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Fri, 10.19.1923

Beatrix A. Hamburg, Psychiatrist born

Beatrix A. Hamburg

*Beatrix A. Hamburg was born on this date in 1923.  She was a Black Psychiatrist and advocate for children.

Beatrix Ann McCleary was born to Minor McCleary and Beatrix Ann Downs in Jacksonville, Florida. Her father was a surgeon who died when she was young. They moved to Long Island in New York shortly after his death to be with her maternal grandparents. There, she was raised by her widowed mother and her grandparents. Her mother was a school teacher and a social worker. McCleary's grandfather was a Methodist minister, and her grandmother was a homemaker. Her upbringing heavily emphasized the importance of education. She was the first African American to attend Vassar College.

1948 she was also the first black woman to attend Yale Medical School. She was originally going to pediatric medicine but found herself interested in psychiatry. Hamburg held professorships at Stanford, Harvard, Mt. Sinai, and Weill Cornell Medical College. Hamburg was married to David A. Hamburg, an academic physician who researched mental health, and the two collaborated on many projects during their careers.  Hamburg had an extensive career in medical psychiatry. She focused most of her work on the stages of adolescence and the struggles that adolescents must overcome. Hamburg also advocated for peer counseling for teens in the 1960s and 1970s.

She believed that adolescents benefit more from advising one another rather than from an authority figure. They would tutor each other on many issues, such as academics, social issues, mental health, and volunteer opportunities. She was on the President's Commission on Mental Health under President Jimmy Carter. Dr. Hamburg was a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Royal Society of Medicine and a member of the Institute of Medicine.

She has participated in many studies sponsored by the Institute of Medicine, the National Research Council, and other organizations. Hamburg was a former President of the William T. Grant Foundation, which supports research on developing children, adolescents, and youth. She also researched the effects of stress and related coping mechanisms with her husband. The studied stress factors included physical anxiety, depression, poverty, and war.

In 2004, they co-authored "Learning to Live Together: Preventing Hatred and Violence in Child and Adolescent Development." This book focuses on teaching children how to cope with and overcome hatred healthily. She researched how stress factors like diabetes and teen pregnancy could affect childhood development and how this affects them as adults. Hamburg and her husband received the 2007 Rhoda and Bernard Sarnat International Award in Mental Health from the Institute of Medicine for their long careers in medicine and public service.

She was a National Academy of Medicine member and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She received a Foremother Award for her lifetime accomplishments from the National Research Center for Women & Families in 2012. In October 2015, Hamburg and her husband received the Pardes Humanitarian Prize in Mental Health from the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation to recognize their contributions to understanding mental health. Beatrix Hamburg, a pioneering child and adolescent psychiatrist, passed away on April 16, 2018.


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