its implications for the future. We can identify content themes. Invite some individual essays and opinions as a companion to and rounding out the History Update. Note: examples follow but the following list is just my initial suggestions and not at all what a final thematic list should constitute.

  • Big Biology
  • Communication and Information society counterbalanced by poverty and neglect
  • Aging and Chronic diseases in the face of emerging/reemerging diseases
  • Public Health and Health Systems :expectations, performance, access, cost and quality imbalance
  • Personal, Family, and Community responsibility
  • Environment
  • Health Literacy and Empowerment
  • Disparities, behavioral, and prevention dimensions