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Ira Vaughan Hiscock papers

Call Number: MS 1284
Scope and Contents

Ira Vaughn Hiscock, teacher, public health specialist, consultant and volunteer, was born in Maine, May 7, 1892. Beginning with his education at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, his first job as a bacteriologist with the Connecticut State Health Department and continuing through his long tenure as a professor of public health at Yale University (1920-1960), Hiscock became more and more involved with local, state, and national health and social agencies. The Hiscock files preserved in these papers reveal a man who devoted countless hours to the control of communicable diseases such as typhus, tuberculosis, and measles; the improvement of maternity and child health care; the promotion of health education for children and adults; the advancement of public health education in medical schools; and the establishment and administration of state and local health councils.

The Hiscock Papers consist of his office files from 1918-1979, though the quantity of material after 1939 is very small. The files are incomplete in several other respects. Though Hiscock taught at Yale for over forty years the papers contain few lectures or course outlines or course notes. Equally underrepresented is Hiscock's role as an author, for very few of his 300 articles and several books are present in the papers. (Appendix A contains a list of publications by Hiscock available in various libraries at Yale.) Hiscock's involvement in producing reports and health surveys is established through correspondence but most of the actual reports and surveys are also missing. Since the papers are entirely office files they contain only passing references to Hiscock's personal life.

The Hiscock Papers are arranged in three distinct series by date: I. OFFICE FILES 1918-1924; II. OFFICE FILES 1925-1939; and III. OFFICE FILES 1940-1979.

The time divisions between and the arrangement of files in Series I. and II. were presumably established by Hiscock or his secretaries. Series III. consists of files which were maintained by the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health. Series II. is the largest in quantity and contains the most detailed files. An INDEX TO SELECT CORRESPONDENCE has been appended to this register (Appendix B) listing major correspondents by series and folder number.

Series I. OFFICE FILES, 1918-1924, covers the period of Hiscock's first years at Yale and the beginning of his work with agencies concerned with public health. It reveals the broad scope of Hiscock's interests and foreshadows later associations. The files consist almost exclusively of routine correspondence interfiled in chronological order with a few examples of Hiscock's writings, notably his thesis as a candidate for the M.P.H. degree at Yale (folder 5). Hiscock's work for a Red Cross sanitary unit in South Carolina and his early work for the Connecticut State Health Department concerning disease diagnosis, milk and water analysis and sanitary inspections is discussed in correspondence in the first two folders of the series. In 1921 Hiscock worked on a study of New Haven dairies, and of particular interest in these files is correspondence regarding bacteriology, immunology, and disease control as they relate to dairy farming. This series also contains correspondence with public health figures Haven Emerson; Louis Dublin, Bleeker Marquette, Philip Platt, John L. Rice, Henry Vaughn, and C.-E.A. Winslow. A letter from I.S. Falk in folder 16 refers to Hiscock's contribution of reports for the Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. Through Yale Hiscock was also involved in a "study of health services official and voluntary in the towns of Connecticut of 10,000 to 30,000 population" (folder 6).

Series II. OFFICE FILES, 1925-1939, contains 38 linear feet of correspondence, minutes, reports, surveys, and writings. The bulk of the material consists of Hiscock's professional correspondence with public and private organizations, government officials, academic colleagues, and other persons involved in public health and welfare. The material was filed by year and within each year's files the material is further divided into: General Papers, Surveys, and Writings.

General Papers consists of routine office correspondence, reports, minutes from committee meetings, and news clippings. Surveys consists of correspondence relating to the surveys, reports, background material, and sample survey questionnaires. Writings contains correspondence, manuscript drafts, speech texts, reprints, lists of speeches, and bibliographies of publications.

