ConnectiCOSH

The state’s only coalition fighting for safe and healthy workplaces and communities.

Alice Hamilton

Each year ConnectiCOSH honors the life and accomplishments of Dr. Alice Hamilton. Born on February 27, 1869, she led an incredibly distinguished and meaningful career. Connecticut was home for much of her life until her passing in East Haddam in 1970 at the age of 101. Dr. Hamilton was a pioneer in the fields of Toxicology and Industrial Medicine, focusing on identifying and documenting the very serious health effects of occupational exposure to toxic substances such as lead, mercury, and radium. Her work was instrumental in the fights to reduce these exposures in Connecticut workplaces, particularly among felt hat workers in Danbury and the “Radium Girls” in Waterbury. Significant in Alice Hamilton’s education and lifelong commitment to preventing occupational disease were her years spent at Hull House, the Chicago settlement house founded by social reformer Jane Adams. Living with the poor residents she became very aware of the occupational illnesses and injuries faced by workers in 1919 Dr. Hamilton was hired by Harvard University to head the School of Medicine’s newly formed Department of Industrial Medicine. She was the first woman appointed to the faculty at Harvard. But despite the status of her position her gender excluded her from being able to participate in social activities and the all-male faculty graduation processions.In addition to her brilliance as a scientist and doctor, Hamilton was a peace activist and a strong advocate for civil liberties, and womens’ and labor rights. We who continue the commitment to safe and healthy workplaces are deeply inspired by Alice Hamilton, and so grateful for the knowledge and wisdom she imparted.