Photographs from the Community Service Society Records, 1900-1920

Health and Hygiene > Introduction

At the turn of the twentieth century, nearly 40 percent of urban populations in America died from major infectious diseases, many of which, like tuberculosis and typhoid fever, were incubated in congested housing conditions and contaminated water and food supplies. The control of milk-borne diseases, which included tuberculosis, for example, became a particular focus of urban public health reformers, in part because of the importance of milk in the diet of “innocent children.” In 1902, COS created the Committee on the Prevention of Tuberculosis and AICP created the Bureau of Public Health and Hygiene. In addition to providing individual aid to families, both organizations attempted to prevent and cure infectious diseases through housing reform; the creation of public baths, hospitals, and summer camps; scientific studies of sanitation and nutrition; and public health education. 

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