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Philip Gadsden Hasell Papers, 1914-1958

Philip Gadsden ("Shrimp") Hasell was born in 1900. He attended private school in Montgomery, Ala., in 1908, but returned to South Carolina the next year to attend Porter Military Academy in Charleston. Following graduation he enrolled in The Citadel from which he graduated in 1920 with a B.S. degree in civil engineering. While attending Porter, Hasell met Theodore Brevard Hayne (1898-1930), of Congaree, S.C., and the two young men became roommates at The Citadel. Their friendship was based in part on a mutual interest in mosquito-born diseases, especially malaria, which posed a serious public health concern in South Carolina through the end of World War II.

After graduation from The Citadel, Theodore Hayne went on to a distinguished career as a malariologist before attending the Medical College of South Carolina. After medical school, Hayne resumed his work on mosquito-born diseases, and in 1928 he joined the Rockefeller Foundation's International Health Division and was assigned to the West Africa Yellow Fever Commission in Yaba, Nigeria.

In the years immediately after Philip Hasell's graduation from The Citadel in 1920, he worked in various positions with the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey and the South Carolina Highway Department. Hasell and Theodore Hayne collaborated on a malaria survey in Lake City, Fla., as employees of the Public Health Service in 1922. The following year Hasell attended the Johns Hopkins School of Hygeine and Public Health for a course in Helminthology, Protozoology and Parisitology. From 1923 until 1928 he was employed by the Rockefeller Foundation to work on various projects with the South Carolina Board of Health as a malaria control engineer. He organized a malaria control survey of the Lake Murray Basin before the waters were impounded. After completing his work at Lake Murray, Hasell was in charge of malaria control, water and sewage purification and milk sanitation with the State Board of Health. From 1933 until 1937 Hasell served with the Public Health Service and was responsible for setting up and directing anti-malaria work in South Carolina. Following this assignment, he was in charge of the laboratory and experimental work with the Malaria Research Division of the State Board of Health.

In February 1939 he was appointed Sanitary Engineer with the South Carolinina Public Service Authority and was assigned to the Santee-Cooper power and navigation project. Among the records documenting his work on this project are three journals (3 January 1938-31 August 1939; 1 September 1939-29 March 1940; and 1 April-5 December 1940, 24-26 February 1941). These journals record the myriad activities in which Hasell was engaged in his capacity as Sanitary Engineer. For instance, on 13 February 1939 he left Columbia at 6:15 a.m., arrived in Charleston at 9:15, and departed for the Pinopolis area to make a reconaissance survey "down old canal from Biggin church to West Branch of Cooper river...found plenty of aedes Larvae." In addition to the more serious danger from contracting malaria, his duties entailed other perils for on 13 September 1939 he recorded that he "caught hell last nite with poison oak." He traveled that day and the next, but stayed home in bed for four days from Saturday the 9th until Tuesday the 12th. On the 18th he investigated a complaint about an outbreak of malaria at WPA Camp #1. Only two cases were confirmed and in both instances the men were infected before arriving at the camp.

Malaria remained a serious public health problem in South Carolina throughout the 1930s. In 1930 malaria was resposible for the deaths of 16 of every 100,000 South Carolinians. Conditions in the rural counties in the lowcountry were far worse than those over the state as a whole. Orangeburg County accounted for more than ten percent of the state's deaths from malaria. These counties were also plagued by high unemployment and low capital investment.

The campaign to eradicate malaria from the five counties affected by the impoundment of the Santee and Cooper rivers is documented in this collection. It contains four hundred sixty-three manuscripts, 1930-1943, 1945; two hundred twenty-six photographs, ca. 1938-1942; seven manuscript volumes, 1930, 1932, 1937-1941; and one hundred fifty-six technical leaflets and other publications, 1914-1958, chiefly issued by the U.S. Public Health Service. In addition to the local population affected by the Santee-Cooper project, some of whom were replaced and relocated while others remained in the area, the Public Service Authority was responsible for more than twenty-five WPA camps housing approximately 6,000 workers. During the four years that Hasell worked with the Public Service Authority, he filed bi-monthly reports of activities. There are also progress reports of Dr. E.M. Rice, Director of the Health and Sanitation Division, and of E.T. Heyward who served as acting director after Rice left for military duty.

Hasell's correspondence and reports reveal the complexity of his job as he was responsible for a number of different programs, even at one time overseeing the division's fleet of cars and trucks. When Hasell first went to work with the Public Service Authority, the thousands of acres to be covered by the impoundment of the rivers were being cleared. Much of the land was swampy with thick vegetation and trees. Most, if not all, of the photographs in the collection were taken by Hasell and processed by the Jack Rabbit Co. in Spartanburg. Some of the photographs were taken before February 1939 when Hasell worked as an engineer with the Malaria Research Division of the State Board of Health. The photographs clearly reveal the magnitude of the task that confronted those involved in clearing the land and constructing dams as well as those who were combatting the mosquito population. The main thrust of the latter effort was to eradicate the mosquito population before the waters were impounded.

Hasell worked primarily in the areas around Pinopolis, Moncks Corner, and St. Stephen. He spent the majority of his time in the field collecting larvae, selecting locations for experimental impoundages, inspecting WPA camps, setting out mosquito traps, and working with local health departments and townspeople. Following a visit to Pinopolis and Moncks Corner in August 1939, he observed?"I would like to note here that the inhabitants of these two communities are rather primitive in the disposal of waste water and the methods used are most conducive to the production of enormous numbers of mosquitoes." After working in the area contiguous to the Santee diversion dam in February 1940, he attributed the slow progress of the work "to the fairly large area, 16 sq. miles of swamp, and the difficulty of traversing the terrain. There are numerous deep sloughs, large creeks, and two rivers to be crossed. Many patches of Myrtles, briars, and other underbrush, including cane brakes, make mapping tedious and retard progress."

Three crews under Hasell's supervision conducted larvicide operations which involved the application of larvicide oil on the surface of pools and ponds to eradicate mosquito larvae. In addition to clearing vegetation, crews dug and tiled drainage ditches and installed screens in houses over a broad area within one mile of the high water mark of the reservoir. WPA workers received typhoid inoculations, and the civilian population was given periodic blood examinations. One survey of African-American school children revealed an exceptionally high incidence of malaria.

With the outbreak of World War II and the active intervention of the United States after Pearl Harbor, many of the personnel who had been involved in the work on the Santee-Cooper project departed for military service. Hasell was becoming restless and was in correspondence with former colleagues who were serving in the military. His eagerness to join the military as a malaria control officer may have influenced his opinion of the work at Santee-Cooper when he wrote a former colleague on 11 March 1942?"I am afraid to even think of what is going to happen around here this summer with the two reservoirs in the mess they are in. Neither have been properly prepared for impoundment and in addition to this, the water is to be raised in the summer months and still in addition no one in the outfit knows what in the hell it is all about....I am supposed to control malaria, handicapped by a technical staff composed of a Botany teacher from a girl's college, a Clinical Technician from the Baptist Hospital, an ex-bank clerk, and a country boy. None of which has ever had five minutes experience in any phase of public health work, this being their first job." As the work progressed in 1942 and 1943, a reduction in force occurred, and there was evidence of tighter bureaucratization and accountability. By 1943, the main emphasis of the work seemed to be the effort to screen houses within a specified distance of the lands that were to be flooded.

The correspondence and reports cease at the end of 1943, shortly before Philip Hasell left the project to begin training for malaria control work in the U.S. Army.

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