Within each section, folders are arranged alphabetically by title and chronologically within each folder. Since Hiscock's inconsistent original filing system has been retained, the same correspondence can appear in different folders from year to year. Hiscock would sometimes file material from a given correspondent according to the sender's name, then later according to his place of residence, or the organization in which the sender was active. An INDEX TO SELECT CORRESPONDENCE, by series and folder number, has been appended to the register (Appendix B) to help compensate for this problem.

Many files contain material that is incomplete or routine, yet scanning the list of folder titles gives an indication of the vast scope of Hiscock's involvement in public health issues. The list is dotted with the names of the surveys he conducted and of numerous social agencies, both public and private, to which Hiscock gave his time. Each year's files contain folders for Yale University and Yale University School of Medicine. In general these files are routine and contain scattered committee notes and broken runs of committee minutes, as well as correspondence regarding departmental activities and the placement of public health students. There may or may not be material related to Hiscock's courses which included, over the years: School Hygiene; Rural Hygiene and Sanitation; Public Health Administration; Infant Welfare; Principles of Public Health; Public Health Education; Sanitary Law; Practical Field in Public Health; Child Hygiene.

The 1925-1927 files contain only 1.5 feet of material but provide evidence of Hiscock's growing involvement in national, state, and local public health agencies and issues. He had become associated with the American Public Health Association (A.P.H.A.) in 1921 and in 1925 he was given the responsibility of editing and reviewing all national, state, and local public health surveys for the A.P.H.A.'s Journal of American Public Health. In 1926, he was appointed to the A.P.H.A.'s Committee on Administrative Practice (C.A.P.) which was chaired by C.-E.A. Winslow. He became a member of the committee's field staff which conducted health surveys of municipal health programs around the country. Standards and appraisals of health organizations, their health services, and public health facilities were direct outgrowths of these surveys. For example, Hiscock wrote "Plans of Organization of Community Health Work for Cities of 100,000, 50,000 and 30,000 Population," a study of community health organization plans for C.A.P. (folders 59-64). Through the A.P.H.A Hiscock made or maintained invaluable personal contacts which strengthened his public health career. The A.P.H.A. files, as well as other files throughout Series II., are dotted with letters to and from Haven Emerson, Henry Vaughn, John Rice, Michael Davis, Warren Draper, W.F. Walker, Louis Dublin and C.-E.A. Winslow.

The Connecticut Department of Health files document Hiscock's program to test farm children and cows for tuberculosis and his efforts on behalf of milk pasteurization. Hiscock's support for pasteurization can also be seen in the files for the International Association of Dairy and Milk Inspectors; Hiscock chaired their committee on the Food Value of Milk and sought endorsements for pasteurization from pediatricians and the U.S. Attorney General. For the committee Hiscock also investigated the use of pasteurized milk for infant formula and the innoculation of dairy herds against diseases such as TB. Of interest also is material in folder 132 concerning the establishment by the Yale Medical School of a tuberculosis clinic.

During the years 1925-1927 Hiscock carried out health surveys for local municipalities, such as Greenwich, with support from the state health department and the Yale Department of Public Health. These files also document Hiscock's earliest associations with local agencies such as the New Haven Community Chest, the New Haven branch of the Connecticut Society for Mental Hygiene, the New Haven Visiting Nurse Association, and the New Haven Organized Charities Association (later the New Haven Family Society).

There are no surveys in the years 1925 or 1926. The 1927 section contains material related to an American Red Cross Association funded study of the sanitation problems and needs created by a devastating flood in Arkansas and to research conducted for the Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. on the mortality rates and causes of death of former Yale athletes. Material on this study can also be found in the 1928 Surveys section.

The increasing number of files per year after 1927 reflects the enlarging scope of Hiscock's activities outside Yale and his growing recognition as a specialist in surveys of municipal public health facilities and in public health administration. The 1928 files (folders 139-145, 150, 164 and 200) contain much material on the A.P.H.A.'s study of Honolulu conducted by Hiscock (see folders 201, 294-295, 402-406). The 1928-1929 files for the A.P.H.A. also contain material relative to Hiscock's chairmanship of the Public Health Education section and his work on the Program Committee. Other significant work by Hiscock on a national level is reflected in the files for the American Child Health Association and the National Organization for Public Health Nursing.

