Collections Spotlight: Ted F. Jackson Papers

23 07 2019
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Newspaper clipping “Veterinary school at MSU honors late Dr. Ted F. Jackson,” undated

In 1973, a Velsicol Chemical plant in St. Louis, Michigan mistakenly shipped a toxic flame retardant known as polybrominated biphenyl (PBB) to a livestock feed plant. Veterinarian Ted F. Jackson (DVM, class of 1944) discovered the PBB contamination in his patients, a herd of dairy cattle belonging to Frederic L. Halbert (MS, Chemical Engineering, class of 1968). Jackson was instrumental in determining that the cause of the herd’s illness was the feed.  The PBB contamination also spread to humans as the milk and meat from the affected cattle was consumed. One year passed before the animals were culled. Veterinarians euthanized approximately 30,000 cattle, 1.5 million chickens, and thousands of pigs and sheep.  They were buried in pits near Kalkaska, Michigan, along tons of food products made with contaminated milk.  That same year, Jackson and Halbert published “A Toxic Syndrome Associated with the Feeding of Polybrominated Biphenyl-Contaminated Protein Concentrate to Dairy Cattle” in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association.  In 1976, a long-term study was initiated to determine effects of the PBB exposure on humans.  The study continues today, administered by the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.

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Cover of article reprint, “A Toxic Syndrome Associated with the Feeding of Polybrominated Biphenyl-Contaminated Protein Concentrate to Dairy Cattle” in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 1974

Unfortunately, Jackson died prematurely in May 1975 after a heart attack.  As such, his contributions to the discovery of the PBB contamination are frequently overlooked.  In 1983, his son, Jeffrey F. Jackson, made a documentary film called “Cattlegate” about these events.

Recently, a small collection of papers belonging to Ted F. Jackson were donated to the Michigan State University Archives & Historical Collections. The collection primarily consists of research by Ted F. Jackson, D.V.M., and Frederic L. Halbert into dairy cattle that were fed PBB contaminated food, and the publication of their article in the Journal of American Veterinary Medical Association in 1974. There is also a draft of a letter written by Jackson’s family to Time magazine in response to a May 10, 1976 article which failed to include Jackson’s contribution to the discovery of PBB poisoning.  The Time article stated that Halbert began to study the cause of his cattle’s illness “[w]hen veterinarians were unable to diagnose the problem.”  It is unclear if the letter was published.

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Draft of letter to Time magazine from Jackson family members in response to a May 10, 1976 article

The collection also contains Jackson’s Doctor of Veterinary Medicine diploma (1944), a Registered Veterinarian certificate from the State of Michigan (1954), and slides and photographs of his veterinary practice.  A biography of Ted F. Jackson, and an item level inventory of the collection, which was provided by the donor, is included as well.  The collection is open to the public, and the finding aid can be viewed online: http://archives.msu.edu/findaid/ua10-3-382.pdf.

 

 

Written by Megan Badgley Malone                                                                                  collections & outreach archivist

 





Ag Expo 2010

13 07 2010

It is summer on the MSU Campus and that can mean only one thing:  Ag Expo.  Ag Expo is Michigan’s largest farm industry show and this summer marks the 31st year of the event.  The University Archives & Historical Collections will have a booth in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources tent.  Our theme this is year “Preserving Family History” and we will have handouts and displays on that topic.

Ag Expo is held from July 20-22, 2010.  It is located off Mt. Hope Road in East Lansing near the corner of Farm Lane.  For more information about Ag Expo, including times and directions, visit the website at http://www.agexpo.msu.edu.

Across the street from Ag Expo in the MSU Pavilion on Wednesday, July 21 will be the Great Dairy Adventure.  The Great Dairy Adventure is aimed at the young and the young at heart who wish to learn more about milk, cheese, and dairy.  It runs from 9:30am-3:00pm.  The UAHC booth will showcase the history of dairy at MSU and will include information on significant individuals such as G. Malcolm Trout, the Father of Homogenization.  The handouts from the UAHC will focus on learning games for kids.

For questions about the UAHC participation in either Ag Expo or the Great Dairy Adventure please email archives@msu.edu or call 517-355-2330.





Upcoming Events: Ag Expo and Great Dairy Adventure

13 07 2009

The University Archives will participate in two events next week that celebrate MSU’s agricultural heritage.  Ag Expo is on July 21-23 on the MSU Campus in the area north of Mt. Hope near the intersection with Farm Lane.  This year is the 30th anniversary of Ag Expo, which is the state’s largest and longest running outdoor farm show.  The MSU Archives will have a booth in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) tent.  The theme for CANR is “Family Futures,” so the theme for the archives is “Ensuring Family Futures by Preserving Family Pasts.”  Handouts about preserving family history for both children and adults will be available at the booth and archivists will be on hand to consult with people on their preservation and research needs.  On Tuesday, July 21, the MSU Archives will be celebrating its 40th anniversary with free cake in the CANR tent.  The cake will be served at 1:00pm.  For more information you can visit the Ag Expo website.

The Great Dairy Adventure will be on Wednesday, July 22 in the MSU Pavilion.  Focusing on dairy, the Great Dairy Adventure will allow children to pet different breeds of cows, milk a cow, be a milk mustache celebrity and more.  There will also be free dairy treats available.  The booth for the MSU Archives will feature facts about the history of dairying at MSU.  A handout/coloring sheet featuring Belle Sarcastic, a famous MSU dairy cow, will be free to children.

Admission and parking are free for both events.  Directions are available on the Ag Expo website.  The two activities are located near each other and families could easily visit both in one day.  We hope to see you next week!