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H MS c315

Rutstein, David D. Papers, 1916-1989 (inclusive), 1938-1980 (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


The David D. Rutstein Papers were processed with grant funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, as awarded and administered by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR), 2010.

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: H MS c315
Repository: Center for the History of Medicine (Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine)
Creator: Rutstein, David D. (David Davis), 1909-
Title: David D. Rutstein papers,
Date(s): 1916-1989 (inclusive),
Date(s): 1938-1980 (bulk).
Quantity: 98.25 cubic feet (98 records center cartons and one legal size document box)
Language of materials: Records predominantly in English, with a very small number of records in the Foreign Correspondence Series written in French.
Abstract: Consists of records created by David D. Rutstein (1909-1986) during the course of his career as Chief of the Cardiac Bureau of the New York State Department of Health, Albany (1940-1942), Deputy Commissioner of the New York City Department of Health (1943-1946), and Professor of Preventive Medicine at Harvard Medical School, Boston (1947-1969). The collection also includes records of Rutstein's activities as a researcher, academic, medical school administrator, and contributing member of national and international professional health care boards and foundations.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

  • Accession number 2006-056. 17 October 2006.
  • Accession number 2007-060. 08 June 2007.
  • Processing Information:

    Processed by Michael Dello Iacono, Cheryl Ostrowski and Suzanne Denison August 2010.
    Processing staff in the Center for the History of Medicine analyzed, arranged, and described the records and created a finding aid to improve access to the collection. To enhance preservation, processing staff rehoused the collection and, where necessary, removed rusted staples and paper clips, and photocopied documents onto acid-free paper. Records were removed from hanging files, notebooks, and plastic binders, and were rehoused in acid-free folders. All folder titles were transcribed from the originals. Duplicate records and records that did not meet the collection policy of the Center for the History of Medicine were discarded.

    Conditions Governing Access:

    Access requires advance notice. Access to Harvard University records is restricted for 50 years from the date of creation. Access to personal and patient information is restricted for 80 years from the date of creation. These restrictions are noted where they appear in Series I, II, and VI. Researchers may apply for access to restricted records; please consult Public Services for further information.
    The Papers are stored offsite. Researchers are advised to contact Public Services 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 Public Services. Researchers who obtain permission to publish from Public Services are responsible for identifying and contacting the persons or organizations that hold copyright.

    Preferred Citation:

    David D. Rutstein Papers, 1916-1989 (inclusive), 1938-1980 (bulk), H MS c315. Harvard Medical Library, Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine, Boston, Mass.

    Related Collections in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine, Center for the History of Medicine