In 1928 Hiscock was appointed to the Board of Health of New Haven's Department of Health, a position he would hold for the rest of his working years. This was a key appointment; from his vantage point as a commissioner he was able to see directly the work of the board's bureaus and divisions: communicable disease control; venereal disease; tuberculosis; laboratories; child hygiene; nursing; and inspection. The 1929 files contain a copy of Hiscock's report "Organization of the Department of Health." As a commissioner he gained the respect and cooperation of personnel and built on the contacts and associations he continued to have through his work for the New Haven Community Chest, the New Haven Council of Social Agencies, the Connecticut State Department of Health, and the Connecticut Conference of Social Work.

By 1929 Hiscock was deeply involved in the work of the Health and Safety Committee of the New Haven Council of Boy Scouts and was leading the Health Councils Executives' Association in an exploration of the role of health councils and their relationship to local Community Chests. He also became more active in the National Conference of Social Work and the Milbank Memorial Fund.

The Yale Law School Bankruptcy Study (1929-1930) worked on by Hiscock presages one of the major themes in later files, the attempts of private, public, and governmental agencies to assess and remedy public health and welfare problems created or aggravated by the Depression. This study, conducted by William O. Douglas of the law school in conjunction with the Department of Public Health, examined contributing factors and results of business failures in New Jersey (folder 296). The 1930 file (folder 409) on the study contains the study design and sample medical and sociological questionnaires. Though there is no copy of the final report the preliminary results showed some relationship between family illness and bankruptcy.

C.-E.A. Winslow and Hiscock, in 1930, worked on an important survey of Cattaraugus County, New York. Survey files in 1930 contain correspondence and a final report for this survey. The 1930 survey files also contain a lengthy appraisal report of the public health program in San Fransisco, which is a good example of the usual content of public health surveys.

Through his continuing work on the A.P.H.A. Committee on Administrative Practice, Subcommittee on Record Forms Hiscock became associated with the National Tuberculosis Association and the American Social Hygiene Association. The National Tuberculosis Association funded the development of survey and evaluation forms for tuberculosis clinics and the American Social Hygiene Association funded the development of similar forms for venereal disease clinics. The 1930 A.P.H.A files and the respective association files contain reports on these record forms.

Hiscock's abiding interest in child welfare can be seen in the material he retained from his service on the Medical Care for Children Committee of the White House Conference on Child Health and Protection (folders 388-389). The 1931 survey files also document Hiscock's interest in the health of children and include studies he undertook of the organization of centers that provided care to children (folders 532-534) and of the types of illness that caused children to be absent from school for three or more days (folder 535).

Most of the material in the 1931 A.P.H.A. file focuses on Hiscock's involvement as a consultant to the Inter-Chamber Health Conservation Contest. Working with local public health officials and the Chamber of Commerce he helped to analyze local health conditions and make suggestions on areas needing improvement. There is similar material in the A.P.H.A. files for 1933.

In 1931 Hiscock joined the newly created New Haven Cancer Control Committee. Folders 478-479, 619-623, and 848 contain a significant number of minutes and reports from this committee and there are additional files through the year 1936. The results of the committee's work were published as The Cancer Problem; drafts of this study are in 1936 Writings (folders 1202-1217).

In 1932 and 1933 Hiscock worked with the New Haven Council of Social Agencies' Health Studies Committee on a study of prenatal clinics and home delivery services in New Haven. Though the files contain no final report there are interesting preliminary papers. At the same time he served on the Health Committee of the New Haven Chamber of Commerce collecting information on employer sponsored health programs.

