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Health, Board of

[Record group 37]
Alternative/Former Names
Health, Board of

Agency Function
This office has been superceded by the Board of Health, as reconstituted under the City-County Consolidation Act of 1854.

Agency History
Under an Act of April 22, 1794, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania authorized the establishment of a quarantine station for the Port of Philadelphia, a Health Office, and a public hospital for contagious diseases, all under the control of twenty-four "Inspectors of the Health Office," fourteen of whom were chosen by the city of Philadelphia and five each by the District of Southwark and the Northern Liberties (Section 18 of this act refers to a number of other Acts, passed 1770-1774, intended to provide protection against the introduction of contagious diseases through the port.) By an Act of April 1, 1803 these properties and functions were assigned to the then-established Board of Health, a body incorporated independently of the City and County. Its five members, three from the City and one each from the Districts of Southwark and the Northern Liberties, were appointed by the Governor to one year terms. No more than two of the members could be physicians. This Act also empowered the Board to remove all nuisances prejudicial to public health and provided that a tax might be levied to support its functions in the City, Southwark, the Northern Liberties and the Township of Moyamensing, all of whose citizens were eligible for admission to the hospital.

An Act of March 25, 1813 limited members' terms to three successive years. An Act of March 13, 1817 increased the membership to eleven, six of whom were elected by the Select and Common Councils of the City, three of whom were elected by the Commissioners of Northern Liberties Township and the Commissioners of Spring Garden, and two of whom were elected by the Commissioners of Southwark and Moyamensing, with no term limitations. By mutual agreement the Commissioners of Northern Liberties and Spring Garden agreed that two members would be elected by the Commissioners of Northern Liberties Township and one member would be elected by the Commissioners of Spring Garden. An Act of January 29, 1818 changed the membership to six members from Philadelphia, two from Northern Liberties District, one from Penn Township (chosen by the Commissioners of Spring Garden), one from Southwark and one from Moyamensing. An Act of March 6, 1820 added one member from Kensington, and an Act of April 30, 1844 added one additional member each from Kensington, Spring Garden and Southwark. An Act of February, 17, 1847 added Penn District to the Board's jurisdiction. An Act of February 3, 1848 added one member each from Penn District and Richmond. An Act of April 5, 1849 staggered terms of three years, six members for one year (two from the City and four from the districts and townships), six for two years (two from the City and four from the districts and townships and five for three years (two from the City and three from the districts and townships). An Act of April 5, 1849 added a member from West Philadelphia. An Act of March 25, 1850 provided that the term of the member from West Philadelphia would end in 1852.

The City-County Consolidation Act of 1854 vested the Board's estate in the City under the control of City Councils and directed that the voters of each ward elect one citizen to sit upon the Board. Some confusion concerning the City's Authority over the Board was resolved by an Act of March 16, 1855 which clearly designated it a normal branch of City government.

Archival Records
37.1 Minutes (1795-1854)

37.2 Papers (1809-1854)

37.3 Letter Book (1820-1836)

37.4 Public Notices (1802-1807)

37.5 Reports and Publications (1848-1854)

37.6 Treasurer's Ledger (1796-1817)

37.7 Treasurer's Miscellaneous Receipt Book (1800-1854)

37.8 Treasurer's Journal (1824-1854)

37.9 Memorandum Debts Ledger (1832-1845)

37.10 Bill Book (1849-1854)

37.11 Accounts, Lazaretto Hospital (1794-1800)

37.12 Journal, Lazaretto and City Hospital (1798-1804)

37.13 Accounts, Lazaretto Steward (1794-1801)

37.14 Day Book, Lazaretto and Lazaretto Hospital (1798-1801)

37.15 Inventories of Goods and Chattels, Lazaretto (1803-1854, (missing 1846-1854))

37.16 Birth Total Returns (1839-1854)

37.17 Register, City Hospital (1840-1854)

37.18 Interments, Blockley, Francisville & Cherry Hill Burial Grounds (1819-1836)

37.19 Cemetery Returns (1803-1854, missing 1836)

37.20 Vessels, Foreign Ports Register (1825-1848)

37.21 Vessels, Coastwise Register (1809-1824)

37.22 Rain Gauge Accounts (1819-1838)

37.23 Privy Well Measurer's Book (1852-1854)

37.24 Laws Relating to the Board of Health, and Rules and Regulations Adopted by the Board (1848, 1858)

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Last updated on November 8, 2000