Alice Hamilton (1869-1970)

Alice Hamilton

Alice Hamilton was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana in 1869 to a prominent family. In 1893, she graduated from medical school at the University of Michigan. In 1897, she started teaching at the Women’s Medical School of Northwestern University and she moved into Hull House.

While at Hull House, Hamilton operated a well-baby clinic for neighborhood residents. Under the direction of the State of Illinois and later the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, she began to investigate occupational illnesses (also called industrial medicine) and soon became a pioneer in the field. Her most well-know investigations were her studies of carbon monoxide poisoning in steelworkers, mercury poisoning in hatters, and a debilitating hand condition developed by workers using jackhammers.

In 1919, Hamilton became the first female faculty member at Harvard Medical School, and remained there until she retired at age 66. After retirement, she remained active, as a consultant to the US Division of Labor Standards and as president of the National Consumers League. Hamilton died in 1970.


Works Cited:

  • Reprinted from NWHM Cyber Exhibit "Women in the Progressive Era"
    Author Kristina Gupta
  • PHOTO: Alice Hamilton , Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ggbain-29988