Hiscock's handbook Community Health Organization, first published in 1927, was revised and republished in 1932. This guide to standards of health service had evolved from the work of the A.P.H.A.'s Committee on Administrative Practice on health surveys. The 1932 files of the A.P.H.A. and of the Commonwealth Fund, the publishers of the book, contain material on Hiscock's role as editor of the volume.

Of note in the Writings section for 1932 is a copy of a speech, "Community Health During and After the Depression" which gives Hiscock's views of the problems of adequate health care delivery created by the Depression and his concerns about additional relief measures. This section also contains his talks to state medical societies and transcripts from his appearance on a radio series regarding milk.

In late 1933 Hiscock became an "unofficial advisor" to John L. Rice, the health officer for New York City, and was paid by the Milbank Memorial Fund to study the city's Department of Health with a view to reorganizing it. He worked on this with Haven Emerson, Kenneth Widdeman, and Edgar Sydenst richer. In 1934 correspondence with other organizations Hiscock often apologizes for missing meetings and deadlines because of his involvement in the project. The 1936 Milbank Memorial Fund General Files contain correspondence concerning the book that resulted from the project, District Health Administration. Building on this work in 1937 Hiscock undertook the chairmanship of a committee to consider further opportunities in health education in New York City. He worked with Leona Baumgartner and made contacts with state organizations such as the New York State Charities Aid Association.

In 1934 Hiscock undertook a study of the National Health Council, Inc., and its member agencies. The file (folder 844) contains a copy of the report. Reginald Atwater, then executive secretary of the A.P.H.A., wrote Hiscock on December 14, 1935, complimenting Hiscock on the report, but criticizing him for omitting some of the less savory aspects of the National Health Council.

In 1935 Hiscock visited a number of medical schools to investigate their methods of teaching public health. The 1935 Yale files (folders 1038-1039) contain informal notes and reports made by Hiscock following these visits. From 1933 to 1935 the Surveys sections reveal Hiscock's participation in several other studies, both Yale and A.P.H.A. sponsored. Included in these files is material from surveys of Santa Barbara County, California; San Francisco; Cleveland; Minneapolis; and the Connecticut towns of: New Haven, Meriden, Greenwich, Winstead, West Hartford, Haddam, North Haven, Stratford, Middletown (1933); and Rhode Island; Tennessee; and San Mateo, California (1934). The 1934 files contain information in greater detail on a survey done for the Hartford Community Chest; the 1935 files contain correspondence, drafts, and the final report of a study of Honolulu. The study updated the 1929 work done by Hiscock but added an investigation of the health problems of sugar plantations. The General Files in the following years contain correspondence from friends and associations in Hawaii.

The 1933 to 1935 Writings sections contain bibliographies, manuscript drafts, book reviews, and correspondence with publishers. The reprints or articles in these files are representative of Hiscock's interest and work in this period. Included in 1934 are "Report of the Committee on the Food Value of Milk and Milk Products" and "Rehabilitation of Health Work in the United States," and in 1935 are "The Development of Neighborhood Health Services in the United States," "Some Opportunities and Responsibilities of TB Associations in the TB and Public Health Program of Today," and "A Broadened Scope for Certified Milk."

The 1936-1939 General Files swell with great quantities of material on Hiscock's work with voluntary associations. In this period Hiscock was elected to senior administrative offices in many public health organizations. A new project begun in 1936 stemmed from his appointment as the general director of the experimental health studies and demonstration project for the Boy Scouts, Quinnipiac Council. The project sought to collect information through summer camps on the health problems of scout aged boys. The 1936 and 1937 files contain progress reports on this study. In 1938 Hiscock became a member of the National Council of Boy Scouts of America.

