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H MS c316

Langmuir, Alexander D. Papers, 1953-1972 (inclusive), 1965-1970 (bulk): Finding Aid.

Center for the History of Medicine (Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine)

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Center for the History of Medicine (Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine)

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: H MS c316
Repository: Center for the History of Medicine (Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine)
Creator: Langmuir, Alexander D.
Title: Alexander D. Langmuir Papers,
Date(s): 1953-1972 (inclusive),
Date(s): 1965-1970 (bulk).
Quantity: 2.33 cubic feet (3 record cartons).)
Language of materials: English
Abstract: Alexander D. Langmuir (1910-1993), AB, 1931, Harvard College; MD, 1935, Cornell University; MPH, 1940, Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health, was Professor of Epidemiology at Harvard Medical School from 1970 to 1977 and chief epidemiologist for the Epidemiology Branch of the Public Health Service of the National Communicable Disease Center (later the Centers for Disease Control, or CDC) from 1949 to 1970. Papers chronicle Langmuir's activities as chief epidemiologist through memoranda, writings, and reprints.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

  • Accession number 2002-030.
  • Processing Information:

    Processed by Lindsay Bush Lindsay under the direction of the Collections Services Archivist, July, 2009.
    Processing staff in the Center for the History of Medicine analyzed, arranged, and described the papers, and created a finding aid to improve access. Items were removed from three ring binders and, where necessary, photocopied to acid-free paper.

    Conditions Governing Access:

    Access requires advance notice. There are no restrictions on this collection. Contact the Public Services Librarian for further information.
    The Papers are stored offsite. Researchers are advised to contact reference staff for more information concerning retrieval of material.

    Conditions Governing Use:

    The Harvard Medical Library does not hold copyright on all the materials in the collection. Requests for permission to publish material from the collection should be directed to the Public Services Librarian. Researchers who obtain permission to publish from the Public Services Librarian are responsible for identifying and contacting the persons or organizations that hold copyright.Reference Services and Access Information.

    Preferred Citation:

    Alexander D. Langmuir papers, 1953-1972 (inclusive), 1965-1970 (bulk). H MS c316. Harvard Medical Library, Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine, Boston, Mass.

    Related Papers at Other Institutions

    The Alexander D. Langmuir Collection can be found at Alan Mason Chesney Medical Archives, Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions.

    Biographical Notes/Historical Notes

    Alexander D. Langmuir (1910-1993), AB, 1931, Harvard College; MD, 1935, Cornell University; MPH, 1940, Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health, was Professor of Epidemiology at Harvard Medical School from 1970 to 1977 and chief epidemiologist for the Epidemiology Branch of the Public Health Service of the National Communicable Disease Center (later the Centers for Disease Control, or CDC) from 1949 to 1970.
    Alexander Duncan Langmuir was born in Santa Monica, California in 1910. Greatly influenced by his uncle, Irving Langmuir, who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1932, he went into the medical field. He received an A.B. from Harvard College in 1931, an M.D. from Cornell University Medical College in 1935, and his M.P.H. from John Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health in 1940. From 1942 to 1946, Langmuir worked for the New York State Health Department in Albany, serving as the Deputy Commissioner of Health for Westchester County. During World War II, he was a member of the Army's Commission on Acute Respiratory Diseases at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. After the war, Langmuir served as an Associate Professor of Epidemiology at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore (1946 to 1949) and a Clinical Professor of Preventive Medicine and Community Health at Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta (1950 to 1970). During this time, Langmuir also served as the chief epidemiologist for the National Communicable Disease Center. During his directorship, Langmuir defined disease surveillance, establishing a model that was accepted globally, and in 1961, he implemented the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report of the CDC to disseminate public health data and research results.
    Langmuir is widely known for his work on developing surveillance techniques for monitoring and controlling disease, resulting in the creation of the Epidemiological Intelligence Service in 1951. In 1952, he convened the first Conference of State and Territorial Epidemiologists. Langmuir wrote extensively on all phases of epidemiology on a global basis and was recognized internationally as a leading contributor in epidemiology. He contributed to the radiation studies that followed the bombings at Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the global smallpox eradication program. In later years, he criticized the CDC's tracking of the spread of AIDS. During his lifetime, he received awards from the Charles A. Dana Foundation for pioneering achievements in public health, the American Public Health Association, and the Royal Society of Medicine in England. Langmuir became a Professor of Epidemiology at Harvard Medical School in 1970, where he remained until 1977. He served as a visiting professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health from 1988 until his death in 1993.
    Langmuir married Sarah Ann Harper (d. 1969) in 1940 and had five children: Ann Ruggles (b. 1941); Paul Harper (b. 1942); Susan Davis (b. 1945); Lynn Adams (b. 1951); and Jane Adams (b. 1954). In 1970, he married Leona Baumgartner (1902-1991), the first woman to serve as Commissioner of Health of New York City. Langmuir died of kidney cancer in 1993 in Baltimore.

    Series and Subseries in the Collection

    Scope and Content

    Papers are the product of Alexander D. Langmuir's activities as chief epidemiologist for the National Communicable Disease Center (now the Centers for Disease Control, or CDC) through memoranda, writings, and reprints. Series I (Epidemic Aid Memoranda) represents the bulk of the collection, and consists of memoranda chronicling epidemics throughout the United States from 1953 to 1972. Series II consists of reprints of articles issued between 1963 and 1969 that were authored or co-authored by service officers of the Epidemiology Branch within the CDC, including editorials and publications relating to studies conducted by the CDC and discussed in the epidemic aid memoranda, as well as publications resulting from conferences attended by CDC service members. Langmuir's 1963 Cutter Lecture on Preventative Disease is included in the reprints.
    Also included in the papers is a typescript copy of the unpublished manuscript, Medical Leader of the Nineteenth Century: Career of Dr. Samuel Merrifield Bemiss by Lincoln Lorenz.Dr. Samuel Merrifield Bemiss was a pioneering contributor in the fields of public health, medicine, and medical journalism. The author, Lorenz, was a Harvard alumnus; his relationship to Langmuir is unknown.

    Container List

    Additional Index Terms

    Langmuir, Alexander D.

    med00116