The Florida Public Health Oral History Project

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Post written by Jane Duncan

Today, more than ever, public health officials contribute to the health and wellness of our communities through disease prevention programs, education, clean water initiatives, disaster relief, laboratory research, and more. It is important to document the knowledge of prominent experts so that we can continue to learn from them for years to come. That’s what makes projects like USF’s Florida Public Health Oral History Project so vital. As we contend with the spread of this global pandemic, we invite you to learn more about the vital field of public health.

USF Digital Collections, “USF medical team attending to a patient” (U10-00203)

The Florida Public Health Oral History Project contains sixty-three interviews. Interviewees range from Florida public health administrators, physicians, and nurses to laboratory managers and epidemiologists. The interviews were conducted at Florida Department of Health units in Tallahassee, Jacksonville, and West Palm Beach from 1997-2002. Each interview covers the subject’s initial interest in the field, education, the chronology of positions they have held, the highlights and challenges in their career, and their views on public health.

The interviews in the Florida Public Health Oral History Project were conducted by Dr. E. Charlton Prather, an expert in public health for 35 years. Dr. Prather is a gifted microbiologist in the field and laboratory and has researched the transmission of enteric pathogens, polio, shigellosis, streptococcus aureus, tuberculosis, and St. Louis encephalitis. His leadership as a Florida State Epidemiologist, President of the National Organization of State Epidemiologists, and Florida Secretary of Health has served as an example for all practitioners in the discipline. Dr. Prather retired in 1987 and continues to contribute to Florida Public Health as an advisor and mentor.  He has received multiple accolades, the City of Tallahassee named him Volunteer of the Year in 1993 and 1997, in 2009, the Florida Medical Association awarded him with the Certificate of Merit, and in 2018 he was the recipient of the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award. The Florida Department of Health building in Jacksonville is named for him.

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USF Digital Collections, “An Emergency in front of the Gulf Service Station” (R05-z-00007025)
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