In 2023, the UCSF Archives & Special Collections is embarking on an ambitious oral history project that seeks to elevate the narratives, perspectives, and expertise of historically underrepresented populations in the education and research communities at UCSF. Through engagement with DEIA leaders from each of the four schools (Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing and Pharmacy), we will record their experiences and document efforts to address and remediate inequities in health, health care, and health sciences education. Taking a profile approach, the goals for each interview will be informed by that person’s life history and experiences. At the conclusion of this one-year project we will organize a public event to introduce this new research corpus to the UCSF community.
Oral history is one of the many tools Archives & Special Collections uses to document different facets of UCSF’s history. One especially important project, the “Diversity in US Medical Schools” series, focused on policies pursued by UCSF and Stanford University medical schools to increase racial and ethnic diversity from the 1960s to the 2000s. This collection contains interviews with Julius R. Krevans, Philip R. Lee, John A. Watson, John S. Wellington, and others, and documents an important chapter in the university’s work to increase the diversity of medical students at the university. Oral history is a valuable tool because it allows us to document personal stories and remembrances often missed in paper records. As in efforts like the “Diversity in US Medical Schools” series, the DHEHS Oral History Project seeks to understand not just what, for example, DEIA initiatives UCSF has pursued, but why those who led these efforts chose a particular path and how their previous experiences influenced their thinking. Further, we can ask interviewees to reflect on these efforts from the present day and consider the long term impact of their work, including what was successful, and how they might have done things differently.
The first phase of the DHEHS Oral History Project includes forming advisory committees at each of the four schools. The advisory committees’ primary purpose is to develop and prioritize a list of interviewees from their respective schools. Projects of all types benefit from advisory committees, and oral history projects are no different. Especially for projects documenting institutional history, oral history practitioners can come in with little prior knowledge, and must learn as much and they can as quickly as possible. Advisory committees are an ideal group to provide institutional knowledge and expertise efficiently and strategically. For the DHEHS Oral History Project, with support from deans and administrators at all four schools, we’re fortunate to have all the advisory committees established, and all are in various stages of identifying potential interviewees and prioritizing who should be interviewed for this project. Interviewing should commence in the next quarter, and we look forward to hearing the personal experiences of those doing essential work around DEIA and health equity at UCSF.
To help researchers in finding and understanding how to work with data from archival health sciences collections, we have compiled and published the Archives as Data research guide. “Archives as Data” refers to archival collection materials in digital form that can be shared, accessed, analyzed, and referenced as data. Using digital tools, researchers can work with archives as data to explore and evaluate characteristics of collection materials and analyze trends and connections within and across them.
UCSF Archives and Special Collections makes data available from a number of our digital collections. Researchers will find information in the guide about accessing and using such data as well as descriptions of both the form and content this data takes. As well, you’ll find a growing set of links to to learning resources about various data analysis methods used to work with archives as data.
This new Archives as Data research guide provides researchers with a centralized resource hub with brief descriptions of collection materials as well as links to the datasets that have been prepared from them, including:
The No More Silence dataset, an aggregation of data from selected collections included in the AIDS History Project which range from the records of community activism groups to the papers of health researchers and journalists.
Data from the Industry Documents Library, comprising collections of documents from the tobacco, food, drug, fossil fuel, chemical, and opioid industries, all of which impact public health.
Selected datasets from the COVID Tracking Project, a volunteer organization launched from The Atlantic and dedicated to collecting and publishing the data required to understand the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States, with data collected from March 2020-March 2021.
We look forward to updating the guide as more data from UCSF Archives and Special Collections becomes available, and anticipate expanding to include links to “archives as data” of interest for digital health humanities work made available by other institutions and organizations.
To learn more about how we are making archives as data available at UCSF, check out recordings and resources from our recent sessions on Finding and Exploring Archives as Data for Digital Health Humanities!
The Archives as Data Research Guide has been published as part of the UCSF DIgital Health Humanities pilot program. Please reach out to the Digital Health Humanities Program Coordinator Kathryn Stine, at email@example.com with any questions about DHH at UCSF. The UCSF Digital Health Humanities Pilot is funded by the Academic Senate Chancellor’s Fund via the Committee on Library and Scholarly Communication.
The Archives and Special Collections reading room is now open Wednesday–Friday from 9 am–noon and 1–4 pm by appointment only. For non-UCSF visitors, please see the following information:
Request materials and make appointments using our new request system; it’s easy to request materials and make reading room appointments. After an initial sign-up, you can track your requests and appointments.
