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JAMA 100 Years Ago
August 18, 2010


JAMA. 2010;304(7):804. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.1054

One of the objections urged against the establishment of a national Department of Public Health has been that such work does not properly belong to the federal government. As a matter of fact, the national government is already carrying on exactly such work as would be developed by such a department, but it is being done under the authority of one or more of the existing departments. As has been already pointed out in the hearings before the house and senate committees, what is desired in the establishment of a specific health bureau or department of the national government is not so much the inauguration of any new work, as the extension, correlation and systematization of work already being done in various departments. This is well illustrated in a circular recently issued by the Division of Publications of the United States Department of Agriculture, giving a list of the “Farmers' Bulletins” issued by the department. In past years a large number of pamphlets containing valuable information by experts has been issued by the Department of Agriculture, being inaugurated originally to convey to the farmer the necessary information regarding animal and vegetable pests, etc. This work has since been expanded so as to include pamphlets on almost every subject that relates to the farmer's physical or material well-being. Whatever improves the health of the farmer and his family would also improve the health of the citizens who were not farmers; yet, as the Department of Agriculture has authority to issue bulletins to farmers but not to the citizens, these pamphlets are sent out as “Farmers' Bulletins.” A glance at a few of the titles is interesting. No. 34, “Meats, Composition and Cooking;” No. 85, “Fish as Food;” No. 93, “Sugar as Food;” No. 121, “Beans, Peas and Other Legumes as Food;” No. 128, “Eggs and Their Uses as Food;” No. 182, “Poultry as Food;” No. 249, “Cereal and Breakfast Foods;” No. 375, “Care of Food in the Home;” No. 377, “Harmfulness of Headache Mixtures;” No. 391, “Economic Use of Meat in the Home,” etc.