Disease & Discovery: A History of the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health, 1916–1939

by Elizabeth Fee. xii + 286 pages, illustrated. The Johns Hopkins University Press, 701 West 40th Street, Suite 275, Baltimore, Maryland 21211. 1987. $30.00

W. D. Tigertt
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“This book tells the story of the founding, organization, and early development of the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health.” This encompasses the establishment of public health as a profession in the United States and the establishment of schools throughout the world based on the Hopkins model. It is an announced success story, complete with some warts, as depicted by a proud young faculty member who has relied almost exclusively on archives, institutional publications, and verbal histories.

“At the end of the nineteenth century public health was the province of part-time political appointees and volunteer groups of every variety.… Any knowledge they may have had of public health principles was fortuitous.…” In manners not examined, this “preprofessional period” had produced Walter Reed and William Gorgas. Their control of yellow fever in Cuba and Panama, with the resultant improvement in economic and social conditions, so impressed American industrialists that, according to the author, they convinced John D. Rockefeller to spend a million dollars for the control of hookworm in the southern United States.