The requirements for access to reading room UCSF Library facilities are currently only open to those with a UCSF ID. External researchers can make appointments to review materials in the Archives & Special Collections reading room. At the time of appointment, visitors will be met at the entrance to the library by the archives staff and accompanied to the reading room. Any individuals visiting the UCSF campus facilities are required to follow UCSF campus guest requirements.
UCSF Archives & Special Collections (A&SC) is excited to announce that it was awarded a grant by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) in support of the project titled Pioneering Child Studies: Digitizing and Providing Access to Collection of Women Physicians who Spearheaded Behavioral and Developmental Pediatrics.
The $149,814 award will support the creation of a digital collection on Calisphere containing materials from five collections held at UCSF documenting life and work of five women physicians and social workers, Drs. Hulda Evelyn Thelander, Helen Fahl Gofman, Selma Fraiberg, Leona Mayer Bayer, and Ms. Carol Hardgrove, who were pioneers in the developmental-behavioral pediatrics research, patient care, and public-health policy. These materials will enable researchers and general public to understand evolution of social policy and cultural norms as they relate to special education, people with disabilities, and equitable access to health care.
In her support letter for this project Dr. Alicia F. Lieberman, the Irving B. Harris Endowed Chair in Infant Mental Health and Vice Chair for Academic Affairs at the UCSF Department of Psychiatry, and Director of the Child Trauma Research Program stressed thatthis grant is extraordinarily timely because these women physicians and social workers “have been trailblazers in creating new knowledge and revolutionizing clinical care, but their contributions are at risk of being neglected or overlooked. These five women excelled against enormous odds in fields where women had difficulty establishing their own independent contributions, and the long-term ramifications of their work continue to benefit millions of children worldwide.”
A relatively new field in medicine, developmental-behavioral pediatrics came out of an increased demand for mental health services in pediatric care starting in the 1920s. While infant and child mortality rates declined in part due to public health campaigns and medical breakthroughs, concerns over behavioral problems and developmental delays grew as pediatrics began to look beyond mere survival and started to consider the whole child.
“These five women,” saysDr.Jeffrey L. Edleson, Professor and Harry & Riva Specht Chair Emeritus in Publicly Supported Social Services in the School of Social Welfare at the UC Berkeley, “studied and practiced in the same time period and were instrumental in establishing and developing training programs for pediatricians, nurses, and social workers. All of them also published works for the general public addressing issues that emerged at that time and continue to be discussed today, including the role of the mother in the early life of the child, emotional life of children and the importance of including the whole family in pediatric patient care.
A digital collection unifying the records of these five remarkable women scholars […] will benefit historians of medicine and public health, sociologists, educators, social workers, policymakers, health care providers, patient advocates, and parents.”
Documents from these five collections often illustrate the work of their creators on the same or similar projects and collaboration between the creators; these will be digitally “reunited” in the course of the grant by being posted on the same digital platform, Calisphere and being linked through extended metadata. They speak to the contribution women made early on in developmental-behavioral pediatric clinical research through the papers of Dr. Thelander. In 1952, she founded the Child Development Center at the Children’s Hospital of San Francisco where she conducted studies on children with brain-damage and general pediatric neurology. These women were influential in the training of pediatricians as documented by the records of Dr. Gofman. Since 1966 she served as a director of the Child Study Unit at UCSF, one of the first training programs in behavioral pediatrics in the US. The papers of Dr. Fraiberg document several important aspects of developmental-behavioral pediatrics, including the influence of psychoanalysis on the field and her groundbreaking work on intergenerational transmission of trauma. These women were also instrumental in the evolution of pediatric nursing. Ms. Carol Hardgrove collection documents her role as an educator with the School of Nursing and Child Care/Study Center who authored many works dealing with children and parents and the hospital experience. The collection also features professional correspondence of Dr. Leona Mayer Bayer whose life’s work was focused on child development and in particular human growth and psychology of sick children.
According to Dr. Andrew J. Hogan, Associate Professor and Director of the Science and Medicine in Society Program at Creighton University, “Filling in these silences and gaps in the historical records, by making available more widely their various ideas, aspirations, and institutional negotiations, will allow this story to be told in much fuller detail. Gofman, Thelander, and others’ stories are likely to inspire another generation of groundbreaking young physicians to organize care for populations in need. It will be valuable for students and researchers to learn more about the many challenges that these women physicians faced, and how they overcame them to provide improved resources and support for children with behavioral and developmental conditions and disabilities, a population that was historically overlooked in pediatrics, especially in the mid-20th century, when these women were professionally active.”
