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Elizabeth Fee – #DiversityInHealthCare

Diversity in Healthcare

Elizabeth Fee, PhD, was an influential historian of science, medicine, and public health.

Dr. Fee began teaching at the State University of New York at Binghamton and was extremely popular as a scholar of science and medical history, as well as new and controversial courses in human sexuality.

From 1974 to 1995, Dr. Fee was a professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health (now Bloomberg School). She worked in departments including health humanities, international health, and health policy. During her tenure at Johns Hopkins, Dr. Fee wrote a history of the School of Public Health, Disease and Discovery: A History of the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health, 1916–1939. This is considered the first “biography” of the first school of public health, and it documented power networks in a supposedly technocratic field.

Baltimore is also where Dr. Fee met and fell in love with her lifetime partner and wife, Mary Garafolo, an artist and a nurse. They married in Vancouver, Canada, in 2005.

Dr. Fee joined the National Library of Medicine (NLM) from 1995 to 2018 as Chief of the NLM History of Medicine Division. She oversaw moves to restructure the organization around three sections: Rare Books and Early Manuscripts, Images and Archives, and Exhibitions. She was appointed Chief Historian of the National Library of Medicine in 2011.

Over the course of her entire career, Dr. Fee authored, co-authored, edited, or co-edited nearly thirty scholarly books and hundreds of articles, on topics as varied as the racialized treatment of syphilis, the history of the toothbrush, and bioterrorism. She became particularly well known for her work to document and analyze the history of HIV/AIDS. Dr. Fee coedited two groundbreaking volumes on AIDS, as it was becoming a global modern plague: AIDS: The Burden of History (1988) and AIDS: The Making of a Chronic Disease (1992). Her work informed scholarship on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer health and wellbeing.

Shortly before her death Dr. Fee retired to become an independent researcher in 2018. She died from complications of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ASL) in October 2018.

Info sources: Elizabeth Fee (The Lancet), Elizabeth Fee (1946-2018) (AJPH), and NLM Mourns the Loss of Elizabeth Fee, PhD, former Chief of the NLM History of Medicine Division (NLM).

Photo source: The Lancet via: https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(18)32832-0

 

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