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Part two of interview conducted with Dr. James Allen Whitaker (b. 12/5/1905) as part of the Nash County Oral Histories Project. Whitaker speaks about his stepfather, a doctor, taking a job in Zebulon, NC; describes the difference in going to school there compared to Nash County. He details how he wound up in Rocky Mount later in life, working as a Health Officer for the county. He talks about his time at an early version of UNC’s School of Public Health before taking a job in Mount Airy, NC. With a desire to be closer to the farmland he inherited from his father, Whitaker then took a job in Rocky Mount; mentions Nash County was one of the first counties in NC to establish a Health Department, and speaks of the high quality of the heath care system there at the time. He lists the major health concerns in the area when he arrived, and discusses the difficulty of treatment prior to the availability of penicillin. He talks about inspections done at dairies and mentions several families with whom he regularly associated. Ten years later, he went to New York City; choosing a residency at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center over a scholarships in public health from Harvard and Johns Hopkins. While there, he says he treated Madame Chiang Kai-Shek, Eleanor Roosevelt, Katherine Cornell, Chinese diplomats, and the heads of several large corporations. Whitaker returned to Rocky Mount; became the first urological surgeon in the area. He reflects on the lack of sanitation in the early 1900s, relating the issue to the spread of hookworm in area children, and speaking of the treatment given. He describes how the widespread illness helped the public better understand the importance of public health and developing better sanitation habits. He speaks about treating tuberculosis; mentions NC being the first state in the U.S. to get rid of cows with the illness, and talks about substantial blowback from the public when trying to enforce sanitation laws. He credits organizations and companies such as the Rockefeller Foundation, Colgate, and Kiwanis for funding projects to provide better public health.





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