"Science at the Borders: Immigrant Medical Inspection and the Shaping of the Modern Industrial Labor Force"
Amy Fairchild, Ph.D., Columbia University
On the New York Academy of Medicine Section on Historical Medicine's 2002-2003 series of lectures
Wednesday, January 29, 2003, 6:00 PM
(Refreshments will be served at 5:30 PM)
At the Academy: 1216 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY
Officers of the United States Public Health Service began examining immigrants for "loathsome and dangerous contagious diseases" at the nation's borders in 1891, enlarging their scope in 1903 to target those with diseases rendering them "likely to become a public charge." They declared that medical inspection was "the most important feature of the medical sieve spread to sift out the physically and mentally defective." Although touted and, indeed, initially intended as such, the resulting assembly line of flesh and bone that processed some 25 million diseased immigrants worked to absorb them into American industrial life and transform them into efficient industrial citizens with "proper" industrial values and attitudes. Thus, the procedure that immigrants endured was, for most, part of a process of inclusion. But the immigrant medical exam worked to exclude those who failed to conform to societal expectations about the industrial worker.
Amy Fairchild is an Assistant Professor and the Assistant Director for Scholarly and Academic Affairs at the Center for the History & Ethics of Public Health in the Department of Sociomedical Sciences at Columbia's Mailman School of Public Health. Educated in history and public health at Columbia University, her work, which focuses on the intersection of history and public health policy, has appeared in Science, The American Journal of Public Health, and The Bulletin of the History of Medicine. Her first book, Science at the Borders: Immigrant Medical Inspection the Shaping of the Modern Industrial Labor Force, 1981 to 1930, will be published by Johns Hopkins in the Spring of 2003. She is currently working on a history and ethics of public health surveillance in 20th century American, set against a backdrop of changing notions of privacy and confidentiality.
This event is free and open to the public. For more information about NYAM programs in the history of medicine, write firstname.lastname@example.org or call Christian Warren.
Founded in 1847, the New York Academy of Medicine is a non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing the health of the public through research, education and advocacy, with a particular focus on disadvantaged urban populations. Please visit our website.
Christian Warren, Ph.D.
New York Academy of Medicine
1216 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10029
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