The Health of the Commonwealth by James E. Higgins

The Health of the Commonwealth A Brief History of Medicine, Public Health, and Disease in Pennsylvania by James E. Higgins Temple University Press/The Pennsylvania Historical Association, 138 pp., paperback $19.95 The history of public health and medicine is more important now than ever. As Pennsylvania weathers global pandemics and health crises, it is essential to understand how our current...
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“The Not So Good Old Days”: Disease and the Struggle for Public Health in Pennsylvania

In 1930 A. J. Bohl was proud to work in the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH). After 25 years there, he wrote an article in Pennsylvania’s Health in which he recalled growing up in the 1880s, when disease and illness ravaged the state. “There wasn’t much attention paid to the communicable diseases. Everybody, as a matter of course, had measles, chicken pox, whooping cough and mumps, and...
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Editor’s Letter

As part of our mission “to introduce readers to Pennsylvania’s rich culture and historic legacy,” we at Pennsylvania Heritage seek to connect the commonwealth’s past with what Pennsylvania is today or what it is anticipated to become in the future. In this effort, we strive to publish stories on a variety of subjects, some of which have been overlooked or underrepresented in history, that relate...
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The College of Physicians of Philadelphia: “Not for Oneself, But for All”

The celebration com­menced with the ar­rival of out-of-town guests on Sunday evening, January 2, 1887. For the next two days, the fellows of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, led by their president, S. Weir Mitchell, celebrated the centennial anni­versary of their beloved insti­tution. Although the weather was bitterly cold, the gala receptions, lavish dinners, congratulatory addresses...
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The Fairmount Water Works: “One of the Very Prettiest Spots the Eye Can Look Upon”

Error and the human condition, being bound tightly together, generally keep a sullen kind of company. Yet as unpromising as that pair might seem, their offspring sometimes attain startling beauty. Certainly the grace and charm of Philadelphia’s Fairmount Water Works, on the east bank of the Schuylkill River, derive both from the human condition and the fitful attempts to improve it....
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