Secretary Hobby: Department of Health, Education, and Welfare

Jessica Weng

Fall 2018
Medical Humanities
Best Essay Competition Second Place (tied) in the 2018 calendar year

This online exhibit was created as the final project explores the impact of Oveta Culp Hobby during her time as the first Secretary of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare from 1953 to 1955. Oveta Culp Hobby had many roles as a public figure in the city of Houston and in the U.S. From 1953-1955, Oveta served under the Eisenhower administration as the first secretary of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare and the second woman to hold such a high office in the presidential administration. As the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare, Oveta Culp Hobby was a diligent and effective administrator, leaving a legacy of running a successful bureaucratic administration through thorough research, pushing for public health, compromise on education building, and expansion of social security. The exhibit will examine the motivations and implementations of the legislations and programs Oveta Culp Hobby supported or proposed. The exhibit was created as part of the HURC 430 Health Humanities Practicum class in Fall 2018 at Rice University.

The research strategy to this project primarily used primary resources located in the Woodrow Wilson Research Center in Fondren Library, Rice University. Secondary resources were also used to supplement and provide background information to the primary documents. After reading through all the primary documents relating to Oveta Culp Hobby’s tenure as the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare, key documents were scanned using the document scanner in the Woodrow Wilson Research Center and uploaded to Google Drive for closer reading. From these readings and with the guidance of Dr. Mulligan, a story and framework of Oveta Culp Hobby and her works were put together during the first half of the semester. Through the Health Humanities Practicum, I also worked with Ms. Focke and Ms. Russell at Woodrow Wilson Research Center as they trained me in handling the primary documents, familiarizing myself with Omeka, and scanning the documents for upload. Through continual editing, sections on an introduction, motivations, and implementations of health, education, and welfare realms were written to describe Oveta’s legislations and programs. A few key documents for display in the Omeka exhibit were chosen and rescanned for higher quality. After requesting an Omeka space from Fondren Library, all materials were uploaded and edited to fit the exhibit space. Thus, this final project in the form of an online exhibit through Omeka could be created.

Link to Exhibit: