Her Story


Jane Addams, Alice Hamilton, and Aletta Jacobs in Berlin, May 1915

The photo here is Alice Hamilton, MD, in 1893, the year she graduated from the University of Michigan Medical School, age 24 years.



Dr. Alice was born in New York City (27 Feb 1869), raised in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and died in Hadlyme, Connecticut, at age 101 years (22 Sep 1970) just after the OSHAct was signed in the USA for Occupational Safety and Health. Her life was full of work, travel, and writing.

In her day, Hamilton was climbing into mines and quarries, touring factories, and protecting immigrant workers, While living at Hull House, she investigated drug traffic in Chicago, and those who sold cocaine. She visited lead works, smelters, and potteries in Germany, England, and Belgium to see what Europe was doing to protect worker health.

In her 40s, as a recognized expert on lead poisoning and one of the few experts on occupational disease in the USA, Hamilton was invited to serve as a Special Investigator for Industrial Diseases. Over the next decade, she studied the hazards of lead, mercury, arsenic, and radium in the manufacture of watch dials. She wrote extensive reports with a master's stroke – clear, rigorous, and factual. 

Hamilton was in the first generation of college women in the USA, chaired the first state commission to survey occupational disease, and with a taste for adventure, blended modest charm with a tenacity for remediating dangerous work. She held the nation's first university appointment in industrial medicine, coincidentally as the first woman on the faculty of Harvard.



Many have contributed to the story of Alice Hamilton, MD.

American Chemical Society - Alice Hamilton and the Development of Occupational Medicine. National Historic Chemical Landmark, dedicated 21 Sep 2002, at Jane Addams Hull-House Museum in Chicago, Illinois https://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/education/whatischemistry/landmarks/alicehamilton.html

Biography - Alice Hamilton: Activist, Chemist, Scientist, Activist, Doctor, Scientist, Educator (1869–1970) http://www.biography.com/people/alice-hamilton-9326498

CDC - Alice Hamilton (27 Feb 1869–22 Sep 1970) first US physician to devote herself to research in industrial medicine https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/MM4822bx.htm

Chemical Heritage Foundation During the early stages of industrial development in the United States, Hamilton identified many workplace hazards and worked to improve the health of inner-city poor. She was also the first woman appointed professor at Harvard University https://www.chemheritage.org/historical-profile/alice-hamilton

Distinguished Women of Past and Present - Alice Hamilton (1869-1970)


Encyclopedia.com - American physician Alice Hamilton, recognized as founder of industrial medicine in the USA


First Female on Harvard University Faculty - Dr. Alice Hamilton 1919. Her appointment comes with three limitations: 1) She is not allowed into the Faculty Club, 2) She is not to participate in the academic processions at commencement, and 3) She is not eligible for faculty tickets to the football games 


Global Health Impacts of Nanotechnology Law by Ilise L Feitshans (2018). 

Section 6.2.1 The Right to Know and Hamilton’s Work Exploring the Dangerous Trades

Chapter 6.3 Hamilton’s Legacy: Government Obligations Operationalizing the Right to Know


Taylor & Francis Group - Global Health Impacts of Nanotechnology Law


Harvard Library - Hamilton, Alice, 1869-1970. Papers of Alice Hamilton, 1909-1987 (inclusive), 1909-1965 (bulk): A Finding Aid. Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University http://oasis.lib.harvard.edu//oasis/deliver/deepLink?_collection=oasis&uniqueId=sch00031

History Center Notes and Queries - Our Stories from Fort Waye and Allen County, Indiana - The Extraordinary Hamilton Family 16 May 2013 http://historycenterfw.blogspot.com/2013/05/the-extraordinary-hamilton-family.html

IPFW - Indiana University, Purdue, Fort Wayne News Release: 21 Oct 2009 - Hamilton Sisters Statue to be Rededicated http://www.ipfw.edu/news/detail.html?id=101026

National Library of Medicine - Changing the Face of Medicine - Alice Hamilton https://cfmedicine.nlm.nih.gov/physicians/biography_137.html

PBS News Hour - Celebrating the life of Alice Hamilton, founding mother of occupational medicine by Dr. Howard Markel


Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University - Alice Hamilton 19 May 2015 https://www.radcliffe.harvard.edu/schlesinger-library/inside-the-collections/comets-asteroids-poisons-vertebrates-and-more

Wikipedia - Alice Hamilton https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alice_Hamilton