As part of this project UCSF archivists will engage with communities of women physicians, researchers, and health care providers, discussing how to document their voices that have been underrepresented, absent, or excluded from the history in general and history of their institutions (including UCSF) or professions in particular. By collecting their stories and learning how to document and share them, we will create a more inclusive and equitable historical record.
This 24-month project was launched in September and will be managed by our processing archivist, Edith Escobedo. The materials will be digitized by the UC Merced Library’s Digital Assets Unit that has been partnering with UCSF on successful collaborative digitization projects for more than 10 years.
The mission of the UCSF Archives and Special Collections is to identify, collect, organize, interpret, and maintain rare and unique material to support research and teaching of the health sciences and medical humanities and to preserve institutional memory. Please contact Polina Ilieva, Associate University Librarian for Collections with questions about this award.
By Erin Hurley, User Services and Accessioning Archivist
We are currently more than halfway through Black History Month, a month that takes on special significance this year, following a summer of protests asserting, yet again, that Black Lives Matter. Archives & Special Collections would be remiss if we failed to mention the groundbreaking Black faculty at UCSF, both past and present, who have made significant contributions to the fields of medicine and psychology (as well as many others), and, who, in their work, have found ways to illuminate new facets of racism previously unconsidered and who, on their paths to success, have also sought to support and lift up others.
Mindy Thompson Fullilove is a social psychiatrist who served as Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the UCSF Center for AIDS Prevention Studies (CAPS) from 1983 until 1990. Her work sits at the intersection of mental health and public health, and she focuses, in her own description, on the “sources and consequences of inequality, with a focus on the American city,” including segregation, gentrification, and the impact of these forces on the mental and physical health of Black families.  She is the author of numerous books, including The Black Family: Mental Health Perspectives and Root Shock: How Tearing Up City Neighborhoods Hurts America and What We Can Do About It.Most recently, she has co-edited a volume titled From Enforcers to Guardians: A Public Health Primer on Ending Police Violence. In 2018, she gave a TED talk which gives an overview of her work and her personal history and outlines her hopes for achieving equality.
Eritrean surgeon Haile T. Debas has, many times over, served as an example of what Black leadership can look like, and has shown how it can benefit others in a variety of ways. Debas, who came to UCSF in 1987 to serve as the Chair of the Department of Surgery, specializes in gastrointestinal physiology. During his time as Chair, UCSF “became one of the country’s leading centers for transplant surgery, the training of young surgeons, and basic and clinical research in surgery.” He then went on to serve as the Dean of the School of Medicine for 10 years, from 1993-2003. In 1997, he was appointed as the 7th Chancellor of UCSF, a position that he agreed to hold for one year while also serving as Dean of the School of Medicine.
Debas, in his long and distinguished career, has demonstrated a commitment to serving underserved areas, from his work in the Yukon Territories, where he practiced surgery early in his career, to a long-held dream of establishing a medical school in Eritrea. It was this commitment that led him to establish, in 2009, the UC Global Health Institute, which sought to leverage the expertise and resources of all ten UC campuses to address global health issues, which he says are “so big that single disciplines can’t tackle them.” He also served as Executive Director of UCSF Global Health Sciences (GHS), established in 2003, which focuses on issues like diseases of poverty, chronic illnesses, and the global threat posed by certain infectious diseases, like COVID-19.
His work in global health has informed his support for women’s empowerment movements, and he notes, “In global health, women’s empowerment is the critical element—nothing will be accomplished to a successful end without women’s support.” Debas also established the UCSF Department of Surgery’s Haile T. Debas Diversity Fellowship for Fourth Year Medical Students, which offers fourth year medical students a sub-internship in the Department of Surgery, as well as a $2,500 stipend. Debas appears often in Archives & Special Collections materials, as a part of the Office of the Dean’s records, as well as in the Global Health Sciences records and the Oral History collection.
Every October we celebrate Archives Month to reflect on the value of historical materials and to highlight UCSF Archives programs and services. This year we are marking the occasion in the midst of the era-defining triple pandemic of COVID-19, systemic racism, and police violence, not to mention momentous political upheaval.
Now as much as ever, it is critical to protect the records of the past and of the present. We are living through and making history; we must ensure that a diverse and inclusive record of this time is preserved for those in the future to access and understand.
