Sedgwick Award

Sedgwick Award

Dr William Shaffner–November 2010

Sedgwick-book-iconSedgwick_book_plate Sedgwick_note_icon Sedgwick_quote Dr. William Shaffner received the Sedgwick Memorial Medal in November 2010 for his meritorious work in Vaccine Advocacy. Professor William Thompson Sedgwick ScD was the 1915 APHA President and the most prestigious APHA Award – The Sedgwick Memorial Medal is named in his honor. In accepting the award, Dr. Shaffner gave the following remarks: This was but one of the numerous recognitions of the Awards Evening – and the recipients from local, national and global, underscored the breadth of dedication and professional talent. There is a “back story” though that coincided with the Sedgwick Award. For I had just purchased and received a first printing of “Hygiene in America Centennial Discourse on Public Hygiene and State Preventive Medicine” by Henry I Bowditch, MD. This is a printed account of the address delivered before the International Medical Congress in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in September 1876. I had read many references to Dr. Bowditch’s talk by various authors of the day citing this as a landmark address and one based on a systematic thorough review of public health of the day. It was a great pleasure to open the book which, in the words of Bowditch, he was “requested to speak on Public Hygiene and State Preventive Medicine as they appear to an observer looking back upon this centennial period of our country which has just closed”. There was an additional reward in turning to the first pages – as handwritten on the flyleaf is inscribed “W T Sedgwick, Bought Second Hand 1904”. Beneath Professor Sedgwick’s entry there is a further inscription dated Dec 5 1877 reads Sedgwick_note_in_book A presentation note from the original owner of the book given the date of Dec 5 1877, the year of publication – who is this? And who was his “ friend ..in Preventive Medicine in Massachusetts”? So from the hands of one public health friend in 1877 – through Professor Sedgwick’s, and, judging by the Book Plate, into the MIT Library. I was gratified to have it in my hands as bought “fourth hand or fifth hand” some 133 years after the first presentation. And coming full circle to shortly thereafter attend the Awards Evening and to hear the words of the 2010 Sedgwick Memorial Award recipient. Indeed full circle but part of an evergreen and renewable cycle of public health and APHA.