View all series for DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH
The Department of Health was created in 1910 (Chapter 560, Acts
of 1910). It assumed functions held by the Board of Health which
had been created in 1874 to advise the legislature and local
officials. The board offered lectures, collected information on
public health, and responded to requests for help from local
authorities, but had no power to mitigate nuisances or enforce
public health laws (Chapter 200, Laws of 1874). The board was
reorganized in 1880 and empowered to establish local boards and
to deal with emergencies. Increased public interest in the need
for state health care services led to the creation of the state
Department of Health in 1910, with expanded oversight through the
Bureau of Communicable Diseases, Bureau of Bacteriology, Bureau
of Chemistry, Bureau of Sanitary Engineering, and Bureau of Vital
Early attempts to establish a state system of vital records
registration included seventeenth century legislation requiring
county court and church registration of births, marriages, and
deaths. In 1865, legislation was passed directing clerks of the
county circuit courts and Baltimore City Court of Common Pleas to
maintain birth and death record books, and individuals and
institutions involved with births, deaths, and burials were
required to file information with the clerks, who then filed
copies with the Secretary of the Senate. Unfortunately, few
citizens or institutions complied with the law.
In 1898, vital records legislation was passed creating a uniform
system of registration for the state. The secretary of the Board
of Health was named state registrar of vital statistics, working
with local registrars and serving as a central location for
filing original birth and death certificates. Baltimore City had
established its own program to register births and deaths within
its health department earlier in 1875. The city was permitted to
maintain its own system until July 1, 1972, when the Division of
Vital Records assumed responsiblity for registration. In 1910,
the General Assembly reorganized the state Board of Health by
renaming it the Department of Health and establishing five
bureaus within it, including the Bureau of Vital Statistics. In
1951, the bureau was renamed the Divison of Vital Records, and in
1969, state health and mental hygiene agencies were merged into
the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
Currently, all births, deaths, marriages, and divorces that occur
in the state are registered with the Division of Vital Records.
The division maintains birth and death records for Baltimore City
from January 1, 1875, and for the twenty-three counties from
August 1898. It also has marriage certificates from 1951, and
divorce decrees from 1961.
The activities of the Department of Health were combined with
those of the Department of Mental Hygiene in 1961 with the
creation of the Board of Health and Mental Hygiene (Chapter 841,
Acts of 1961). The board assumed responsibility for the health
interests of Marylanders, state facilities for care of
chronically ill, mentally ill, mentally retarded, and tuberculous
persons, and medical care programs for the indigent. The two
departments continued to administer programs and facilities as
directed by the board.
Executive reorganization in 1969 resulted in the creation of the
Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, which superseded both
the board and the departments. The Department of Health and
Mental Hygiene encompasses programs and facilities of its
predecessor agencies, medical professional licensing boards, the
Comprehensive Health Planning Agency, and numerous advisory
boards. The department is responsible for dealing with
epidemiological hazards to health such as communicable diseases,
and organization of efforts to prevent or control their impact.
The department also purchases or provides direct care services,
including residential and outpatient care for the mentally ill,
mentally retarded, chronically ill, impaired elderly, and persons
with addictive conditions.
Board of Examiners in Optometry. MSA SH79.
Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers. MSA SH81.
Board of Health. MSA SH82.
Board of Health and Mental Hygiene. MSA SH234.
Board of Mental Hygiene. MSA SH39.
Board of Undertakers. MSA SH80.
Commissioner of Mental Hygiene. MSA SH235.
Commisioners for Erecting a Hospital for the Insane. MSA SH27.
Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. MSA SH108.
Department of Mental Hygiene. MSA SH40.
Maryland Hospital. MSA SH26.
Maryland Hospital for the Insane. MSA SH29.
Spring Grove State Hospital. MSA SH28.
State Lunacy Commission. MSA SH31.