A nationally recognized authority on occupational health, James Hervi Sterner, M.D. was for much of his career director of the Medical Department at the Eastman Kodak Company in Rochester, New York. The Sterner collection came to the Miner Library in two parts. In March 1993, Patricia Sterner, Dr. Sterner’s widow, presented to the Miner Library memorabilia consisting of her husband's awards, certificates, and diplomas. In May 2008, Mrs. Sterner donated additional material from her husband’s files that included correspondence, reports, reprints, photographs and related documents. The combined donations were reorganized and processed in October 2010. The papers of James Hervi Sterner presently comprise eight boxes and occupy eight linear feet.
James Hervi Sterner was born in Bloomsburg, Columbia County, Pennsylvania, on November 14, 1904 to Lloyd Parvin Sterner, a teacher and later superintendent of schools, and Nora Finney Sterner. He received his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Pennsylvania State College in 1928, and his medical degree from Harvard in 1932. In 1931-32, Sterner was a house officer at the New England Deaconess Hospital in Boston. He interned at the Lankenau Hospital in Philadelphia from 1932 to 1934, where he was made chief resident in 1934. In 1936, Sterner was appointed director of the Laboratory of Industrial Medicine at the Eastman Kodak Company in Rochester. He was made associate medical director in 1944, and medical director in 1951. Sterner retained this position until retiring from Kodak in 1968.
New England Deaconess Hospital in 1931
In 1940, Sterner was appointed instructor in medicine (industrial medicine & toxicology) at the University of Rochester School of Medicine & Dentistry. He was promoted to associate professor of medicine in 1951, and clinical associate professor in preventive medicine & community health in 1959.
From 1943 to 1945, Sterner served as medical director of the Clinton Engineer Works at the Tennessee Eastman Corporation, the largest of the Manhattan Project plants at Oak Ridge. He was simultaneously chief consultant in occupational health for the entire Manhattan Project. In 1946 Sterner was appointed to the medico-legal board of Operation Crossroads, and was present during testing on the Bikini atoll. During the transition from the Manhattan Project to the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), Sterner served as a member of the Interim Medical Advisory Board, and continued as a consultant to both the AEC and the Energy Research & Development Administration.
Following his retirement from Kodak, Sterner accepted an appointment as professor of environmental health at the University of Texas School of Public Health (1968), where he was also acting dean. In 1969-70, he served as acting city health director for the city of Houston. In 1976 Sterner joined the faculty of the Dept. of Community & Environmental Medicine at the University of California, Irvine, College of Medicine.
Sterner served as a consultant and member of the advisory boards of numerous federal, state and local agencies. His national appointments include the General Advisory Committee of the Atomic Energy Commission, the National Advisory Environmental Health Council of the U.S. Public Health Service, the Cancer Control Committee of the National Cancer Institute, the Environmental Health Advisory Committee to the U.S. Congress, and the Committee on Toxicology of the National Academy of Sciences-National Research Council. Sterner was the author of more than fifty articles and book chapters, and the recipient of numerous awards and citations.
James Hervi Sterner at the Jersey Shore in 1931
James Hervi Sterner died in Laguna Hills, Ca. on August 29, 1992. He had two sons (James & John) and a daughter (Susan) with his first wife. In 1971, Sterner married Patricia Lewis Hudson, who presented her late husband's papers to the Miner Library.
Appointment by Richard Nixon to the General Advisory Committee of the Atomic Energy Commission (Aug 1, 1974)