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Gunn’s Early Years in America

Gunn’s Early Years in America

Selskar Gunn’s father decided that the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) was the school that his son should attend upon hearing General Francis Amasa Walker speak in 1891 when Selskar was only 8 years old! Walker, who had risen from an enlisted man in the Union Army to the rank of brigadier general at the age of twenty-five, was President of MIT, a position that he held from 1881 until his death in 1897.

MIT’s requirements for admission in 1900 were few: applicants had to be at least 16 years old and demonstrate a good training in arithmetic, algebra, geometry, English grammar, geography, and the rudiments of French. Also required was that the applicant write in “a rapid and legible hand.” Gunn’s education was more than sufficient to meet these requirements. The private tutors in Ireland and Kensington Park College, London (1897 – 1900) had done their job. Out of this education he had cultivated a fine memory and excellent Latin which facilitated his learning of French and other foreign languages later in his life.

Gunn enrolled as an Electrical Engineering student in 1900. It was Walker who told Gunn’s father about the advantages of an electrical engineering degree. However, Gunn found that he was not really interested in engineering. By chance he heard of a professor “who was so popular that his classes were always crowded even with men who were not taking his course.” He looked in and liked what he heard and saw. The professor was William Thompson Sedgwick, head of the department of biology. After a long talk with Sedgwick, Gunn changed his program and enrolled in the course of biology.

Public health was ill defined when Selskar Gunn first arrived in America in 1900. It is doubtful that he appreciated that fact or that by enrolling in Sedgwick’s course he would find himself in the forefront of this field in the decades that followed. MIT was considered by many at the time to be the best school for preparing students for a career in public health. This was due Sedgwick, an inspiring teacher, as Gunn learned firsthand. Sedgwick knew how to present subjects in a way that challenged his students and attracted their interest. As one of his most well-known students, Charles-E. A. Winslow (MIT class of 1898) described it:

The whole world, past and present, was in the background of his thoughts. He would take a simple fact and turn it this way and that, and play with it, and toss it in the air, so that it caught the light from a hundred different sources.

Intent on a career in medicine, Sedgwick entered the Yale School of Medicine in 1877 where he quickly realized that there was nothing to be learned there! As he put it:

I shall never forget my regret that I had been born too late, for I gathered from the tone of the textbook and the teacher that everything in physiology was already known, so there was therefore nothing under debate, nothing to be settled, nothing to be discovered.

He sidestepped medicine and entered the field of biology, obtaining his PhD from Johns Hopkins in 1881. In 1883 he couldn’t refuse the offer from an old teacher and friend to take the chair of biology at MIT. With medicine still a major preoccupation, Sedgwick designed a four-year course in biology for prospective medical students. This came to naught for the simple reason that no medical school at the time required any specialized training before accepting students. Fortunately it was around this time that the fruits of Pasteur’s and Koch’s research were beginning to be appreciated. Sedgwick turned his interests to bacteriology where he quickly gained prominence, especially with studies that traced where and how typhoid germs entered into drinking water and what steps were needed to keep water safe, studies that led Winslow to say: “Sedgwick was indeed the first scientific American epidemiologist.”

The breadth of the MIT curriculum can be judged from that of Sedgwick, as reflected in his remarks at a meeting of the Biological Society:

The behavior of bacteria, the behavior of the larger microscopical organisms, the behavior of mankind as individuals and as nations, our reactions to climate, reactions to poverty and wealth, reactions to industry and idleness; reactions to polluted water, to smoke, to sunlight, to darkness; these are some of the problems which are today beginning to  absorb the attention of mankind as never before.

Also important in Sedgwick’s approach to education was his passion for tracing the historic development of knowledge. This led him to organize a series of lectures on the history of science for students in the departments of biology and physics, the first of its kind in America.

