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Triumph and Tragedy: Pittsburgh's History of Innovation in Science

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Civics +5 Age Levels Middle School (13 to 15 years old), High School (16 to 18 years old)

This collection connects the 2019 National History Day theme of "Triumph and Tragedy in History" to a selection of topics related to Western Pennsylvania, science, and innovation. This region’s history features many stories of triumph over tragedy, including two key events: the creation of the polio vaccine at the University of Pittsburgh, and Rachel Carson’s fight against the detrimental effects of pesticides on the environment.

The first half of the collection focuses on the story of the polio vaccine, including context on the polio virus, movements to raise money for a cure, and Salk's work in Pittsburgh. It also mentions Henrietta Lacks, whose cells were used without permission for a range of medical advancements, including the polio vaccine.

The second half of the collection highlights Rachel Carson, her talent for writing and interest in animals as a child, how she came to be interested in the effects of DDT, and her legacy as an environmentalist. 

These objects, images, and sources can be used to help form an idea for a project, provide a new angle on an existing project idea, or lead to new ways of including primary sources into NHD projects. They are drawn from a range of primary source repositories, which can be helpful sources of information for students working on these topics. 

#NHD2019 #NHD 

Jonas Salk

National Portrait Gallery

Fight Infantile Paralysis

National Museum of American History

Emerson Iron Lung

National Museum of American History

Pump for the Iron Lung Invented by C. E. H. Armbruster

National Museum of American History

3c Polio single

National Postal Museum

March of Dimes Crutch Lapel Pin

National Museum of American History

Jonas Salk's Syringe

National Museum of American History

Poliomyelitis Vaccine from Field Trials

National Museum of American History

Henrietta Lacks (HeLa): The Mother of Modern Medicine

National Museum of African American History and Culture

Mother's March on Polio Collection Envelope

National Museum of American History

Got Polio?

National Museum of American History

Rachel Carson as a child

Rachel Carson Collection, College Archives, Chatham College

Rachel Carson short story

Beinecke Library

Rachel Louise Carson

National Portrait Gallery

Silent Spring, Rachel Carson, 1962

National Museum of American History

Rachel Carson at Hawk Mountain

Rachel Carson Collection, College Archives, Chatham College

Distinguished Science Awards Made to Chatham Alumnae, Chatham Alumnae Recorder

Rachel Carson Collection, College Archives, Chatham College

Page 2 of previous item

Beinecke Library

Remembering Rachel Carson on Earth Day

National Portrait Gallery