Arago: 55-cent Hamilton

55-cent Hamilton

The Postal Service issued a 55-cent Alice Hamilton stamp in a pane of 100 on July 11, 1995, in Boston, Massachusetts. The stamp was designed by Chris Calle of Ridgefield, Connecticut. The stamp was engraved through the intaglio process by the Banknote Corporation of America, Inc.

The stamp features Alice Hamilton, who earned her medical degree from the University of Michigan in 1893. Following study in Germany, she spent 22 years in Chicago as a resident at Jane Addams' Hull House, where her eyes were opened to the problems of the working class in industrialized America. One of her many firsts include a study, published in 1911, conclusively demonstrating the prevalence of lead poisoning in industry, leading to measurable improvements in many factories. Her subsequent work included the dangers of poisons used or produced in the manufacturing of explosives, the effects of the air hammer on the hands of stonecutters, the occurrence of spastic anemia in workers who used jackhammers, and the perils of monoxide emissions in steel mills. Dr. Hamilton was also responsible for the discontinuation of the use of "dope poisoning" in the manufacturing of airplanes during WWI.

In 1919, Alice Hamilton became the first woman appointed to the Harvard faculty when she joined a new joint program in industrial hygiene between the Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health. In 1915, she was a delegate to the International Congress of Women at The Hague, and in 1928, Dr. Hamilton was one of two physicians appointed in a US delegation to a League of Nations Health Commission. In 1924, at the invitation of the Soviet Union's Department of Health, she visited the USSR and, upon her return, her commentary concerning their dedication to economic equality led the House Committee on Un-American Activities in 1949 to label her a supporter of "Communist fronts." At age 93, in 1963, she signed an open letter protesting continuing US military involvement in Vietnam. Dr. Hamilton died in 1970 at the age of 101. Dr. Hamilton was a leading social reformer in the new century. Her scientific texts and papers, the individuals she mentored, and her spirit of inquiry have had a lasting impact on public health and social reforms of the 20th century.

Reference: Postal Bulletin (June 8, 1995)

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