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Objects of Affection

Objects of Affection

The Bloomberg School’s 100-year history is revealed through essential—and whimsical—public health objects.

“Show, don’t tell” is a time-honored storytelling rule that serves us well as our School celebrates its Centennial. The historically rich feature article “Objects of Affection” in the current issue of Johns Hopkins Public Health presents all manner of mementos and keepsakes paired with bite-sized background info.  

Here’s a few of our personal faves that span the century: There’s the diary of founding dean William H. Welch that describes his travels around China and Japan in 1915; a box of Thins (condoms) from the education blitz for preventing venereal diseases during World War II; and a drowning prevention bracelet that researchers use now, in 2015, to save children’s lives in Bangladesh.

Alumni joined in the fun by sharing their own personal public health touchstones in the special online extra “Object Lessons.” Their submissions symbolize wide-ranging but deep commitments to public health. 

For instance, Sarah Clarke, MSPH ’13, who now works at a refugee resettlement center, is sentimental about health insurance cards. “I keep these cards on my wall as a reminder of why I joined the public health field: because access to health care is a universal human right, not a commodity to be bought and sold by those most privileged,” she writes.

Another alumna, Lisa Folda, MHS ’05, shares a photograph of a 4-year-old boy from her Peace Corp volunteer days in Madagascar over 10 years ago. “Without any way for him to know it, Nelson’s image has become a long-term touchstone for my purpose in public health, and I hope to continue to work hard to feel like I am doing right by him” says Folda, assistant director of the undergraduate Public Health Studies major at Johns Hopkins University.

The gadgets and passports, spandex suits and zinc tablets all reinforce one narrative: the School’s century of impact on global health.

Keep in touch with the Centennial and ongoing activities.

—Salma Warshanna-Sparklin