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James Hervi Sterner, M.D.


A nationally recognized authority on occupational health, James Hervi Sterner, M.D. was for much of his career director of the Medical DepJames Hervi Sterner, M.D.artment 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

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 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.

Container List

Box One

  • Folder 1: Curriculum vitae
  • Folder 2: Reprints, 1936-1949
  • Folder 3: Reprints, 1950-1959
  • Folder 4: Reprints, 1960-1969
  • Folder 5: Passports
  • Folder 6: Professional & biography directory entries
  • Folder 7: Newspaper & magazine clippings
  • Folder 8: Family birth certificates
  • Folder 9: L.P. Sterner
  • Folder 10: Boyhood letter
  • Folder 11: Pennsylvania State College: 1927 announcement of the Institute of Chemistry
  • Folder 12: Harvard Medical School (1929-31)
  • Folder 13: Medical Licenses (New York, Texas, California)
  • Folder 14: Pulmonary fibrosis (tungsten) – occupational surveys (1942, 1952)
  • Folder 15: Tennessee Eastman Corp.: Medical survey of Division Y and the Radiation Lab (Mar-Jun 1943)
  • Folder 16: Carbontetrachloride studies (1943-49)
  • Folder 17: History of the Medical Division (1946)
  • Folder 18: Heart study of the hourly group in the EK roll coating department (Nov 1951)
  • Folder 19: AEC fellowship program in occupational medicine (1951-69)

Box Two

  • Folder 1: Eastman Kodak Medical Dept. personnel (1952-57)
  • Folder 2: Eastman Kodak Medical Dept. organizational charts (1953-60)
  • Folder 3: “How your Medical Department serves you,” talk: Eastman Kodak Co. (Oct 1955)
  • Folder 4: Harvard Medical School: Class of 1932 reunions (1957, 1972)
  • Folder 5: “Radiation exposure and compensation,” talk: American Industrial Hygiene Association, Dearborn, Mich. (May 1959)
  • Folder 6: “The evolution of occupational health,” talk (196?)
  • Folder 7: “The rehabilitation of injured employees,” talk: Chicago (Aug 1963)
  • Folder 8: History of the Eastman Kodak Medical Dept. (1963)
  • Folder 9: “Atomic energy for society and the balance between hazard and gain,” typescript (ca. 1964-65)
  • Folder 10: Exposure issues: patient Kuhne (1966)
  • Folder 11: “The economics of industrial health – the large plant,” talk (ca. 1966-67)
  • Folder 12: Miscellaneous correspondence (1968-74)
  • Folder 13: National conference on hazardous physical and chemical agents (1969)
  • Folder 14: Marriage certificate (1971)
  • Folder 15: Atomic Energy Commission: General advisory committee (1971-74)
  • Folder 16: University of Texas. School of Public Health (1972-73)
  • Folder 17: Ramazzini Society (1973-90)
  • Folder 18: Van Laningham case file (1974)
  • Folder 19: Robert F. Sterner (brother of JHS)

Box Three

  • Folder 1: Miscellaneous correspondence (1975)
  • Folder 2: Miscellaneous correspondence (1976-79)
  • Folder 3: Handwritten notes on the history of industrial health (1978?)
  • Folder 4: Wills, power of attorney, etc. (1978-87)
  • Folder 5: Notes on industrial health (ca. 1975-76)
  • Folder 6: Sterner Professor of Dermatology, University of Rochester School of Medicine & Dentistry (1979)
  • Folder 7: Miscellaneous correspondence (1980-89)
  • Folder 8: Orange County (Ca.): Conflict of interest statement (1983)
  • Folder 9: Cosmos Club (1985-86)
  • Folder 10: Medical records (1989-92)
  • Folder 11: Miscellaneous correspondence (1992)
  • Folder 12: Death, funeral, etc. (1992)

Box Four

  • Folder 1: Early family photographs
  • Folder 2: JHS boyhood photographs
  • Folder 3: JHS formal photographic portraits
  • Folder 4: JHS informal photographs
  • Folder 5: Photographs of 75th birthday celebration at Eastman Kodak
  • Folder 6: Family photographs (1970s-80s)
  • Folder 7: Photographs of JHS receiving awards
  • Folder 8: Kodak medical labs
  • Folder 9: Atomic Energy Commission group photographs
  • Folder 10: Harvard Class of 1932 reunion photographs
  • Folder 11: Meeting, conference group photographs
  • Folder 12: Meeting, conference group photographs
  • Folder 13: Meeting, conference group photographs
  • Folder 14: Photographic portraits of colleagues

Box Five

  • Diplomas
  • Awards and citations (certificates)
  • Licenses
  • Board certifications
  • Oversize photographs

Box Six

  • Miner’s cap worn by JHS 1920-25
  • Appointment calendars
  • Photoalbum of family, boyhood, college years, medical school, Medical Field Service school, internships in Boston and Philadelphia
  • La Vie: the annual publication of the junior class of the Pennsylvania State College (Vol. XXXIX, 1927)

Box Seven

  • Silver tray
  • Plaques

Box Eight

  • Ceramic bowl
  • Plaques

Unboxed plaques

Framed certificate

  • Appointment by Richard Nixon to the General Advisory Committee of the Atomic Energy Commission (Aug 1, 1974)