Alice Hamilton Essay - Critical Essays

Analysis

In her opening remarks, Grant states that she has written this biography as an attempt to make more personal the story of the remarkable Hamilton than the subject did in her own autobiography, Exploring the Dangerous Trades: The Autobiography of Alice Hamilton, M.D. (1943). Hamilton was cooperative and supportive of the author in her work.

As a result of their close relationship, Grant’s portrayal of Hamilton’s life and work is consistently flattering and subjective. In only a few instances does Hamilton show her temper, such as a case of righteous indignation at the outcome of the Sacco-Vanzetti trial. She is continually described as dedicated, stoic, and completely sympathetic to the underprivileged. The book contains many anecdotes detailing Hamilton’s initial reactions to and subsequent aid for a variety of factory and mine workers who were subjected to unhealthy, stressful, and inhumane treatment. In 1911, she investigated factories using lead in enameling bathtubs and other fixtures and found that more than one-third of the workers were exposed to dangerous lead levels from breathing the lead-filled dust in the enameling rooms. Her reports resulted in stricter controls and greater health measures in this industry. Her consistently calm determination is admirable but often can be interpreted as emotionless. More cynical young adult readers might find this continually positive portrayal somewhat unrealistic.

The biographical...

(The entire section is 535 words.)