In 1903 Gunn was obliged to return home. The nephew that Gunn’s father had selected to take over his business interests had squandered the family fortunes. Fortunately, Bessie Gunn had managed to save some of her legacy which was untouched. This was used to send Gunn back to MIT where he continued his studies, obtaining his B.S. degree in biology in 1905. His thesis was entitled Lactic acid and some investigations of its production; Professor Samuel C. Prescott was his supervisor.

Exactly what courses Gunn took is not recorded. Biology, sanitary science, public health, anthropology, the history of natural sciences, courses that Sedgwick himself taught, were certain to have been part of his curriculum. Some of the most eminent public health figures of the time taught on a part time basis. Of particular importance was Charles Chapin, a close friend of Sedgwick. Together they helped shape the practice of epidemiology and the use of statistical methods, courses that in time Gunn would teach as well.

Gunn’s nickname was “Gunny” at MIT. Later he would be known as “Mike.” His classmate Earle L. Ovington, who went by the name “Volts,” became an engineering assistant to Thomas A. Edison in New Jersey before training as a pilot. He was one of the earliest pilots to carry air mail. Later he opened a flying service in Atlantic   City which took passengers up in seaplanes for a fee. At some point, probably before he left for France in 1917, Gunn introduced the famous American doctor William Welch to Ovington which resulted in Welch taking one flight piloted by Ovington on August 25, 1919. Welch, however, embroidered on this story a bit. He claimed to his friends and relatives that he had taken lessons, flown solo and received his pilot’s license, citing Gunn’s name to his biographers as being responsible for arranging the lessons with Ovington. Gunn was certain that Welch did not take any lessons but it was only after Welch’s death that the certificate of the flight, with Welch as a passenger, was uncovered!

Gunn had time for other activities. Not only did he play pool with his friends, he served as President of MIT’s British Empire Association. Given his strong Irish roots and temperament, this would seem to suggest an effort on his part either to please his mother or to gain more respectability in the eyes of his colleagues, as the Irish had a rather poor reputation in America at the time.

Gunn played in numerous theatrical productions and it was even reported on his graduation from MIT in 1905 that he was an assistant business manager of a theatrical company in England and that he intended to “visit Boston with his company some time during the present year.”

Gunn’s first job was as a bacteriologist at the Boston Bacteriological Lab which was run by his thesis advisor, Prescott. There he was mainly responsible for carrying out farm inspections. He held this job for a year before moving to Des Moines where he was a lecturer on Hygiene at the University of Iowa as well as 1st Assistant Bacteriologist for the State Board of Health.

He earned little which led him to live with a family. He entertained them and his colleagues by singing Irish songs and playing the piano. He continued his amateur acting, which attracted the notice of the local press. The Iowa State Daily Press reported on his presence in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night very favorably:

Dr. Selskar M. Gunn, with experience in England to aid him, was seen as “Sir Andrew Aguecheek”, and won uniform appreciation. He also helped in connection with Miss Ethel Elliott in the developing of the entire cast.

The Iowa State Citizen judged the production to be a “great hit” and Gunn’s acting a “close second” to that of Walter Stewart who played Sir Toby.

In a ranking of public work in Iowa, the ‘protection of public health’ followed that of ‘public highways and property’, ‘importance of good roads’, and ‘relief of the poor’. The responsibilities of Iowan township trustees as far as public health was concerned were defined in these terms:

Health is protected by proper attention to sanitation and to the prevention and spread of contagious diseases. The trustees act as the board of health for the township, and as such they may pass regulations concerning nuisances which are injurious to the health, and may compel the removal of filth, rubbish or other insanitary accumulations which breed disease germs or otherwise impair the health. They may check the spread of contagious diseases by requiring persons to be vaccinated and by enforcing quarantine regulations. A great deal has been accomplished by boards of health, but public health can be best promoted by the intelligent help of private citizens. Sanitation in rural districts is largely a household matter. Much can be done in the homes in the disposal of garbage, the ventilation of rooms, and in cleaning and disinfecting all germ-breeding places. Thousands of human lives have been saved by careful attention to sanitation. Every citizen ought to cooperate loyally with the board of health and with every agency in the fight against disease. (Iowa and the Nation)

Despite the apparent completeness of these functions, Chapin judged that Iowa was “far from taking its proper position in sanitary affairs.” One reason was the poor record of the State Board of Health. In his survey of State Boards of Health conducted in 1914 and 1915, Chapin gave Iowa, a score of 225 (out of a thousand) as compared to Massachusetts, which received the highest nationwide score of 745.

