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This paper looks at the cooperation and rivalry between the Rockefeller Foundation and the French Pasteur Institute during the development of the 17-D and Dakar vaccine strains for inoculation against yellow fever. Using sources held at the Rockefeller Archive Center, this paper recovers the tenuous relationship between the researchers funded by the two institutions, and shows how their work was shaped by national, imperial, and scientific rivalries. In the race to the yellow fever vaccine, the Pastorians, in particular, utilized their imperial network, which allowed them to bypass ethical concerns raised by researchers in Paris and elsewhere, and proceeded to human trials using a vaccine that had been criticized for its adverse neurological effects on certain subjects.
This report summarizes two weeks of research at the Rockefeller Archive Center (RAC), conducted in April 2019. I focused my research on the involvement of Rockefeller philanthropies such as the International Health Board and Rockefeller Foundation in antimalarial operations in British-ruled Palestine during the beginning of the 20th century. The research I conducted at the RAC helped me determine that the most important scientific unit working to combat malaria in Palestine as well as to facilitate Jewish settlement in the country was, in essence, a quasi-Rockefeller agency. Additionally, the research I conducted suggests that the events in Palestine should be placed in a broader, global context of the interventions of Rockefeller's International Health Board around the world.
This paper examines the activities of Saiki Tadasu, a leading Japanese nutrition scientist of the early twentieth century. According to his American counterpart, Dr. Victor G. Heiser, Saiki's work was "of great benefit to the human race." Using a variety of sources in Japanese archives, the Rockefeller Archive Center, and the League of Nations Archives, this paper focuses on Saiki to explore Japan's role in the making of a global science of nutrition, and to map out an international network of intellectual cooperation and knowledge circulation on nutrition science during this period. Inspired by the work of Iris Borowy and Tomoko Akami, it illustrates a world of scientific knowledge-sharing about human well-being which extended geographically beyond the Atlantic world, and thematically beyond disease control. Following Saiki's lead, from 1900 to 1927, Japanese nutrition scientists contributed to growing public recognition of the importance of nutrition science and championed its global development.
In the early-20th century, the Rockefeller Foundation's International Health Board (IHB) traveled to several areas around the world to tackle rural sanitation and hookworm disease. Yet, few historians have endeavored to evaluate the consequences of IHB-led interventions for local populations. This report describes research conducted at the Rockefeller Archive Center in order to evaluate the effectiveness of hookworm-eradication measures in Brazil (for my first book project) and worldwide (for a second major research project). I discuss the general content of the hookworm-eradication reports and offer insights into how this body of evidence could be used for scholars working outside of health- or medicine-related fields of inquiry. I argue that the content of the hookworm control reports could be better used by historians with a general interest in inequality.
Claude Barlow and the International Health Division’s Campaign to Eradicate Bilharzia (Schistosomiasis) in Egypt, 1929-1940November 26, 2019
Disease eradication has often been likened to a siren song; the task has an immediate allure and a deceptive ease, yet many efforts to master eradication have floundered. The International Health Commission first encountered bilharzia (schistosomiasis) while conducting some of the first hookworm campaigns outside of the American South. While surveying the burden of hookworm in Egypt, staff stumbled across the true scale of schistosome fluke infection across the country. The Rockefeller Foundation's International Health Division returned to Egypt in 1929 and commenced an eleven-year eradication campaign overseen by parasitologists Claude Barlow and J. Allen Scott. What began as a seemingly simple mission to evaluate the success of sanitation interventions in rural villages soon became a complex and fraught program pitting both men against each other, local opinion, and the orthodoxies of international public health experts. In this research report, reflecting on one part of my wider research on the history of eradication thinking in public health, I focus on the important work of Barlow and overview significant aspects of his collected written communication held in the Rockefeller Archive Center. Beginning as an optimistic advocate of eradication, Barlow's experiences in Egypt transformed his views on the likelihood of elimination and – in important ways – foreshadows the ethical, socio-political, and technical limits currently emerging around contemporary philanthropic drives to eradicate infectious diseases.
My research at the Rockefeller Archive Center (RAC) investigated the pivotal period from the 1920s to the 1940s when health practitioners and scientists in the Rockefeller Foundation were confident that they could alleviate, and probably eradicate, serious but little understood diseases such as yaws. During these decades, the IHD, and its predecessor before 1927, the International Health Bureau (IHB), embarked upon transferring the Foundation's early successes in public health from the southern United States, notably with hookworm and sanitation campaigns, to overseas. In 1916, the IHB had succeeded the International Health Commission (IHC), founded in 1913. The original mission of the IHC drove the IHB/IHD: the "promotion of public sanitation and the spread of knowledge of scientific medicine." Yaws became an add-on to that mission, although syphilis and its links to yaws in tropical countries never quite assumed the attention Turner demanded. But the diseases are entwined, often confused, and worthy of in-depth investigation. My research at RAC formed part of my wider project on the history of yaws and syphilis, but unlike Turner and Sawyer's principal focus on the Caribbean, I sought to concentrate on the vast Asia-Pacific region. My aim is to tackle this history longitudinally and across cultures to look at changing discourse, theories and practices regarding treatments for these diseases and socio-cultural perceptions, especially in relation to causation, symptoms and consequences. These significant diseases have had a huge global impact but have not been investigated together by historians. The Asia-Pacific region is rarely mentioned in publications on syphilis or yaws.
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