The Department of Health was created in 1905 to replace the State Board of Health and Vital Statistics that had been established in 1885. Charged with the responsibility of protecting the health of the citizens of the Commonwealth, the Department of Health enforces statutes and regulations pertaining to public health matters, works to insure the prevention and suppression of disease, and ensures the accessibility of high quality health care at a reasonable cost. The department provides the leadership and assistance necessary to plan, coordinate, and support a total statewide public health effort. The Department of Health operates numerous state health centers that serve as the primary public health service units within the counties.

The department’s bureaus and programs deal with control and prevention of cancer, diabetes, HIV/AIDS and various communicable diseases. The department also conducts laboratory research, maintains files of health statistics, and conducts preventative and educational health programs for mothers, children and communities. It is responsible for state health care policy, quality assurance and financing, administering drug and alcohol abuse programs, Vietnam Veterans’ health initiatives, and regulating the manufacture and distribution of drugs, medical devices, and cosmetics. {PATIENT RECORDS ARE RESTRICTED}


Elizabethtown Hospital for Children and Youth

Patient Registers, 1929-1977. (2 volumes) Arranged chronologically by date of admittance. Each register entry provides serial and unit number, name of patient, county, dates admitted and discharged, total number of days in the hospital, birthplace, date of birth, color, sex, religion, parent or guardian, and admitting diagnosis. Occasionally the parent’s occupation is stated and after the year the diagnosis appears as well. Common diagnoses include scoliosis, clubfoot, cerebral palsy, and polio. {THESE RECORDS ARE RESTRICTED}

Record of Operations, 1941-1975. (4 volumes) Arranged chronologically by date of operation. Each entry provides the case number, operation date, patient name, age, sex, color, diagnosis, operator, operation performed, name of the assistant, name of the operating nurse, name of the anesthetist, the anesthetic employed, any complications that may have occurred, and results of the operation. Notes on complications and results also usually give the times the operation started and ended. (These records are restricted.)


Coal Workers’ Respiratory Disease Program Medical Evaluation Files, 1976-1980. (29 cartons) Arranged chronologically by processing date of each batch. Black lung medical evaluation forms document the Department of Health’s program to conduct a survey of coal mining related health problems in Pennsylvania. Information furnished includes the patient’s number, a county residence code, and the date the survey was completed; the patient’s date of birth, race, and whether the patient was a minor; the nature of the visit to the clinic (respiratory examinations or treatments), the patient’s functional level, the referral code; and information on black lung benefits, health insurance coverage, and pension benefits. Also included is information on the patient’s background that might be related to the patient’s symptoms such as a history of smoking, occupations, blood pressure, pulse rate, respiratory rate, tuberculin reaction, influenza vaccine status, laboratory test results, heart and lung physical examination results, hemoglobin laboratory test results, pulmonary function studies, and results of arterial blood gas analysis. Finally, a treatment history relating to medication, respiratory therapy, oxygen therapy, physical therapy, counseling given to discourage smoking, referrals made for treatment, and other diseases noticed during the examination are also noted. (These records are restricted.)


Photograph File, 1944-1978. (15 cartons, 46 boxes, 2 volumes, 29 file drawers) Partially indexed internally, alphabetically by topic. The first volume of the subject index, covering the period 1964-1970, is divided into the following subject categories: administration, deputy secretaries, executive office, air pollution controls, housing and environmental control, sanitary engineering, special health services, educational activities, field services, nursing programs and resources, planning, evaluation, research, retirement awards, building, conferences, copies, exhibits, miscellaneous, portraits, and scenic. Information recorded for each entry in the index includes the subject category code, photograph description, date, location, and photograph number(s). Items relating to African Americans include photographs of poor living conditions in the migrant labor camps in Chester County.


Photographs, 1908, 1957-1962. (5 volumes, 7 folders) African Americans are to be found among the subjects of photographs of people and exhibits at the 8th Annual Health Conference, August 1959.


State HIV Planning Council Minutes, 1991-1993. (1 carton) Arranged chronologically by date of meeting. The State HIV Planning Council was created by a federal act in 1990 to address the problems created by the spread of the Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV). The act was effective as of 1991 and the council held its first meeting in August 1991. The primary goals of the HIV Planning Council were to advise the Departments of Health and Public Welfare on issues related to the HIV epidemic and make recommendations about the Commonwealth’s response. It also sought to identify critical needs and issues that needed to be addressed at the state level and to monitor the implementation of the Department of Health’s regional planning strategy. In addition, the council also sought to provide a mechanism for information sharing and networking among various coalitions and, where appropriate, for joint responses to issues. The HIV Planning Council was disbanded in 1996.

