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Delta Omega


By Gerard J. Shorb, Johns Hopkins University

Part 3: Years of Growth

The next fifteen years (1927 to 1942) were prosperous ones for Delta Omega both on the national level and at Alpha Chapter. The Society republished several classic works in the history of public health. These classics were then distributed to the membership free or sold at cost. During this time, Delta Omega continued to elect outstanding students, faculty, and honorary members into the Society. Finally, the Society began sponsoring informative lectures at the national meetings of the American Public Health Association.

The first of the classic republications that Delta Omega sponsored was William Budd's work Typhoid Fever-Its Nature, Mode of Spreading and Prevention. This important study, first published in 1873, had been sought in vain for many years for use in public health teaching.29 Delta Omega arranged for the republication of 800 standard copies and 35 deluxe editions in 1931.

The second classic re-issued was Snow on Cholera. This work, republished in 1936, was a reprint of two rare papers on cholera by John Snow, the pioneer epidemiologist, that appeared respectively in 1853 and 1855. These papers were republished together, along with a biographical memoir by B.W. Richardson, originally published in 1887. The new issue also included an introduction by Wade Hampton Frost, the noted Hopkins epidemiologist. Dr. Frost noted in the introduction that Snow's two studies were nearly perfect models of the proper analysis of the epidemiology of cholera. Delta Omega arranged for the printing of 1000 copies.30

The third classic republished was Peter Ludwig Panum's Observations During the Epidemic of Measles in the Faroe Islands in 1846. Edgar Hume once stated that this study, previously available only in the original Danish, was, "the basis for much of our present teaching regarding the study of measles."31 This re-issue was of the English translation by Ada Sommerville Hatcher. It also contained a Biographical Memoir by Julius Jacob Peterson, translated from the Danish by Joseph Dimont. Delta Omega issued 850 copies of this edition in 1940. The work also included an introduction by James Angus Doull, a charter member of the Society. This was the first time that this work was available in book form.

Between 1927 and 1942, the national Delta Omega Society inducted over 600 members. Six of these were new honorary members. The first person in this group of honorary members included Charles V. Chapin, Superintendent of Health at Providence, Rhode Island. Chapin was also the 1927 President of the American Public Health Association. In 1929 the group received into honorary membership Hugh S. Cummings, former Surgeon General. Cummings became the President of the American Public Health Association in 1931. Also in 1929, the Society elected Frederick F. Russell, former Director of the International Health Division of the Rockefeller Foundation. The final honoree that year was former United States President Herbert Hoover who received honorary membership for his work in child health. In 1930, the Society honored George W. McCoy, the Director of the National Institute of Health and in 1931 they inducted Professor Mazyck P. Ravenel from the University of Missouri.

In 1939, the National Society sponsored the first in a series of Delta Omega Lectures. Milton J. Rosenau gave the first lecture at the American Public Health Association national meeting held in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania at the Hotel Fort Pitt. Rosenau, Professor of Preventive Medicine at Harvard, entitled his talk "New Lamps for Old."32

The second lecture was in Detroit in 1940 on the topic, "The Way of Health" by Dr. Henry Frieze Vaughan, the Dean of the School of Public Health at the University of Michigan.33

In 1941, and subsequent years, the national lectures were curtailed due to the war. They resumed again, however, within a few years.

The local chapters sponsored other lectures throughout this time period. The Beta Chapter at Harvard and the Gamma Chapter at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology held joint meetings yearly. At these functions, leaders in public health gave scholarly lectures. The speakers at these gatherings included Sir William Wilson Jameson, Victor George Heiser, Henry Frieze Vaughan, Edgar E. Hume, Frank Boudreau, Thomas Parren, Lewis Hackett, Eugene Bishop, Johannes Henrik Bauer, Lewis Wendall Hackett, Frank George Boudreau, George Clark Dunham, George King Strode and Kenneth Maxcy.

Alpha Chapter was also busy during this time. The group continued to elect new members and to hold dinner meetings to welcome them. They also used the occasion to have speakers on timely topics. Among the distinguished speakers at these gatherings were Sanford Larkey, the medical historian and librarian, who spoke on "The Life of Daniel Drake."34 Marcelino Pascua, former General Director of Public Health for Spain, lectured on "Politics and Public Health."35 William Henry Howell spoke on "The Founding and Early Development of The Johns Hopkins University."36 Henry Sigerist gave a talk on his relationship with Dr. Nikolai Alexandovin Semashko, First Commissioner of Public Health in the Soviet Union.37 Other speakers were C-E.A. Winslow of Yale and Huntington Williams from the Baltimore City Health Department. The first public lecture sponsored by the Alpha Chapter was on March 1, 1938. This was in conjunction with a dinner at The Johns Hopkins Club for the purpose of inducting Thomas Parren Jr. into honorary membership into the Society. Parren Jr., Surgeon General of the United States Public Health Service, spoke at the School before an audience of about 350. His topic was "A Forward Look at National Health."38

The Alpha Chapter Presidents in this time period were the following: Persis Putnam from 1926 to 1927, Lowell Reed from 1927 to 1928, Allen W. Freeman from 1928 to 1929, Janet Clark from 1929 to 1930, W. W. Cort from 1930 to 1931, Samuel Reed Damon from 1931 to 1932, Roscoe Hyde from 1932 to 1933, Lowell Reed again from 1933 to 1934, Harry Mustard from 1934 to 1935, Justin M. Andrews from 1935 to 1936, Miriam Bailey from 1936 to 1937, John J. Phair from 1937 to 1938, Kenneth Maxcy from 1938 to 1939, Allen Freeman from 1939 to 1940, Thomas Turner from 1940 to 1941, W. W. Cort again from 1941 to 1942 and Kenneth Maxcy in 1942. In 1942, the Alpha Chapter suspended operations.