Gunn left Iowa in March 1908 to accept the position of Health Officer in Orange City, New Jersey, a position “to which was attached a considerable increase in salary,” as noted at the time in Iowa. Sedgwick is credited with having gained Gunn this appointment.

A Health Officer, according to Sedgwick, was “a man who knows well the great basic principles of sanitary science and the laws of public health. He may, or may not, be a physician; he may or may not be an engineer, or a chemist or a biologist; he may not even be anything but the rarest of combinations, a wise, earnest, honest, able, energetic and tactful executive. But whatever he is or is not, he must at least have a sound working acquaintance with the underlying principles of the protection and promotion of the public health, wedded to a belief in the importance and the validity of the cause he represents.”

In the same talk, Sedgwick informed his audience about how following the resignation of Orange, NL’s Health Officer, “a young biologist who had served them for two years and is now only five years out of his technical school” was honored by “a public dinner – the first ever thus given to an official of Orange – which was attended by the Mayor and others, who spoke with high appreciation of the peculiar value of his services to that city.”

Sedgwick was speaking about Gunn, of course. His use of the word ‘peculiar’ suggests that he knew of the many dramatic situations in which Gunn found himself, for example, convincing a family with a child sick with typhoid fever to allow him to take her to a hospital, which he did but only with the aid of the police and the use of a rented car in which the whole family travelled. On another occasion he was called by the police to help deal with what seemed to be a rabid dog that a group of school children had found. When the dog ran out of the territory that the police had jurisdiction over, Gunn jumped on his bicycle to follow it. When the dog finally stopped running, “Selskar dismounted and crept slowly up to him saying words that dogs seem to know about. He took him to the lab and found his only fault was a fondness for ferry rides (where he had been first spotted) at an indiscreet hour when the evening newspapers were too full of hydrophobia scare.”

While working in Orange he met his first wife, Clara Josephine Coffin. They were married on November 15, 1911 in South Orange, NJ. That same day Gunn presented a paper on Economy and Efficiency in Municipal Health-Administration Work at the 17th Annual Meeting of the National Municipal League in Richmond, Virginia. He made his presentation late morning while the marriage was an evening ceremony with Franz Schneider Jr. (MIT class of 1909) as Best Man. How he managed this feat is not recorded. At the time Schneider was working as a Sanitarian for the Russell Sage Foundation.

Perhaps worthy of note is the fact that Clara featured in a long article in the New York Times, published in 1903, in which it was reported how she claimed to have been kidnapped (hypnotized by a woman and abducted) only to find herself, upon wakening, in Omaha, at which point she contacted the local police. The article cast some doubts on the whole episode especially when evidence was found that she had planned her escapade out West. Her supposed kidnapping featured on the front page of many newspapers across the country. Otherwise there is little to be found out about her.

Gunn left his post in New Jersey in July 1910 to return to Massachusetts. Earlier that year he had given a talk before the Biological Colloquium on Certain Sanitary Problems Dealt With by the Board of Health of a Small City. This was announced in the TECH of 11 January 1910. While he took up the new posts of Instructor at MIT in sanitary biology and Assistant at the Lawrence Sewage Experiment Station, it is not exactly clear how long he occupied these post as the New York Times, in an article entitled Europe’s Sanitation Best dated September 18, 1910, informed its readers that he had “resigned to devote the interim to traveling and studying conditions abroad.” His travels led him to report:

I don’t mean to disparage the great work that America is now doing… but merely to emphasize that in spite of the rapid strides that this country has made in recent years it still has far to go if it is to get up in the van of progress with the countries of the Old World. The popular appreciation of municipal sanitation in Germany and France is far ahead of this country.