Meetings held by the HIV Planning Council dealt with issues such as the role of the Bureau of HIV/AIDS in funding, testing, and immigration. They also addressed the issues of racial and ethnic representation, state legislation relative to HIV health issues, the budget, and the compilation of HIV and AIDS statistics in the state of Pennsylvania.


Migrant Health Program Patient Files, 1963-1988. (53 cartons) Arranged alphabetically by patient’s name and thereunder chronologically by date of health registration sheet. Records contain a registration sheet required for treatment under this program. Medical records prepared on each visit show name of patient, home address, local or camp address, race, date of visit, and date of birth. Some records contain additional information such as patient’s occupation and the names of parents, dependents, and next of kin, and of patient’s employer. (These records are restricted.)


Sanitary Engineers’ Epidemic Reports, 1904-1919. (4 boxes) The reports are organized alphabetically by county, thereunder by community, and finally chronologically by the date of investigation. Etiologies are prepared by staff from the Health Department’s Bureau of Sanitary Engineering to explain why outbreaks of disease occurred in communities throughout Pennsylvania. The reports usually start with a brief history in which the population, economy, geography, environment, and social and cultural features of the municipality are described. This local history is followed by a narrative description and a statistical analysis of the problem, a discussion of possible improvements that could serve as a remedy and a series of recommendations for improving health conditions. As part of the report’s content, information concerning residents who became ill or died were reported, including in some cases their names, places of residence, ages, and activities prior to the epidemic. A typical example is the East Fallowfield Sanitary Engineer Epidemic Report of 1917 which discusses typhoid fever on the farms of two African Americans, William Jones and Samuel Ruth, of East Fallowfield Township, Chester County. In addition to a large number of children in each family, there were several boarders at the home of Samuel Ruth. It is interesting to note that Ida Jones, a member of William Jones’s family, became a noted Pennsylvania artist.


Records of the Genetic Disease Program, 1981-1982. (8 cartons) Arranged numerically by genetic disease program center number and thereunder by patient number. Genetic counseling forms include the following details: patient background, referral information, records of services provided, amniocentesis data, counseling site/type and number, and the disposition of the case. General data provided include the date, name of the center and the patient, the counselor number, whether the patient was a child or an adult, gender, date of birth, race, residence, income level, marital status, and pregnancy history. For children, forms include such parental information as dates of birth, parents’ educational level, parents’ occupations, and whether the parents were genetically related to one another and the specific nature of any such relationship. Adult patients’ data include educational levels and occupations of both patient and spouse, dates of birth for both, whether patient or family was receiving services from any other department or health program, the source of the referral, and the diagnosis. (These records are restricted.)


Cadaver Receiving Books, 1901-1908, 1916-1925, 1942-1965. (4 volumes) Arranged chronologically by delivery date with some books having monthly groupings by areas (such as Philadelphia and Pittsburgh). A record of bodies received by the Anatomical Board of the state of Pennsylvania (now the Human Gifts Registry) and distributed to medical and dental schools in the state for teaching purposes. Entries in the books give the name, sex, color, age, nativity, marital status, and occupation of the deceased; the date and cause of death; the date the body was delivered and the tag number; the attending physician’s name; dates of treatment; the name of the institution that provided the cadaver, the name of the school receiving it; and the condition of the body.

Consolidated Annual Report Books of Receipts and Distributions, 1895-1974. (4 volumes) Arranged chronologically by date of report. Statistical annual reports of cadavers received and distributed by the board. The Consolidated Report of Receipts provides a monthly account of bodies received from various hospitals, prisons, almshouses, and undertakers located in Allegheny County, Berks County, Cumberland County, Westmoreland County, York County, and the municipalities of Lancaster, Scranton, Wilkes- Barre, and Bethlehem. The Monthly Account by Categories provides the number cut and uncut, white males and white females, good and bad, claimed, substituted, buried and the totals. The Consolidated Report of Distributions provides a monthly account of cadavers distributed to the University of Pennsylvania, Jefferson Medical College, Hahnemann Medical College, Women’s Medical College, Pennsylvania College of Dental Surgery, Polyclinic College, Philadelphia School of Anatomy, Western Pennsylvania Medical College, Medico-Chirurgical College, Scranton Anatomical Society, Franklin and Marshall College, and other facilities.

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