Jeffrey Jentzen, MD, PhD to Speak about Death

Jeff JentzenThe New York Academy of Medicine’s Section on the History of Medicine and Public Health is pleased to announce the next talk in its 2010-2011 public lecture series.

The John K. Lattimer Lecture
Jeffrey Jentzen, MD, PhD, University of Michigan
“Death Investigation in America”
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
6:00 PM, with a public reception starting at 5:30 PM

The New York Academy of Medicine
1216 Fifth Avenue at 103rd Street, New York

A death occurs at home, in a hospital, on a street: why? As Jeffrey Jentzen reveals, we often never know. Why is the American system of death investigation so inconsistent and inadequate? What can the events of the assassination of President Kennedy, the killing of Bobby Kennedy, and Chappaquiddick reveal about the state of death investigation?

If communities in early America had a coroner at all, he was politically appointed and poorly trained. As medicine became more sophisticated and the medical profession more confident, physicians struggled to establish a professionalized, physician-led system of death investigation. The conflict between them and the coroners, as well as
politicians and law enforcement agencies, led to the patchwork of local laws and practices that persists to this day.

Jeffrey Jentzen will draw on his work in archives, interviews, and his own career as a medical examiner to look at the ways in which a long-standing professional and political rivalry controls public medical knowledge and public health.

Jeffrey Jentzen is Professor and Director of Autopsy and Forensic Services in the Department of Pathology at the University of Michigan. In addition to his training as a pathologist and his work as a medical examiner, he also received a PhD in the History of Science from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. He is the author of Death Investigation in America: Coroners, Medical Examiners, and the Pursuit of Medical Certainty (2009).

Copies of Dr. Jentzen’s book  Death Investigation in America will be for sale at the lecture, and the author will be available to sign them.

Save the Dates:

Thursday, February 10, 2011
“Global Health and the Politics of Cooptation”
Anne-Emanuelle Birn, ScD, University of Toronto

Thursday, March 17, 2011
The Friends of the Rare Book Room Lecture: “Vivisection in William Harvey’s Century”
Domenico Bertoloni Meli, PhD, Indiana University – Bloomington

Thursday, April 14, 2011
The Iago Galdston Lecture: “Dangerous Pregnancies:  German Measles (Rubella), Mothers, and Disabilities in Modern America”
Leslie J. Reagan, PhD, University of Illinois

Monday, May 9, 2011
On the History of Hospital Architecture in New York City
William J. Higgins, Higgins Quasebarth & Partners, LLC

For full descriptions, or to register to attend these talks, visit:

For more information about the Historical Collections at the New York Academy of Medicine, please visit our website,

For more information about the public lectures series sponsored by Section on the History of Medicine and Public Health, please call Arlene Shaner in the Rare Book Room at 212-822-7313 or send email to history[AT]nyam[DOT]org.

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