The 1937 A.P.H.A. and the New Haven Community Chest files are particularly voluminous. The A.P.H.A. files contain extensive material on the Institute on Health Education, a workshop to train individuals responsible for health education programs in effective publicity tactics. The Community Chest files are large because of material on Hiscock's fundraising activities as president of the organization. After two years in this position Hiscock had some first hand knowledge of city politics and political maneuvering in New Haven; see his letter to William Court of March 6, 1939 (folder 1481). In 1937, too, Hiscock saw the culmination of many years of effort for regulations concerning pasteurized milk. As of January 1 of that year all milk or cream brought into or produced in New Haven would have to be from certified herds and be pasteurized. In 1938 he continued the effort by lobbying, as a consultant to the Connecticut State Department of Health, for public health supervision of milk supplies.

In 1938 Hiscock was elected president of the National Health Council, Inc. Files for the council in 1939 contain his exchanges with Senators LaFollette, Murray, McGehee and Maloney on behalf of the Wagner national health bill and Titles 5 and 6 of the Social Security Act as well as minutes and reports concerning the council's platform of "principles and proposals relating to the National Health Program."

A 1937 survey illustrates Hiscock's continuing concern with problems stemming from the Depression. The Colorado Springs Community Chest had invited Hiscock to study its area paying particular attention to provisions for medical care for indigent persons. The completed survey was published as A Survey of Public Health Activities in Colorado Springs and El Paso County. During the summer of 1938 Hiscock taught courses on school health programs and preventive medicine at U.C.L.A. While there he published "Observations on Student Health and Physical Education at Colorado College" (folders 1445-1446) based on his work of the previous summer.

The 1939 files of the New Haven Council of Social Agencies contain material from Hiscock's service on the Prenatal Advisory Committee which studied mortality rates of infants and mothers in New Haven. It also examined the problem of financial responsibility for obstetrical service, and the quality of that service in New Haven hospitals. There is a copy of the committee's report, correspondence, and research material (folders 1484-1485).

Series III. OFFICE FILES, 1940-1979, presents a marked contrast to the previous series in quantity, arrangement, and content. Whereas Series II. is composed of seventy-eight boxes covering a period of fifteen years, all the files for the forty years covered by Series III. fill only six boxes. Though Hiscock remained prominent in public health circles on a national level and continued his strenuous voluntary efforts on behalf of public health organizations and various social agencies, the voluminous records of these activities, so characteristic Of Series II., are entirely missing from Series III.

The files in Series III. were apparently kept by the secretary of the Department of Public Health, who had developed a code for filing the papers of individual faculty members. General routine correspondence concerning social engagements and requests for reprints were filed in code "b". Code "h" was established for material concerning Hiscock's military service and includes notices of reserve meetings, assignment sheets, and committee meeting announcements. Speaking engagements, code "d", includes invitations, responses, and some speech texts. Of particular interest are Hiscock's remarks, on the 1954 acceptance of the Massachusetts Public Health Association's Lemuel Shattuck Medal and Certificate (folder 1672) and the A.P.H.A.'s 1962 Sedgwick Memorial Award (folder 1577). In the 1972 correspondence file (folder 1558) are messages to Hiscock on the occasion of a dinner in his honor. Code "e", Writings, documents the establishment of two commemorative awards in Hiscock's honor, the New England Public Health Association's Ira V. Hiscock Award, first presented in 1974, and the Ira V. Hiscock Lecture at the Yale School of Medicine, first delivered by Sir George Godber in 1975 (folder 1610).

The Ira V. Hiscock Papers were donated to Yale University Library by the Department of Public Health of the Yale School of Medicine in 1971. The papers are part of the Contemporary Medical Care and Health Policy Collection. Additional material concerning Hiscock is included in the records of the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, YRG27.

Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research. Some materials related to Yale University located in Box 87 are closed until January 1, 2032.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright status for collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, Yale School of Medicine, 1971.


Arranged in three series: I. Office Files, 1918-1924. II. Office Files, 1925-1939. III. Office Files, 1940-1979.

Majority of material found within 1925 - 1939
36 Linear Feet (87 boxes)
Related Names
Hiscock, Ira V. (Ira Vaughan), 1892-
Language of Materials