    Biographical Notes

    David Davis Rutstein (1909-1986), S.B., 1930, Harvard College, M.D.; 1934, Harvard Medical School, Boston, joined the faculty at Harvard Medical School in 1947 as Professor of Preventive Medicine and was head of the Department of Preventive Medicine until 1969. In 1966, he was appointed the Ridley Watts Professor of Preventive Medicine, and held that position until his retirement in 1975. Rutstein's earlier appointments include serving as Chief of the Cardiac Bureau of the New York State Department of Health, Albany, from 1940 to 1942, Deputy Commissioner of Public Health for the New York City Department of Health from 1943 to 1946, and a consultant in preventive medicine for many hospitals in New York and Massachusetts from the 1940s to the 1970s. Rustein played a national role in the organization of medical care, the integration of preventive medicine into the care of individual patients, and the measurement of medical outcomes. In the 1960s, he directed a study on forming health maintenance programs, lobbied for a change in state laws regarding birth control for the poor, and advocated the use of nurse midwives for delivery. Some of his later studies with the United States Veteran's Administration were on the genetic basis of alcoholism and on standards of health care. In 1955, Rutstein began a forty-episode television series on WGBH-TV (Boston) called, "The Facts of Medicine." This was one of the first uses of television to inform the public about local and national health concerns and current research.
    Born on 05 February 1909 in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, Rutstein's career in academic medicine began after his graduation in 1930 from Harvard College and then from Harvard Medical School in 1934. After clinical training at the Boston City Hospital and Children's Hospital, Boston, he taught at Albany Medical College and the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, before joining the Harvard Medical School faculty in 1947 as Professor of Preventive Medicine. He was head of the Department of Preventive Medicine from 1947 until 1969. During this time, he conducted teaching rounds at the Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Peter Bent Brigham Hospital, Boston, Boston City Hospital, and the Rheumatic Fever Service of the House of the Good Samaritan, Boston. He taught medical students preventive clinical medicine as it interfaces with the basic sciences, as well as epidemiology, experiment design, bioengineering, and health services research.
    Rutstein's clinical and epidemiological work included studies on: cardiovascular and physiological changes resulting from infectious diseases; the treatment of rheumatic fever, as conducted in thirteen research centers in the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada with the goal of measuring ACTH and cortisone in the treatment of rheumatic fever (and as supported by the American Heart Association's Council on Rheumatic Fever and the British Medical Research Council); and later, research on measuring and improving the quality of medical care, as well as studies involving the genetics of alcoholism, as conducted at the United States Veteran's Administration. Rutstein held positions such as President of the American Epidemiological Society, and, in addition to membership in many national medical and scientific professional organizations, was elected to the Council of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Academy of Medicine of France, and the Royal Society of Medicine (London). Awards include the Jubilee Medal of the Swedish Medical Society, the Gold Heart Award and Award of Merit from the American Heart Association, and the French Legion of Honor.
    During the course of his career, Rutstein authored numerous research articles that cover diverse topics such as cardiovascular disease prevention, Rheumatic Fever, and delivery of health care and services. His publications include scientific papers published in national and regional medical journals, and books including Lifetime Health Record (Harvard University Press, 1958), The Coming Revolution in Medicine (MIT Press, 1967), Engineering and Living Systems (MIT Press, 1970), and Blueprint for Medical Care (MIT Press, 1974).
    David D. Rutstein died in 1986, and at the time was survived by his wife, Beverly, a son, David W. Rutstein, a brother, Sydney, a stepdaughter, Ruth Saunders, and two grandchildren.

    Series and Subseries in the Collection

    Scope and Content

    Consists of records created by David D. Rutstein during the course of his career as Professor of Preventive Medicine at Harvard Medical School, Chief of the Cardiac Bureau of the New York State Department of Health, and Deputy Commissioner of the New York City Department of Health from 1943 to 1946. Papers also includes records of Rutstein's activities as a researcher, academic, medical school administrator, and contributing member of national and international professional health care boards and foundations. Includes correspondence files for programs Rutstein initiated within the Department of Preventive Medicine at Harvard Medical School, as well as his work on curriculum development; teaching activities; and plans for a program in community health care at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), Boston. Other professional activitie include: involvement in medical societies, especially the American and Massachusetts Heart Associations and American Council on Rheumatic Fever; consulting and advisory work for a variety of international and national medical bodies, including the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United States Public Health Service, and service as Chairman of the United States-United Kingdom Cooperative Rheumatic Fever Study; research on pneumonia, rheumatic fever, heart and blood vessel diseases, and the dissemination of results to scientists and to the general public through a weekly television program ("The Facts of Medicine") and publications; and lobbying efforts.
    Records relating to Rutstein's time at Harvard contain considerable correspondence with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, and the United States Public Health Service; conference materials and schedules; curriculum committee records, such as minutes, memoranda, correspondence, proposals, and reports; faculty meeting dockets and related materials; lecture schedules, correspondence with students, class rosters for the Health Resources program, and other teaching papers; departmental records, such as budgets and recommendations for tenure; and correspondence relating to committees he served on, including the Harvard-MGH Committee on Family Health and Medical Care Program, a community health program at Boston City Hospital, and other subjects. Also includes correspondence and related material concerning his Lowell Institute for Cooperative Broadcasting (WGBH Boston) lectures; his advisory and other work for the National Academy of Engineering, the New York State Health Department, and Boston area hospitals and professional societies; subject files for the WGBH television program, "The Facts of Medicine," including fan mail, transcripts, and drafts; correspondence, notes, statements, reports, newspaper articles, and other printed material related to legislation; and drafts of articles and miscellaneous publications, such as notes related to his articles published on occupational diseases.
    Rutstein's personal records include photographs, awards, correspondence, notebooks, letter and other memorabilia.
    Materials predominantly in English, with a very small number of records in the Foreign Correspondence Series written in French.

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