Home News New Gifts: Health and Lyme Disease Activism

New Gifts: Health and Lyme Disease Activism

July 19, 2022 - 11:07am by Melissa Grafe

Two booklets, one title Yale Medical Center Newsletter - 1969 and the other The Organizer's Manualblack and white cover with two hands and the words catalyst, nov. 68, vol 2, no. 1, magazine of boston sho and mchrtwo ID badges with the name polly murray - lyme ct, and two pins that say 'I'm not crazy I just have Lyme' and 'It's time we got tick'd-off'a picture of polly murray placed on top of a journal article about Lyme disease

The Medical Historical Library is delighted to announce two new gifts detailing student and patient health care activism starting in the 1960s.

Dr. Michael Charney, YSM class of 1972, donated his papers related to student activism in his Yale career. Charney was an editor of the Yale Medical Center Newsletter, a student activism newsletter for Yale School of Medicine produced in the late 60s and early 70s.  Charney also donated materials related to his activism for Ralph Nader and the health rights of workers in New Haven and other places; The Organizer’s Manual, which he was involved in producing as part of a multi-university student strike; and publications from other groups, including the Black Panthers and The Medical Committee for Human Rights. The Charney papers provide insight into healthcare activism at Yale and in other parts of the country, highlighting links between the various student, political, and community activist groups.

The Medical Historical Library also received the papers of Lyme disease activist Polly Murray, as a gift from her family. Murray lived in Lyme, CT., and alerted the CT State Department of Health and Yale – particularly doctors Allen Steere and Stephen Malawista—to the outbreak of symptoms that included herself, her family, and other members of the Lyme community. Steere and Malawista investigated beginning in 1975, and by 1977 Lyme arthritis (now Lyme disease) was first identified as a new infection spread by ticks bites.  Murray was a layperson integral to the early investigation, and published an account of her experiences with Lyme disease in her book The Widening Circle: A Lyme Disease Pioneer Tells Her Story (1996). Her papers include correspondence with Malawista and others; the original handwritten list of people in town/symptoms that she showed to Steere in 1975; scrapbooks containing Lyme disease publications including newspaper articles; and other material. This gift complements the Stephen Malawista papers already held in the Medical Historical Library collection.

Both gifts are currently unprocessed, so please contact the Medical Historical Library at historical.library@yale.edu for access and further information. Initial records for the Michael L. Charney papers and Polly Luckett Murray papers are in the library catalog and Archives at Yale.