“If This Sterilizer Could Talk: Public Health, Milk and Museum Artifacts” Virtual Lecture on Monday, January 23

As part of the Ruth and John Moskop History of Medicine Lecture Series, the Medical History Interest Group invites you to attend If This Sterilizer Could Talk: Public Health, Milk and Museum Artifacts on January 23. This lecture, presented by Tegan Kehoe, MA, Exhibit and Education Specialist at the Paul S. Russell, MD Museum of Medical History and Innovation, begins at 12 p.m. on Microsoft Teams.

Please to register here to attend this event.


The Topic:

Steam power ran the engines of the Industrial Revolution, but in the latter part of the nineteenth century, steam was harnessed in a different transformation. Milk pasteurized using steam sterilizers was one of the first ways that the germ theory revolution reached average Americans’ homes. One such steam sterilizer is in the Country Doctor Museum, which is part of Laupus Health Sciences Library’s history collections. Sterilizing milk also generated a public health controversy: at what point in the process from cow to table should milk be made safe to drink?

In this presentation, historian Tegan Kehoe will explore the history behind this question, drawing from the chapter featuring the museum’s steam sterilizer in her new book Exploring American Healthcare through 50 Historic Treasures. The book looks at the history of health and medicine through the lens of artifacts in museums and libraries across the country. The presentation will illuminate the important role that milk played in late nineteenth-century debates about safe food and child health and include other examples of artifacts related to public health controversies of the past.

Tegan Kehoe, MA

The Speaker:

Tegan Kehoe is a public historian specializing in healthcare and science. She is the Exhibit and Education Specialist at the Paul S. Russell, MD Museum of Medical History and Innovation at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Her exhibits there have ranged from a temporary exhibit for an innovation festival that used xylophones to explain how anesthesia affects the brain, to a display of the personal items belonging to a WWI nurse.

Kehoe writes about scientific and social history and topics related to museums and archives. She edited a newsletter column on medical museums for three years. Her research interests include material culture in the history of medicine, interpretation strategies for histories of medicine and the body, and the history of scientific study methodologies from the perspectives of shifting power structures and of changes in the epistemology of science. She received her M.A. in History and Museum Studies from Tufts University.

More Information:

This event is free and open to the public.

Lectures may be video recorded.

Learn more about the MHIG lectures and view an archive of previous recordings.