Here are some ways you can get involved to celebrate Archives Month:
Get started collecting and caring for your records (emails, photos, blogs, social media, reports, websites, etc). Consider submitting your materials to the UCSF COVID-19 Pandemic Chronicles.
Join us on Wednesday October 7 for #AskAnArchivist Day! UCSF archivists will be standing by from 10am-2pm PDT on Twitter to answer your questions and chat about archives and UCSF history. Ask us anything at @ucsf_archives.
To explore recordings of our past Archives Talks on topics ranging from Black Women Physicians’ Careers, Elderhood, Documenting While Black, and the Myth of the Perfect Pregnancy, please visit our Archives Events and Exhibits page.
By Erin Hurley, User Services & Accessioning Archivist
This coming Monday, September 28, 2020, is the day UNESCO has designated as International Access to Information Day. Their website notes that, this year, the day is focused on “the right to information in times of crisis and on the advantages of having constitutional, statutory and/or policy guarantees for public access to information to save lives, build trust and help the formulation of sustainable policies through and beyond the COVID-19 crisis.” In a time of national and global crisis, this year’s theme may resonate particularly with Americans, whether it brings to mind the availability of voting information or attempts at voter suppression, or of the deliberate obfuscation of scientific data and fact by the highest levels of government.
To this end, I’d like to celebrate libraries and archives, and their explicit mission to make information accessible. UCSF Library and its Archives & Special Collections, though closed to the public since the City of San Francisco’s “shelter in place” mandate on March 16th, continues to find creative ways to help students, faculty, staff, and outside researchers access the vast stores of information that the library and archives hold, and to find ways to facilitate access across great distances.
As the User Services and Accessioning Archivist, my job is to both make collections accessible through the accessioning process, and to help users navigate the various portals through which Archives and Special Collections shares its information. This may be through finding aids on the Online Archive of California, catalog records in the UCSF Library catalog, or through brief inventories attached to finding aids that tell a user what kinds of materials they can find in a given archival collection and to help them determine whether that particular collection may be of use to them.
Though the majority of my work is still remote, I have accessioned some exciting new collections on-site over the past couple of months, which will soon be available in the above-mentioned locations. Among these is an accrual to UCSF’s Black Caucus collection, focused on the Office of UCSF Affirmative Action, Equal Opportunity and Diversity. The collection was donated to A&SC in 2019, by Karen Newhouse, who served as Director of this office from 1970-2010, and includes materials documenting the work of various UCSF organizations committed to advancing diversity on campus, including Council of Minority Organizations (COMO), the Latin American Campus Association (LACA), and the pioneering Black Caucus organization, which was founded in May of 1968 – one month after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. As the finding aid to the initial deposit notes, the organization is open to all Black women and men on campus, and “was instrumental in the establishment of an Affirmative Action Office, minority training programs and focused attention on the need for increased minority student enrollment at the UCSF campus.”
UCSF Black Caucus Flyer on a National Survey on Minority Admissions, January 1973, Black Caucus Records, MSS 85-38, UCSF Archives & Special Collections
Another exciting addition to the UCSF Archives includes the papers of Benjamin Libet – a neurophysiologist and professor of physiology at UCSF for nearly 50 years. Very recently donated to the Archives by his daughter Moreen, Libet’s papers consist of his personal files of research into the human brain, as well as extensive documentation of his experiments attempting to locate the origin of “free will.” The “Libet Experiment,” as it has come to be called, was conducted in the 1980s, and tried to determine whether conscious decisions first originate in the body or in the brain by asking subjects to perform simple movements while measuring their brain activity. This study seemed to indicate that the brain registers the decision to make a movement before a person is consciously aware of the decision to move, suggesting that decisions may originate in the body, and, as some have suggested, possibly disproving the idea of “free will.” This assertion of physical determinism has been much debated, and Libet’s experiments continue to be of great interest. His papers include some of the experimental devices that were constructed to help measure these brain activities, as well as handwritten notes, graphs and diagrams, and the data produced over the course these experiments. The collection is still in the process of being accessioned and inventoried, but will be available soon via OAC and the Library catalog.
If you’d like to learn more about any of these collections, or have questions about A&SC’s extensive digital collections, please feel free to get in touch.
