May Eliot (b. April 7, 1891 in Dorchester, d. February 14, 1978
Pediatrician, Public Health Administrator, Educator
Martha May Eliot was born in 1891 in Dorchester to Christopher Rhodes Eliot, a Unitarian minister, and Mary Jackson May. She attended Radcliffe College in Cambridge, graduating in 1913, the same year as her friend and life-partner, Ethel Collins Dunham, who like Eliot, went on in pediatrics and received her M.D. degree from Johns Hopkins University in 1918. After a residency in pediatrics at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston, May was appointed as a resident at Yale University and rose through the ranks to a position on the faculty.
With Dr Edwards Park she developed a treatment for rickets using cod-liver oil, vitamin D and exposure to sun. In 1924, she was named director of the Division of Child and Maternal Health at the U.S. Children’s Bureau on a part-time basis while she continued to teach and practice at Yale, but moved to Washington when she was appointed to the full time position of assistant chief at the bureau.
During the Second World War, she studied the effects of moving children out of the cities to the countryside in England and published a book on the subject. She also headed a federal program, Emergency Maternity and Infant Care, which provided health care and assistance for wives and infants of armed forces personnel for which she was awarded the Lasker prize in 1948. She was the first woman to be elected president of the American Public Health Association in 1947.
In 1948, she was elected president of the National Conference on Social Welfare. She was the first woman ever awarded the American Public Health Association's Sedgewick Memorial Medal, in 1958. Soon after the war, Eliot was a member of the group that founded the World Health Organization, the only woman to sign its founding document. She left the Children’s Bureau to serve as assistant director general of W.H.O. in Geneva from1949 to1951. On her return, she was appointed chief of the Children’s Bureau. When she left the Bureau in 1956, she became chair of the School of Public Health at Harvard Medical School until her retirement in 1960. She introduced the use of social workers into public health programs. In 1964 the American Public Health Association established an annual award in her name to recognize her achievements in maternal and child health. In 1972, she was awarded the prestigious Howland prize by that organization, the first woman to receive it.
Reference: Phyllis J. Read and Bernard L. Witlieb, The Book of Women’s Firsts (1992); “Changing the Face of Medicine” National Library of Medicine web site. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/changingthefaceofmedicine/physicians/biography_99.html
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Olivia (Bradshaw) Evelyn (b. 1921)
African-American activist, city employee, volunteer
Zelma Olivia (Bradshaw) Evelyn was born in 1921 to Reginald Bradshaw and Estelle Olivia (Bourne) Bradshaw. She married Frank Louis Evelyn and had one son, Robert Evelyn. She worked for the City of Cambridge for forty years, including four years as secretarial assistant to Ken Reeves during his first two terms as mayor (1992-1996) and as a secretary in the auditor’s office for 15 years. Evelyn has served on the boards of the YWCA, the Margaret Fuller House, CASPAR, and Family and Children Services. She has been an influential member of St. Paul AME Church for more than 50 years, and has served as a trustee on the Board of Trustees for 38 years. As church historian for 40 years, she researched and wrote two books marking St. Paul’s 105th and 110th anniversaries. Evelyn is one of the founders of the Black Heritage Trail in Cambridge. Zelma Evelyn has been recognized with numerous awards for her community and church involvement , including a “Friend of the Library” award, the Sojourner Truth Award, the Pillar of Strength award, Tribute to Exceptional Women Award, and the Cambridge NAACP “Drum Major for Justice” Award, when she was praised as “our Rosa Parks” and “the jewel of the city.” Evelyn Square, at the corner of Walden and Garden streets, was dedicated to Zelma Olivia Evelyn and her late husband, Frank Louis Evelyn, on June 13, 2009.
References: Cambridge Chronicle, January 20, 2005; Cambridge Public Library Annual Report FY99
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Ewing (b. July 27, 1946 in Boston)
Labor and community activist, educator
Tess Ewing was one of a group of women that occupied the Harvard-owned building at 888 Memorial Drive in 1971, at which demands were made to address women's issues including the demand for a women's center, affordable housing, and child care. The event later resulted in a donation of money that was used as down payment for a building at 46 Pleasant Street, and the Cambridge Women’s Center was founded in 1972. Ewing was one of the founders of the Cambridge Women’s Center, and of the Cambridge Women’s School that operated for several years out of the Center. Before the building takeover, she was active in Bread and Roses, a Boston area women’s liberation organization.
Ewing has been a labor activist since the mid 1970’s, when she was one of the organizers of the Boston School Bus Drivers Union (USWA Local 8751). She was a school bus driver for thirteen years, during which she served two terms as local union president. Following that, she worked for the laundry workers’ union (LDCIU Local 66), as business agent. She also served as president of that local for two years.
During the 1980s, Ewing became involved in training and educating union members, mostly through the Women's Institute for Leadership Development (WILD) an organization whose mission is to give working women, especially women of color, the skills to become activists and leaders in their unions. When UMass started a Labor Extension Program, she became coordinator of the program on the Boston campus. In this capacity, she continues the work of educating union members and other working people about their rights and how to exercise them effectively. She has hosted a program on the Cambridge local access channel on women and labor issues. She has served as secretary and treasurer of the United Association for Labor Education (UALE), the professional association of labor educators, and treasurer of the Gay and Lesbian Labor Activists Network (GALLAN), and is a member of the Board of WILD.
Ewing lives in Cambridge with her partner of 33 years, Louise Rice. Together they have raised two sons: Jethro Rice, 38, who is currently living in Vietnam with his wife Kanako Matsumoto; and Dan Rice, 36, who lives in Maryland with his wife Thulie and two children, Kali and Avery.
Tess Ewing staff biography (autobiographical statement), College of Public and Community Service, UMass Boston. http://www.cpcs.umb.edu/directory/staff/ewing.htm
Tess Ewing, personal communication.
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Women's Heritage Project
March 27, 2007