Gunn’s professional life over the next 7 years was frenetic, possibly driven by the fact that MIT did not have the funds to pay its staff an adequate salary. Thus, while occupying a post at MIT at all times during these years, Gunn sought opportunities elsewhere, often following the advice of Sedgwick.

In 1911, the MIT course changed its name from Biology to Biology and Public Health as the public health aspects of the work of the department gained in importance.

At the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association in December 1911, held in Havana, it was decided to unite the offices of the Association with the editorship of the AJPH with the intent of expanding the membership of the Association by making the Journal more attractive and authoritative. Dr Livingston Farrand, Executive Secretary of the National Association for the Study and Prevention of Tuberculosis, accepted the post of Treasurer of the Association and that of responsible Editor for the Journal while Gunn, who in the meantime had succeeded Winslow as Assistant Professor of Public Health at MIT, accepted the position of Managing Editor of the Journal and secretary of the Association. Gunn took over from Farrand the job of Editor in 1914, a position he held until his departure for Paris in July 1917.

Gunn, in his capacity as Editor of the AJPH, used his skills to fill the journal with useful information drawn from American sources as well as from abroad. While he no doubt had the help of others the responsibility for the consistent manner in which specials sections were developed must rest on his shoulders. Each monthly issue of some 80 to 90 pages in length contained, in addition to a series of technical articles, an editorial page, health department reports and notes, and public health notes. In 1916 he helped create a Health Information Bureau which would answer questions from journal subscribers concerning almost any aspect of public health. Periodically the journal would include pages listing articles of interest from American and foreign journals. On occasion there was a biting cartoon and snappy bits of promotional text, as witness a column entitled “What is your Motto?” that listed:

Public health is purchasable. Within natural limitations a community can determine its own death-rate.

Sanitary instruction is even more important than sanitary legislation.

No sanitary improvement worth the name will be effective, whatever acts you pass or whatever powers you confer on public officers unless you create an intelligent interest in the public mind.

Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.

Public health is the foundation upon which rests the happiness of the people and welfare of the state.

Reform directed towards the advancement of public health must ever take precedence over all others.

Money spent for the public health is an investment, not an expenditure. It costs less to keep the people well than to get them well.

While Gunn was not personally responsible for any of these, his career demonstrates that he was fully in tune with each and every one of them.

Gunn used his editorials to promote various public health positions and did not hesitate to enter the political arena when the cause of public health was at stake. One such occasion was the enactment by the Republican dominated New York State Assembly of bills that interfered with the establishment of the State’s Sanitary Code and reduced the number of inspectors. The public raised sufficient protest to keep any of the damaging bills from ever being voted on, leading Gunn to conclude:

The lesson of all this is that Public Health is coming into its own; that it may and should be made a political issue in the good sense of the term; and that, if a health department in this present day achieves results and lets the people know about it, it need not fear the attacks of the politician.

In 1912 MIT’s department of biology, under Sedgwick, joined with the Harvard Medical School under Milton J Rosenau, who had been appointed the first full-time Professor of Preventive Medicine and Hygiene at Harvard Medical School two years earlier. Rosenau had been a member of the United States Public Health Services since 1890 and the director of the Hygienic Laboratory in Washington DC. He was a non-clinician, having established his reputation through research on yellow fever, malaria, vaccine virus, typhoid fever, and acute respiratory infections.

The Technology-Harvard School of Public Health, as it would soon be called, opened its doors to students in September 1913. At the completion of the prescribed course a Certificate in Public Health was awarded.