By Erin Hurley, User Services & Accessioning Archivist
Although, in 2020, advice like “wash your hands” and “cover
your mouth when you cough” seem fairly obvious and common sense, there was a
time when this was not the case. That time was March 1855, when the situation
in British hospitals outside of Constantinople (now Istanbul, Turkey) during
the Crimean War had become so dire that Florence Nightingale and 40 other women
acting as trained volunteer nurses were finally allowed access to patients
(they had previously been denied access because of their gender). Hospitals
were overcrowded and extremely unsanitary conditions encouraged the spread of
infectious diseases like cholera, typhoid, typhus and dysentery, which Nightingale
recognized immediately. She implemented basic cleanliness measures, such as
baths for patients, clean facilities, and fresh linens, and advocated for an
approach that addressed the psychological and emotional, as well as the
physical, needs of patients. Her improvements brought a dramatic decline in the
mortality rate at these hospitals, which had previously been as high as 40%.
While Nightingale is well known as one of the world’s first nurses, she is less well known for her strikingly lovely data visualizations (including pie charts and a rose-shaped design called the “coxcomb”), which she used to highlight the number of deaths from diseases, in addition to deaths from wounds or injury, during the Crimean War. Nightingale, a mathematician and statistician, recognized the importance of eye-catching visuals in communicating the impact of her innovations.
Robert E. Allen, Jr., MD, (1935-2018), was born in Blountstown, Florida and always aspired to become a doctor. In pursuit of his dreams, Allen received a bachelor’s degree in Biology from Florida A&M University, master’s degree in Genetics from Michigan State University, and a doctorate in Medicine from Meharry Medical College. He completed his residency in surgery at UC San Francisco, and a fellowship in surgery oncology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. Allen also completed two additional postdoctoral fellowships in surgery at the National Institute of Health and peripheral vascular research at San Francisco General Hospital. As a SFGH fellow in trauma, he organized the ambulance paramedic program while training under F. William Blaisdell, MD.
Robert Allen Jr., David Powers collection, 1990-1991
Dr. Allen began his career at UCSF as a Surgical Oncologist,
specializing in Melanoma Surgery. He soon became the first Black Clinical
Professor of Surgery at UC San Francisco, serving as a faculty member for over
Allen was a cofounder of the Northern California Melanoma
Center with Dr. Lynn E. Spitler and other surgeons. Here, he participated in
consultation panels and surgeries on the Center’s patients until his
He has authored many articles for medical periodicals, wrote
chapters in medical publications, and spoke a medical conventions throughout
the United States and Europe. In addition, he was a member of various honor
societies, including the UCSF Naffziger Surgical Society.
To learn more about Dr. Allen’s work, check out these articles:
Vicki Alexander at SFGH. Perinatal Health Project.
Vicki Alexander, MD, has dedicated her life to improving the social determinants of public health.
Alexander attended the UC San Francisco, where she completed her medical degree and residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology in 1974. She went on to Columbia University, where she obtained her master’s degree in Public Health.
Dr. Alexander began as an Ob-Gyn Clinical Instructor at San Francisco General Hospital. She soon became the director of SFGH’s Perinatal Health Project, which served high-risk mothers and infants in the community. Alexander then relocated to New York, working as a clinical instructor and chief of obstetrics and gynecology at Harlem Hospital. Eventually, she returned to the west coast and became the Maternal Child Health Director and Health Officer for the City of Berkeley until she retired in 2006.
Vicki Alexander at SFGH. Perinatal Health Project.
Alexander has participated in many organizations to improve the living conditions for women and children, including: Rainbow Coalition, Center for Constitutional Rights, Reproductive Rights National Network, Planned Parenthood, City Material and Child Health.
In 1978, she established the Coalition to Fight Infant Mortality in Oakland, which helped women with medical care and social issues.
In 2000, Alexander began the Black Infant Health program in Berkeley, which grew from her coalition at Highland Hospital. This was the foundational step to the creation of the Alameda County Coalition to decrease infant mortality.
Alexander is also the current founder and board president of Healthy Black Families (HBF), Inc., which dovetails with the Black Infant Health program. It was founded as a non-profit organization in July 2013 to support the health, growth, development, and future of Black individuals and families.
For her devotion towards health and social justice, Dr. Vicki has won many awards, including: Women of the Year Award (2011); Martin Luther King, Lifetime Achievement Award (2014); National Jefferson Award for Community Service (2015); Alameda County African American Black History Month Award (2017); Madame CJ Walker Award for Black Women (2017); and 15th Assembly District Woman of the Year Award (2017).
To learn more about Dr. Vicki, check out these articles available in our digital collection on HathiTrust and Synapse Archive: