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Smoke and Fumes: A Hidden History of Oil and Tobacco

Industry Documents Library - Wed, 2016-07-20 14:53

The Washington-based Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) recently debuted an amazing database of documents pulled from the files of Big Oil as well as our Truth Tobacco Industry Documents archive (TTID). The Smoke and Fumes website is a culmination of their investigation into climate misinformation campaigns which in turn led to a dive into our tobacco documents to look for industry intersections. And find them they did!

The Oil industry’s efforts to mislead the public about climate science are well documented. Amidst the ongoing investigations and recent wave of climate litigation, comparisons to Big Tobacco have been obvious yet Exxon and its associates have rejected these parallels. CIEL’s research into TTID reveals compelling evidence that the relationship between these two industries is “neither coincidental nor casual.” The connections between oil and tobacco date back nearly a century and our tobacco documents show these industries have a long history of shared marketing and advertising strategies, research interests, PR firms, and scientists. For instance, in the 1970s, the Chair of BAT also served on the Board of Directors of Exxon and RJ Reynolds once owned and operated an oil company, American Independent Oil, which engaged in industry-wide projects. In the late 1950s the oil industry lent their expertise in mass spectrometry to tobacco companies looking to test cigarette smoke for toxins and both industries attempted to engage in joint research on filters.

These are just a few examples CIEL pulled from the tobacco documents. If you head over to our search box and type in “Shell Oil”, “Exxon”, or even “Esso”, you’ll be amazed at the thousands of documents that are retrieved.


Smoke and Fumes: A Hidden History of Oil and Tobacco from CIEL on Vimeo.

After all, “…the framers of the Constitution enjoyed the...

After all, “…the framers of the Constitution enjoyed the use of tobacco…how indignant they would have been at any attempt to infringe on that personal right through taxation, restrictions and prohibitions!” - the Tobacco Institute (1978)

In 1978, the Tobacco Institute, the now defunct lobbying arm of the US Tobacco Industry, published a paper entitled “The Smoking Controversy: A Perspective”.  This paper attempted to tell the “other side” of the story, namely that the smoking controversy is just that, a controversy, and that it must be resolved by more scientific research: “years of scientific research have failed to provide conclusive evidence that smoking causes disease…”  

In this short tract, a number of scenarios discredit the anti-tobacco movement including a political maneuver to seize or maintain power through the denial of pleasure, citing “this was true of ancient dietary laws, sexual taboos, restrictions on the theater and Prohibition. Others would say it is true today of anti-tobacco programs”.  A section called “The making of hypochondriacs” notes, “I wonder how many people who just could not give up smoking might have continued to lead a perfectly normal life had they not been plagued by fears of being not only in great peril, but actually sinful.”  And finally, the industry concludes that smoking is pleasurable and therefore a personal right - a fading freedom that should not be infringed upon.

Read the entire paper:

Tobacco Institute (1978) The Smoking Controversy: A Perspective.

An Old-Fashioned Expedition into the Vault

Brought to Light Blog - Mon, 2016-07-18 14:20

This is a guest post by Kristin Daniel, UCSF Archives and Special Collections Intern.

Dear Reader, you may not be aware of the fact that most—if not all—archives must deal with the looming specter of unprocessed legacy collections haunting their vaults.  Hark, what’s that I hear?  The sound of researchers gnashing their teeth at the thought of virgin cartons, brimming with knowledge, just beyond their reach?  In the name of Science and History, what can be done?

I’ll tell you good Reader!  An expedition is being undertaken at this very moment to survey those hidden but not forgotten boxes of lore that reside in the vault of the UCSF Archives. Possessing the requisite skills and patience, archivist David Uhlich and myself (your plucky and adroit, intern) are making our way through shelf after shelf of material – opening boxes, checking contents, and conferring with the notes of archivists gone by.

Sometimes we find what’s on the shelf matches what information we have, but sometimes we come across half-created records or material lacking adequate description.  Despite these setbacks, we roll up our sleeves and soldier on, updating existing records with new information about content and location, or creating shiny new records of our own.

It’s a long process, but it is important work.  Fear not, gentle Reader, for although the task seems Sisyphean in magnitude, the brave souls of the Archives and Special Collections are determined to succeed!

Categories: Brought to Light

Highlights from the State Medical Society Journals digitization project

Brought to Light Blog - Thu, 2016-07-14 09:56

We’ve become somewhat accustomed to seeing “smoking doctor” pictures, typically the product of tobacco advertising cynically appealing to authority. The above image comes from a naturalistic setting however, depicting pathologist Dr. Harrison Martland (see table of contents below) at work.

Dr. Martland is featured on the cover of the January 1984 edition of the Journal of the Medical Society of New Jersey (Vol. 81 no. 1), digitized by the Internet Archive as part of the NEH grant-funded project to digitize many of our state medical society journals.

The journal lacks any commentary on the smoking but does lead us to an article on the analysis of Dr. Martland’s historical autopsy records performed at Newark City Hospital from 1908 to 1911.

The author draws some interesting conclusions about the safety and violence of Newark from Dr. Martland’s records, but perhaps one of the most interesting details is his attempt to record all his findings in Latin! He gave up eventually, doubtless making the author’s analysis that little bit easier.

Check out this and many other journals from our collection and four other libraries at the Internet Archive’s State Medical Society Journals project page. Expect continued updates to the collection throughout the year.

Categories: Brought to Light

2014 Counter-marketing Study in NYC used Tobacco Documents to Highlight Racism

Industry Documents Library - Wed, 2016-07-13 12:52

“Racism Still Exists”: A Public Health Intervention Using Racism ‘Countermarketing’ Outdoor Advertising in a Black Neighborhood – a project and paper by Naa Oyo A. Kwate at Rutgers University.

This study and supporting tumblr blog reports on RISE (Racism Still Exists), a high-risk, high-reward public health intervention that used outdoor advertising to disseminate a “counter-marketing” campaign in New York City (NYC).

One component of the campaign was to use internal tobacco industry documents to demonstrate ways the industry marketed cigarettes, targeted specific populations, and sought to deny the dangers of smoking. Big Tobacco’s targeting of Black populations reveals much about how these companies perceived African Americans and the strategies they used to create and maintain Black smokers.

The RISE campaign generated significant public discourse, particularly in social media and the study results suggest that racism counter-marketing campaigns may have promise as a community-based intervention to address health inequalities.

Tobacco Documents used in a 2014 Countermarketing Study in...

Tobacco Documents used in a 2014 Countermarketing Study in NYC: 

“Racism Still Exists”: A Public Health Intervention Using Racism  ‘Countermarketing’ Outdoor Advertising in a Black Neighborhood - a project and paper by Naa Oyo A. Kwate at Rutgers.  Reported in the Journal of Urban Health: Bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine.

http://racismstillexists.tumblr.com/tagged/smoke/ - This amazing study and supporting tumblr blog reports on RISE (Racism Still Exists), a high-risk, high-reward public health intervention that used outdoor advertising to disseminate a “countermarketing” campaign in New York City (NYC). The campaign generated significant public discourse, particularly in social media and the results suggest that racism countermarketing campaigns may have promise as a community-based intervention to address health inequalities. 

One component of the campaign was to show, through the internal tobacco industry documents, the ways the industry marketed cigarettes, targeted specific populations, and sought to deny the dangers of smoking.  Big Tobacco’s targeting of Black populations reveals much about how these companies perceived African Americans and the strategies they used to create and maintain Black smokers.

New Tobacco Documents and New Website Features for July

Industry Documents Library - Fri, 2016-07-08 11:06


52 new documents have been added to the Truth Tobacco Industry Documents today.

This includes:

You may also notice some changes to the Industry Documents Library and Truth Tobacco Industry Documents homepages. Each homepage now contains four big-button links to highlighted materials, such as Industry Videos, Industry Web Archives, and Popular Tobacco Documents. The TTID homepage includes a link to the UCSF Library’s Tobacco Control Archives, located in Archives and Special Collections on the Library’s 5th floor.

We’ve also added a “Featured” section in the bottom right-hand corner, which displays links to random documents in the database; choices change each time you re-visit the page. Try it out for a quick browsing break!

Baunscheidt’s Lebenswecker: The 19th-Century “Life-Awakener”

Brought to Light Blog - Thu, 2016-07-07 09:10

Another installment in our blog series that explores artifacts related to health practices now considered inaccurate or fraudulent. Check out Carl Baunscheidt’s Lebenswecker.

Baunscheidt’s Lebenswecker, circa 1850. Instrument pictured with cap on and off. Item 436, UCSF Archives Artifact Collection.

The Lebenswecker, translated as the “Life-Awakener” or the “Resuscitator,” was developed by German inventor Carl Baunscheidt in the mid-19th century. The small instrument included over 30 thin, spring-loaded needles concentrated at the end of an ebony staff.

Detail of Lebenswecker. Item 436, UCSF Archives Artifact Collection.

According to Baunscheidt, the Lebenswecker was designed to quickly puncture the skin, creating “artificial pores.” The “pores,” i.e. puncture wounds, were then covered with a proprietary irritating oil called “Oleum Baunscheidtii” that produced blisters. As another option, the practitioner could dip the needles in the oil before application, thus creating a more concentrated injection. As the blisters formed and drained, Baunscheidt claimed, the “health-destroying morbid matter” in the body naturally escaped.

Illustration of Adonis and Aphrodite with “most generally appropriate” areas of the body on which to use the Lebenswecker. From Baunscheidtism, or a New Method of Cure, 1865.



Baunscheidt developed a health philosophy around the Lebenswecker known as Baunscheidtism. His inspiration, as detailed in his book Baunscheidtism, or a New Method of Cure, came from his experience watching mosquitoes bite his rheumatic hand. As he writes, “it seemed as if the pains he had suffered, had fled with the flies…the inflicted sting caused an opening in the epidermis just large enough for the fine, volatile, but pathogenic substances lodged in the skin to exude.”

Detail of illustration from Baunscheidtism, or a New Method of Cure, 1865.

Baunscheidt claimed that the Lebenswecker could cure everything from sleeplessness to measles to epilepsy. Baunscheidtism practitioners, like John Linden, made similarly broad claims. As Linden noted in his work, Manual of the Exanthematic Method of Cure, the Lebenswecker could eliminate a tapeworm because, after repeated applications, “the unwelcome guest will soon become disgusted with his quarters, and be compelled to vacate.”

Order sheet fixed inside John Linden’s Manual of the Exanthematic Method of Cure, 1882.

Baunscheidt’s philosophy, backed by personal testimonies included in his publications, achieved a measure of popularity in the 19th and early 20th century, especially in Germany and the United States. Today, his treatment is widely discredited.

Two different designs of Lebenswecker. Items 436 and 242, UCSF Archives Artifact Collection.

We house two different “Life-Awakeners” in the UCSF Archives and Special Collections and a similar instrument developed by Baunscheidt called an artificial leech. Please contact us if you would like to come in and see the artifacts! We also have editions of John Linden and Carl Baunscheidt’s writings or you can read Baunscheidtism, or a New Method of Cure online in our digital collection.

Categories: Brought to Light

Article Spotlight: Analysis of British American Tobacco’s questionable use of privilege claims

Industry Documents Library - Tue, 2016-07-05 12:40

Every month, we highlight a newly published article along with a few key industry documents used by the author(s):

LeGresley E, Lee K. Analysis of British American Tobacco’s questionable use of privilege and protected document claims at the Guildford Depository. Tobacco Control 2016 Jun 27.

Tobacco companies have a documented history of attempting to hide information from public scrutiny, including inappropriate privilege claims. The authors conducted a search of the Truth Tobacco Industry Documents Library which identified inconsistent privilege claims, and duplicates of documents withheld by BAT from public visitors. “A review of the validity of these claims was conducted against recognized legal definitions of privilege. The authors found that BAT has asserted inappropriate privilege claims over 49% of the documents reviewed (n=63). The quantity of such claims and consistency of the stated rationale for the privilege claims suggest a concerted effort rather than human error.”

Key Documents from the UCSF Truth Tobacco Industry Documents:

Just Send Me a Signal: Encrypted Communication, Whether or Not You’re a Spy

Mobilized - Thu, 2015-04-16 16:15

How worried should I be about my privacy?  While this question is not yet keeping me up at night, it’s been on my mind more in the past year than ever before. Privacy online, over email, and in a social media context is one thing, but what about the privacy of my personal communications say over the phone or via text message? Considering how startled I am when I actually get a phone call shows how little I use the phone to talk to anyone anymore. I’m more concerned about privacy over text messaging. This led me to explore what I can do to protect the privacy of my messaging on mobile devices, specifically my iPhone. I heard about an open source app called Signal offered by Open Whisper Systems and decided to check it out.

Why is it important?

There are a lot of ways to think about privacy in 2015. Ever since Edward Snowden, former contractor to the U.S. National Security Agency, leaked documents which revealed global surveillance programs run by the NSA, it’s been hard not to wonder about potential impact on our daily lives. If nothing else, Snowden triggered a tide of growing public awareness regarding the extent to which mass surveillance (and secrecy about surveillance) is de facto. How do we balance national security against information privacy?

I’m not a spy. I’m not engaged in illegal or illicit activity. Nor am I generally a paranoid person. My use of messaging is pretty average, nothing anyone would be surprised by, so why should I care if the government is listening?

This is precisely the mindset Glenn Greenwald seeks to challenge, this idea that even people who are uncomfortable with mass surveillance believe there’s no harm in it for them because they’re not doing anything wrong, not doing anything they need to hide. Only people engaged in bad acts have a reason to hide. Right? Privacy is no longer even a “social norm,” according to Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook.

The trouble is, “when somebody knows that they might be watched, the behavior they engage in is vastly more conformist and compliant… people, when they’re in a state of being watched, make decisions not that are the byproduct of their own agency but that are about the expectations that others have of them or the mandates of societal orthodoxy.”

transcript link

If we assume we’re being watched, whether or not we care, a good case can be made that this is the ultimate in societal control. “Mass surveillance creates a prison in the mind.” That’s no way to live as individuals, or as citizens. What freedoms—even just of the mind—are being eroded gradually, perniciously, in our day-to-day use of technology, and what are the costs (now and in the future)? I find these questions seriously interesting to consider.

As Greenwald says, we all need “to go somewhere where we can think and reason and interact and speak without the judgmental eyes of others being cast upon us.”

If you decide you’re willing to render yourself harmless, “sufficiently unthreatening to those who wield political power, then and only then can you be free of the dangers of surveillance. ”

Okay, so let’s see what Signal is about.

Why choose Signal?

Signal started out as an encrypted calling app for iPhones and iPads. The new version, Signal 2.0, adds encrypted text messages using a protocol called TextSecure. Users can communicate via voice or text securely because Signal employs end-to-end encryption. The goal is for Signal to be “a unified private voice and text communication platform for iPhone, Android, and the browser.”

One persuasive argument for its use is that the code is open source. The Intercept makes the additional argument of consistency, particularly for iPhone users:

Signal is also one special place on the iPhone where users can be confident all their communications are always fully scrambled. Other apps with encryption tend to enter insecure modes at unpredictable times — unpredictable for many users, at least. Apple’s iMessage, for example, employs strong encryption, but only when communicating between two Apple devices and only when there is a proper data connection. Otherwise, iMessage falls back on insecure SMS messaging. iMessage also lacks forward secrecy and inspect-able source code.

After testing it for a couple of weeks with several contacts, I can say it works fairly well. It’s slightly glitchy, more basic (with fewer features) and not as elegant as iMessage. Not bad, but not awesome, which I’ll get back to at the end. First, a few observations.

Once you download Signal and allow it access to your contacts you can start messaging with someone who has Signal, but here’s the rub: they have to find you, you can’t locate them.

Notifications do not reveal who sent you a message and so you have to open the app to find out.

You have to turn sound on in your iPhone’s Settings in order for Signal to work. If you turn sound off, you’ll get an error message.

There is often a very slight delay in sending a message, and a longer delay when sending an attachment. Frequently the delay is so long the error message “Attachment is downloading” displays.

[oh, and the attachment which took so long to download? Not a dick pic.]

Ahem. Otherwise, the process for taking pics, accessing the camera roll and attaching is quite similar to iMessage.

If you want to message with more than one person at a time, you have to name the group. I created one called “ladiez” for a group including myself and my friends Michele and Kimberly.

The in-app calling feature doesn’t work, and I can’t figure out why. Each time, I get a screen that displays “Connecting…” but the phone just continues to ring.

You can download the Signal app and start using it from anywhere, say for example a sailboat in the middle of the Caribbean.

To Signal or not to Signal?

I think my answer is Not, for now, though it was a fun experiment and I’ll keep the app on my iPhone. Maybe I’ll use it occasionally for more uh…sensitive content. There was definitely something sneaky feeling about it, which I kind of enjoyed, as did those I enlisted to help test it out. I can say it does make me feel more secure—and yeah, potentially more daring—to know Signal and a growing number of other tools for encryption are out there. To know people are doing something about the various ways in which our privacy is at risk.

Links for further exploration
  1. Encryption Works: How to Protect Your Privacy in the Age of NSA Surveillance
  2. The Great Sim Heist: How Spies Stole The Keys To The Encryption Castle
  3. As crypto wars begin, FBI silently removes sensible advice to encrypt your devices
  4. As encryption spreads, U.S. grapples with clash between privacy, security
  5. Stop Taking Dick Pics, But Not Because of the NSA (SFW)
Categories: Mobilized

TimelineJS: A Superb Open Source Tool

Mobilized - Mon, 2015-03-02 16:13
What is it?

TimelineJS is a web-based tool that allows you to easily create visually-rich, interactive timelines generated by your data. It’s an open source tool from Knight Lab at Northwestern University and is free to use — all you need is your content and a Google Drive spreadsheet.

How it works

Just download the spreadsheet template from the TimelineJS website, input your text, images, and links, then upload it to your Google Drive account. Next, publish your spreadsheet in Google Drive according to TimelineJS directions, then return to the TimelineJS website to paste your Google sheet link and view the result. You can share the link or embed your timeline on your own website.


My timeline Same Sex Marriages in the United States and When They Took Effect uses the TimelineJS default settings for visual effects and themes, and I think those produce a clean, professional appearance. However, you can alter visual effects and themes to your satisfaction. You can also edit and update your data within the Google spreadsheet at any time, and the changes will automatically appear in your timeline. For instance, I’ve had to update marriage equality information for a number of new states!

Where it excels
  • TimelineJS scores big for ease of use. This spreadsheet method makes Timeline JS much simpler and faster to work with than other timeline tools that default to creating the timeline slide by slide and element by element.
  • It also really shines in its ability to display your timeline responsively. Check out a timeline on your phone. It adapts and looks good on both large and small screens, though I would recommend doing timeline creation on a large screen due to the complexities of inputting information.
  • There are no options for creating an account, so it’s important to keep track of links to timelines that you construct.
  • Each slide must have something entered in the Start Date column in order to display. Don’t alter the headings or delete columns from the spreadsheet template or the TimelineJS generator won’t work.
  • If your website runs on WordPress, you may need to use this plugin and your Google spreadsheet URL instead of the standard <iframe> embed code.
Who is it for?

TimelineJS is a flexible tool that can enhance many topics and areas of study. Most users will simply gather materials for the story they want to tell and enter them into the spreadsheet template. Those who have JSON skills can go further and create custom installations.

Timelines are an excellent way to visually convey transition and change within sciences or social movements, and there are lots of possibilities for teaching and learning. These can extend beyond simply the instructor presenting content to requiring class participation in gathering and describing the data. Since creation and editing of this timeline tool is done in a shareable Google spreadsheet, direct collaboration is possible. Students could also select and construct topics and histories individually or in group projects.

More examples

Be sure to look through some other examples for inspiration and ideas for your own timelines.

Categories: Mobilized
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