Harry T. Phillips was born in Cape Town, South Africa. He received his M.B., Ch.B., D.P.H., and M.D. degrees at the University of Cape Town. In 1939, he and Eva Salber, a medical school classmate, were married. They immigrated to the United States in 1956. He has held positions at the Harvard School of Public Health, the City of Newton, Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, and the University of North Carolina. He retired in 1983 as emeritus professor of public health.