The Spirit of 1848 A Network Linking Politics, Passion, & Public Health 
an officially recognized caucus within the American Public Health Association

APHA Activities
Courses, Researchers
& Syllabi
Resources, Networks
& Links
Sigerist Circle
ListServ & Membership
Why 1848?



The Spirit of 1848 is a network of people concerned about social inequalities in health. Our purpose is to spur new connections among the many of us involved in different areas of public health, who are working on diverse public health issues (whether as researchers, practitioners, teachers, activists, or all of the above), and live scattered across diverse regions of the United States and other countries. In doing so, we hope to help counter the fragmentation that many of us face: within and between disciplines, within and between work on particular diseases or health problems, and within and between different organizations geared to specific issues or social groups. By making connections, we can overcome some of the isolation that we feel and find others with whom we can develop our thoughts, strategize, and enhance efforts to eliminate social inequalities in health.

Our common focus is that we are all working, in one way or another, to understand and change how social divisions based on social class, race/ethnicity, gender, sexual identity, and age affect the public's health. As an activist and scholarly network, we have established four committees to conduct our work:.

Public Health Data: This committee will focus on how and why we measure and study social inequalities in health, and develop projects to influence the collection of data in US vital statistics, health surveys, and disease registries.

Curriculum: This committee will focus on how public health and other health professionals and students are trained, and will gather and share information about (and possibly develop) courses and materials to spur critical thinking about social inequalities in health, in their present and historical context.   

E-Networking: This committee will focus on networking and communication within the Spirit of 1848, using e-mail, web page, newsletters, and occasional mailings

History: This committee is an affiliate of the Sigerist Circle, an already established organization of public health and medical historians who use critical theory (Marxian, feminist, post-colonial, and otherwise) to illuminate the history of public health and how we have arrived where we are today; its presence in the Spirit of 1848 will help to ensure that our network's projects are grounded in this sense of history, complexity, and context.  

Work among these committees will be coordinated by our Coordinating Committee, which consists of two co-chairs and the chairs/co-chairs of each of the four sub-committees. To ensure accountability, all public activities sponsored by the Spirit of 1848 (e.g., public statements, mailings, sessions at conferences, other public actions) will be organized by these committees and approved by the Coordinating Committee (which will communicate on at least a monthly basis). Annual meetings of the network (so that we can actually see each other and talk together) will take place at the yearly American Public Health Association meetings. Finally, please note that we are NOT a dues-paying membership organization. Instead, we are an activist, volunteer network: you become part of the Spirit of 1848 by working on one of our projects, through one of our committees -- and we invite you to join in!


To JOIN THE LISTSERV send an email to
with the word "subscribe" in the subject line


First prepared: Fall 1994; revised: November 2000, November 2001 , March 2005