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PROF. HARVEY SUTTON, SCHOOL of PUBLIC HEALTH & TROPICAL MEDICINE

This cover was sent from the Australian National Research Council to Dr. Harvey Sutton, The Director, School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, The University, Sydney. The red 1½d KGV head stamp with the ‘TWO / PENCE’ overprint is canceled with an illegible roller postmark was issued on 1 August 1930 and Dr. Harvey was appointed to the first Director of the School the same year, so this narrows the date to 1930. The reverse was not seen (Figure 1).

 

The Australian National Research Council was formed in 1919 with the object of representing Australia on the International Research Council and generally promoting in Australia the cause of scientific research. The Council established fellowships, prepared material on aspects of Australian scientific development and published several journals. In 1954 the Council went out of existence in favour of the Australian Academy of Science.

Harvey Sutton, professor of medicine, was born on 18 February 1882 at Jail Hill, Castlemaine, Victoria, eighth child of William Sutton, head warder, and his wife Hannah, both had migrated from Ireland in the 1850s. Harvey attended school at Castlemaine, and St Andrew's College, Bendigo. He was resident in Trinity College from 1898, and studied medicine at the University of Melbourne (M.B., 1902; Ch.B., 1903; M.D., 1905), receiving his clinical training at Melbourne Hospital. He gained a string of honours, including the Beaney scholarship in pathology. He represented the university in lacrosse, athletics and cricket, and his college in rowing and football. At various times he held the Victorian and Australasian half-mile records and the Victorian record for the mile.

While resident and senior resident medical officer at the Children's Hospital, Sutton was awarded the Rhodes scholarship for Victoria. In 1905 he entered New College, Oxford working for two years under J. S. Haldane, and he completed a research degree on the effects of increasing body temperature on the metabolic rate. He represented Oxford against Cambridge in athletics and lacrosse, and in 1908 competed for Australia in the 800 metres at the Olympic Games in London. Sutton served as resident medical officer at Charing Cross Hospital and the Lister Institute of Preventive Medicine before returning to Melbourne where he was medical officer with the Victorian Department of Public Instruction from September 1909 until World War I..

As a captain in the Australian Army Medical Corps, from March 1916 Sutton served with the Australian Imperial Force in Egypt, Sinai, Palestine and Syria. On leave in London, Sutton married Frances Beatrice Davis on 23 October 1917. Returning to Egypt in January 1918, he survived the sinking of the hospital ship, Aragon. He worked in several hospitals and, as a temporary major from February 1918, became deputy assistant director of medical services at Headquarters. He was twice mentioned in dispatches and appointed O.B.E. in 1919.

Returning to Melbourne in 1919, Sutton completed a diploma in public health. Next year he joined the New South Wales Department of Public Instruction as principal medical officer. For much of the 1920s he also lectured part time in public health and preventive medicine at the University of Sydney. In 1930, Sutton was appointed to the chair of preventive medicine and became the School of Public Health’s first director. During World War II his school was involved in advising and training the armed services on all aspects of tropical health. Sutton also became inspector of army camps in New South Wales with the rank of lieutenant-colonel. He retired from the University of Sydney in 1947.

In many papers Sutton examined some of his central concerns: the prophylactic and diagnostic aspects of malaria, delinquency, feeble-mindedness, sanitation and the health needs of school children. A regular contributor to the Medical Journal of Australia and the Sydney University Medical Journal, he published his 1941 Livingstone lectures as Mental Health in Peace and War (1942) and a textbook, Lectures on Preventive Medicine, in 1944. He prepared an extensive curriculum for the teaching of Public Health and Preventive Medicine at the University of Sydney (Figure 2).

For the tropical medicine school, he designed a sunken garden where he sometimes took classes, or encouraged performances of Greek and Elizabethan drama. Survived by his wife, three sons and four daughters, Harvey Sutton died at his Rose Bay home on 21 June 1963 and was buried in Waverley cemetery. Dr. Sutton seated at the extreme left - with the Professor of Surgery, Harold Dew, immediately on his right, and other members of the Advisory Council of the School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine - is seen in Figure 3.

I acknowledge that I used the Australian Dictionary of Biology extensively for this paper.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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