From 1912 to 1914 Gunn also served as Assistant Professor of biology at Simmons College. In 1914 he was promoted to Associate Professor at MIT by which time he had become Sedgwick’s principal aid on the public health side of the department. He participated in the examination of the School’s first candidate, Mark Frederick Boyd, who passed and would go on to become one of the leading malariologists of his generation.

Gunn helped develop a course for the joint school that dealt with the methods for cultural diagnosis of diphtheria and tuberculosis and use of the Widal test for typhoid. He also taught immunology and sanitary biometrics, as well as providing a once-a-week semester course covering the detrimental effects of factory life upon health, including occupational accidents and industrial poisoning.

A letter to the Tech editor speaks well of Gunn’s course. In response to an article in the Tech Survey to the effect that Winslow’s course given at Teacher’s College was unique in the US, a physician who was training himself for public health work and with particular interest in industrial hygiene, wrote:

I would like to correct this. I know of at least one other such course, for I am studying this subject at MIT, under Professor SM Gunn. The course here is a comprehensive, admirably presented series of lectures extending through one and one-half terms of the year, and covers both industrial diseases and industrial accidents. Lectures are given on the trade poisons, mining and railroad accidents, industrial insurance, occupational tuberculosis, ventilation of factories and machine guarding.

Gunn’s long chapter on Public Health prepared for the Civics Society of Chicago was certainly one of the most ambitious tasks that he undertook following his return to Massachusetts. It covered nearly every major aspect of public health providing a wealth of local statistics, e.g., deaths due to various diseases compiled from a Registration Area that comprised those states and cities in which the registration of deaths were fairly complete and which total a population of 839,284 in 1911: tuberculosis – (in all forms) 188, 497, pneumonia – 52,868, typhoid fever – 12,451, whooping cough – 6,682, and scarlet fever – 5,243. The number of deaths from all causes for children under 1 year of age was 149,322, a number that Gunn qualified as a “terrible showing” at the same time as noting that the death rate of infants under one year of age had “decreased nearly one-fifth (19%) in the group of registration states during the last eleven and a half years.”

Gunn devoted several pages to describing the public health administration in America. First there was the United States Public Health Service, which at the time was a bureau of the Treasury Department. With 2000 employees it was responsible for assuming responsibilities in connection with outbreaks of cholera, yellow fever, smallpox, plague and typhus fever. If asked it would step in and cooperate with the state and local authorities. Its Hygienic Laboratory disseminated information relating to public health by frequent bulletins and reports.

Practically all of the states had a State Board of Health, whose prime function was to look after the public health problems of general state interest, to assist the local health authorities, and to attend to many things which the local health departments were unable to do. There were all kinds of Departments: some efficient, effective, and properly financed; others extremely ineffective, inefficient, and receiving little funds for the conduct of their work.

Public health services in municipalities were being developed in some of the more progressive cities, and in light of more scientific knowledge of the modes of disease transmission there was a shifting of emphasis from filth to factors of more immediate importance. Politics were being eliminated. In an almost ecstatic mode Gunn optimistically reported that “sanitarians and others interested in the preservation of health are beginning to see the dawn of the day when local politics shall no longer play and important part in the health administration of the city.”

Gunn estimated that preventive health work in large cities would cost around $1.00 per capita. While a few cities spent more, the average was 38.4 cents while “quite a few cities” were spending from 2 to 10 cents per capita.

Perhaps of greater interest are the more politically sensitive issues that he did not address: child labor, eugenics, and venereal diseases.

Gunn’s numerous lectures allowed him to meet every important American figure in public health at the time. In October 1912, for example, when he presented a paper on the importance of close cooperation between public health and police authorities, he met Wickliffe Rose (1862-1931), secretary of the Rockefeller Sanitation Commission, who described rural sanitary surveys in the South.

