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JAMA 100 Years Ago
October 24/31, 2012


Author Affiliations

JAMA 100 Years Ago Section Editor: Jennifer Reiling, Assistant Editor.

JAMA. 2012;308(16):1614. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.3285

There is no more effective way of bringing about intelligent and uniform health legislation in the various states and of stimulating states lagging behind in sanitary work than to show in concrete form existing conditions and what has already been accomplished. This has been done by the United States Public Health Service in a bulletin just issued.1 In this bulletin is presented a full sketch of the machinery provided by state laws for the protection of health.

The ground has been covered in considerable detail. An analysis of the laws precedes the text of the statutes themselves. A historical review is given of early sanitary legislation in the United States, from the medical practice acts passed in Virginia in 1639, in Massachusetts in 1649 and in New York and New Jersey in 1665 down to the passage of the Massachusetts law of 1797 establishing boards of health for towns. The dates of organization of boards of health or health offices in the more important cities are given. Baltimore and Philadelphia led other cities in this respect being prompted in their action by the yellow fever epidemic of 1793.

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