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(Health Department)

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The Baltimore City Health Department dates back to 1793 when the Maryland Legislature authorized the appointment of a quarantine physician for the port. A severe outbreak of yellow fever in nearby Philadelphia and the belief that disease was transmitted through spoiled ship cargoes also led to the formation of a voluntary committee of health at the same time. In 1797 the newly formed city government established a health officer and the Commissioners of Health to take preventive measures against disease.

In an effort to save money the City Commissioners (see RG.3) and Commissioners of Health were merged in 1809. Following a serious outbreak of yellow fever during 1819, a separate health board composed of three commissioners was formed in 1820; in 1844 this board was combined again briefly with the city commissioners. For the remainder of the nineteenth century the health board was concerned primarily with containment of infectious disease, abatement of unsanitary conditions, and other remedial measures.

The new 1898 municipal charter placed a health department in the administrative framework of the department of public safety and gave functional authority within the agency to a single health commissioner. As concern for public welfare expanded, this agency soon acquired many additional responsibilities such as child health care, food inspection, occupational safety, and enforcement of housing hygiene. In recognition of this, the 1946 charter made it a fully independent city agency, a status it currently retains.

For additional information see: Laws of Maryland, 1793, Ch. 56; Ords. 11 and 15 (1797); Ord. 3 (1819); Ord. 6 (1844); Baltimore City Charter of 1898, 71-78; Baltimore City Charter of 1946, Sect. 81; and Jacob H. Hollander, The Financial History of Baltimore (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1899).

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DateSeries NameDescriptionMSA Citation
  Details1798-1907HRS Records

Variety of material associated with the city's efforts to prevent disease, administer public hospitals, and investigate health-related matters. Included are coroner's reports relating to diseased individuals, administrative reports, bills, and correspondence.

See separate item index available at the Baltimore City Archives.

Name index to Coroner's Inquests (BCA 1215).

Name index to Interment Reports, 1834-1840 (BCA 1431-32).

  Details1881-1918Quarantine RecordsTwo volumes (1881-1918) of reports of vessels examined at the Baltimore Quarantine Hospital with the name of vessel, commanding captain, number of crew and passengers, tonnage, money received, port of departure, when boarded, period of quarantine, and remarks. The third volume (1881-1918) is a record of people admitted to the Marine Hospital with contagious diseases with name of patient, disease, length of illness, when received and from what department, race, sex, age, nationality, residence, occupation, habits, convalescence, discharge date, and remarks.BRG19-2
  Details1833-1935Minutes of the Board of Trustees of the Poor for Baltimore City and County and Board Minutes of Subsequent Agencies

Minutes of the meetings of the trustees and of the supervisory board of city charities. Subjects include donations, maintenance of facilities, actions regarding individual accounts, admissions and other statistics, almshouse inventories, administrative actions, and accounts of correspondence.

Minutes for March 20, 1848-November 18, 1863, December 29, 1869-November 4, 1874, February 25, 1884-January 7, 1889 and Mary 29, 1893-January 6, 1905 are missing.

On March 4, 1868, the name of the almshouse changed from Almshouse of Baltimore City to Bayview Asylum.

Records were deposited in the Maryland Historical Society (MS. 1866) by the Baltimore City Department of Social Services on December 4, 1970.

  Details1930-1950Maps, Charts, and Miscellaneous ItemsMaps of Baltimore wards, 1933; maps of eastern and western health districts, ca. 1935; Health Department building floor plans; administrative diagrams; television scripts; and photographs.BRG19-4
  Details1933, 1936-1937Bureau of Communicable Disease ScrapbooksScrapbooks documenting the diptheria prevention campaigns of 1933 and 1937 and measles campaign of 1936-37. Includes form letters from Huntington Williams, Commissioner of Health; examples of record forms used in the campaigns; advertisements used in the newspapers and other publications; photographs of window displays; press releases; and financial statements.BRG19-5
  Details1965-1975Commission on Health Weekly Letters to the MayorWeekly reports with highlights of significant departmental activities and statistics of births, deaths, infant deaths, reportable diseases, and mortality by major causes.BRG19-6
  Details1973-1979WIC Administrative Chronological FilesCorrespondence and reports relating to operation of the Women, Infants, and Children Health and Food Program (WIC) in Baltimore. Subjects include relations with the Maryland State Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, personnel actions, and policy formulation.BRG19-7
  Details1975-1981WIC Administrative Subject Files

Correspondence, reports, and forms associated with the Baltimore WIC program. The focus of the material is upon internal management of the program.

See separate file folder listing.

  Details1817-1823House of Industry Records

Records of the lottery authorized to raise money for the House of Industry, treasurer and committee reports, insurance policies, correspondence, and checks. These materials primarily document the financial transactions involved in the effort to establish the House of Industry. This institution was to have provided employment opportunities for the "able poor" but although money was collected and a suitable site purchased, the House of Industry never became a reality and the property was eventually sold.

For more information see the listings under "House of Industry" in William H. Brune, Index to the Ordinances and Resolutions of the Mayor and City Council of Baltimore, 1797-1906 (Baltimore: Kohn and Pollock, 1907), the Baltimore American for the years 1815-23, and Douglas G. Carroll, Jr. and Blanche D. Coll, "The American Almshouse: An Early History," Maryland Historical Magazine 66 (Summer 1971): 135-52.

  Details1913-1915Commissioner of Health CorrespondenceCopies of correspondence of Commissioner Nathan Gorter relating to Health Department concerns such as personnel, disease control and prevention, health inspections of buildings and food, and operation of municipal health care facilities, most particularly the Quarantine Hospital. Correspondents include the Mayor, Comptroller, and staff. Each volume contains a name and subject index and a chronological listing of all items.BRG19-10
  Details1815-1984Annual Reports

Published volumes include summaries and tables of the work performed by the Health Department. Also included is organizational charts. Missing are the years 1850-1869, 1911, 1982-1983.

Container Listing is available.

  Details1827, 1835-1860, 1864, 1867Coroner's Inquests IndexIndex to the Coroner's Inquests located among the HRS indexed items in BRG19-1.BRG19-12
  Details1834-1840Interments Name IndexIndex to Interment records located among the HRS indexed records in BRG19-1.BRG19-13
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