Gunn managed to find the time to take on various assignments that took him away from MIT, for example he carried out an investigation of housing conditions in Salem, Massachusetts; this was followed by a series of studies for the Milwaukee Bureau of Economy and Efficiency on the needs of the health department in the areas of milk supply, education and publications, and communicable diseases. During the same period Gunn prepared a nearly 100 page chapter on Public Health that appeared in a book on Women and the Larger Citizenship.

Gunn’s study of housing conditions in Salem was in keeping with the then current belief that “every effort to abolish crowding and unsanitary conditions” must be made to “save people from premature death and suffering”. Furthermore, it was the duty “of every individual to contribute his share towards obtaining the best sanitary conditions possible.” Gunn added a third rationale for action, when he went on to say “we are beginning to realize that even the poor are entitled to some of the comforts of life; and although modern sanitary science tells us that a little sewer gas is not dangerous to health and that back yards filled with old tin cans and other rubbish are not apt to spread disease, yet standards of modern civilization demand decency, and decency is not at all compatible with dirt and filth of any nature whether productive of disease or not.” Later in his paper he qualified the provision of suitable dwellings in terms of the requirements of Sanitary Science, Public Health and Decency, all in capital letters.

Although Salem had three neighborhoods occupied by distinctive groupings of newly arrived immigrants: French, Polish-Jewish and Greek-Italian, he made no observations that would indicate that any of these groups differed in their ability to live decently under such poor conditions. Thus he did not distinguish crowding from density. His statistical tables were on room crowding; cubic air-space per occupant; window space; location of water-closets and number of families using the same; conditions of tenements, water-closets, cellars and yards; height of ceilings in tenements; and number of rooms in tenements.

Lacking any health statistics from Salem itself, he showed the impact of overcrowding and back-to-back housing from surveys undertaken in London and Manchester. Despite such tabulations, he lacked the methodological tools to uncover any deeper correlations.

As he put it:

Poverty is intimately associated with bad habits, with dirt, waste, idleness and vice. All these factors, economic and others, operate both as cause and effect. They cannot be separated in real life and are continually reacting upon each other in such a manner that it is impossible to arrive at their respective shares in producing existing evils.

Milk supply, the subject which Gunn took on in Milwaukee, was another subject high on the list of priorities of public health workers at that time. Dirty and contaminated milk, wrote Gunn, is one of “the serious menaces to the public health. It is particularly dangerous to bottle-fed infants, and besides can act as a carrier of the organisms of scarlet fever, typhoid fever, diphtheria and tuberculosis.” In his analysis Gunn makes it clear that milk producers and distributors will resort to “predictions of milk famines and great increase in the price of milk” to thwart any efforts to clean up their business, a fear that he dismissed as groundless.

Gunn recommended an overhaul of the health department, one that brought together meat, food, and milk inspection into one Division of Food Inspection. Additional inspectors were needed as well a chemist and bacteriologist to perform needed tests. A careful study of the process of milk production, transportation and distribution was called for to see if the cost of milk could be lowered. New milk ordinances were needed to strengthen regulations concerning the sanitary conditions under which milk and cream were produced, transported, handled and distributed (including the methods of pasteurization.

Later in 1914 Gunn was released from part of his duties at MIT to help organize the new Division of Hygiene which had been created in 1914 as part of Massachusetts reform of the State Department of Health. He assumed title of Director of the Division for the period 1915-1916.

Gunn’s ability to write intelligently and quickly and to be able to make sense out of diverse and sometimes copious bits of information, skills that he harbored until he died, suited his next assignment admirably, namely that of compiling a report on a voluntary survey of organizations interested in public health. The report, which was issued in 1915, was guided by a committee that consisted of some of America’s leading social and public health figures at the time. In addition to Farrand there was Surgeon-General Rupert Blue, Chapin, Wickliffe Rose, John M. Glenn and Prof. Henry R. Seager. Glenn was General Director of the Russell Sage Foundation and Seager represented the American Association for Labor Legislation. Given its importance we will return to this stage of Gunn’s career in a later chapter.

