Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Oregon State Board of Health

We've had a regular patron coming in this year, who is working on a Senior Thesis over at Reed College across the river. He's been viewing a lot of documents on the history of health in Oregon, and recently we pulled the Biennial Reports from the Oregon State Board of Health.

The first of these reports, dated January 1, 1905, outlines the creation of the Board of Health.
The Board was created by the Legislative Assembly of 1903, and immediately thereafter, in accordance with the act creating it, the Governor appointed Drs. Andrew C. Smith of Portland; C.J. Smith, of Pendleton; E. Barton Pickel, of Medford; Harry Lane, of Portland; E.A. Peirce, of Salem, and Alfred Kinney, of Astoria, members consisting the said Board of Health.
The Board was organized on March 14, 1903, and appointed Dr. Woods Hutchison, of Portland, its secretary and State Health Officer, and began its work at once, as will be observed herein; but owing to the fact that the National Conference of State Boards of Health was to adopt a standard of set birth and death blanks for the entire United States in June, 1903, it was deemed advisable by the Board to wait until this standard form could be secured before beginning its formal registration; hence July was the first month covered. As will be noticed, reports of contagious diseases were begun at once, and date from May.

Later on the in the report we see that the first of the contagious diseases discussed is the Bubonic Plague. It didn't seem a major issue and the report notes that, "Two cases of death from plague were reported in the Portland Chinatown, but prompt investigation and post-mortem examination showed the reports to have been entirely without formulation."

Other diseases mentioned in the report are smallpox, typhoid fever, scarlet fever and diphtheria, measles, and tuberculosis.

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