In February 1916 Gunn’s application was accepted by the newly established Harvard/MIT School of Public Health to be a member and a candidate for the Certificate in Public Health. Unlike other candidates who were obliged to take numerous courses to fulfill the school’s requirements, Gunn took only two – that of Vital Statistics, which he took at MIT, and Preventive Medicine and Hygiene, which was offered by Harvard. He received passing grades; his 99% grade for the latter course being the highest grade noted for that year. Gunn passed his oral exam on June 9, 1917, several weeks before his departure for France.

Gunn’s writings during this period were totally consistent with Chapin’s and Hill’s New Public Health. Gunn was in full agreement with a position that Chapin had been advocating for several decades, namely that public health practice must rest on solidly established facts and not on opinions of individuals no matter what their expertise might be. Gunn put it most succinctly: “the duty of science is twofold, first to seek the truth; second, having obtained truth to apply it towards the welfare of humanity.” Evidence-based thinking, much in vogue today, was at the center of the epidemiological approach to public health advocated by Gunn and his colleagues.

Gunn followed Biggs, in arguing that “public health is purchasable.” But to get the benefits of science, health departments must rest outside the influence of politics, a condition that sadly was rarely to be found in most American cities and states at the time. Talking to a meeting of mayors under the heading “A Model Health Department,” Gunn argued that the head of health departments “shall not be removed unless for a failure to discharge his duties.” Such an individual should be trained in the sanitary arts and should not be “tied down and fettered with interferences in the execution of his duty,” as often was the case when the health officer was forced to deal with committees and boards “composed of persons who oftentimes have little or no qualifications for such a position.” Gunn used this occasion to suggest that every health officer “should belong to the American Public Health Association.” Every city should pay for its health officers to attend the annual meeting of the APHA. Police and Fire departments sent their representatives to their meetings; why not the health department, for in the final analysis “is there any city official more important than the health officer?”

Gunn believed that the most important work of a health department “is the control and prevention of communicable diseases.” The measures needed for this to be accomplished were fourfold: quarantine, education of the public and attaining their cooperation, collection and recording of suitable histories of all cases of communicable disease, and the scientific study and interpretation of these records by a competent epidemiologist.

The importance of quarantine was still undergoing considerable change in the face of the growing evidence of the presence of so-called health carriers, i.e. individuals carrying the infection and still capable of spreading it to others but suffering no or hardly any sickness. The importance of public education was partly driven by the need for people to recognize “that violation of quarantine is among the most serious offense against society.”

Gunn, in his study of communicable diseases in Milwaukee, delved deeply into the problem of how to improve the methods used for keeping records of quarantinable disease. He was particularly concerned with the reporting of scarlet fever and diphtheria, the two leading causes of death due to communicable disease following tuberculosis. At issue was the gathering and study of information from all cases, recognizing that “unless each history is subjected to careful, scientific and analytic study by some competent person, it would be a waste of time to find out all the particulars of a case.”

When Farrand agreed to lead the Anti-Tuberculosis program in France, he asked Gunn to join him as Associate Director. Gunn’s departure for France was announced in the AJPH in an editorial written by the APHA President, W.A. Evans, who noted that the APHA had been called upon “to make a sacrifice in behalf of the sufferers in France.” “Professor Gunn’s brothers have been at the front since the war began, and he has felt all along that the time would come, when he must do his bit. When he asked for a leave of absence we felt that however much his going might cripple us, if he felt it to be his duty to go, it was our duty to agree to his going.” Later in the year, the General Assembly of the APHA resolved:

That the cordial and hearty thanks of the American Public Health Association are tendered to Prof. Selskar Gunn, on account of his faithful and efficient services as Secretary of this Association, and as Editor of the Journal, and it is the wish and hope of the Association that Professor Gunn will be successful in the work he is now doing for his country and human liberty, and that he will finally return safely in health, to again serve in the public health cause. (p1049)