The Healthiest City: Milwaukee and the Politics of Health Reform

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Overview

Between 1850 and the turn of the century, the population of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, exploded from 20,000 to nearly 300,000. The city's quick growth brought with it all of the problems of nineteenth-century urbanization: high death rates, infectious diseases, crowded housing, filthy streets, inadequate water supplies, and incredible stench. The Healthiest City, now available in paperback, shows how a coalition of reform supporters - including business people, clergy, women's groups, professionals, trade-union Socialists, Populists, and reform Republicans - united to demand community education and public responsibility to achieve for Milwaukee the title of "the healthiest city" by the 1930s. In her new preface, Judith Walzer Leavitt notes that the 1993 cryptosporidiosis outbreak revealed that Milwaukeeans - and Americans in general in recent years - have paid decreasing attention to the machinery that keeps our cities operating and our citizens healthy. The bill for disinvesting in public health is paid by the public in inconvenience, in illness, and even in death.

The book contains black-and-white illustrations.

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Editorial Reviews

Stanley A. Edlavitch
Professor Leavitt, the Ruth Bleier Professor of the History of Medicine and Women's Studies at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, authors this book that describes the city of Milwaukee, its health problems, and the evolution of the health department. The book illustrates the politics of health reform and the roles played by the health commissioners, politicians, volunteer groups, the press, and the general public. Chapters address smallpox, garbage, and milk as illustrative examples. The final chapters provide insights into how nineteenth century struggles led to the consolidation of a public health structure to incorporate government agencies, volunteer groups, and community leaders. This paperback is a reprinting of the 1982 hardbound edition. Between 1850 and 1900, Milwaukee grew from 20,000 to approximately 300,000 residents. This rapid population growth and the influx of immigrants (mostly German), challenged the city fathers and the populace to deal with the control of infectious diseases, inadequate supplies of clean water, garbage and waste disposal, and food control. Many of the issues regarding prejudices, inadequate knowledge, political pressures, and financing are as relevant today as they were in the 1800s. One interesting chart shows the drop in infant mortality rates from 1870 to 1930 correlated with the passage of major milk legislation. This book could be of interest to historians and public health specialists, among others. The content is thorough, interesting, and well referenced, although the format and style of the book are somewhat difficult. It is more reminiscent of a well referenced thesis than a volume for wide distribution or leisure reading.Listings of footnotes on each page detract from the book's appearance. Professor Leavitt clearly has an excellent grasp of the dynamics of public health in Milwaukee during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. If readers persevere, they will find this an informative historical review worth reading. It is an invaluable reference book.
From The Critics
Reviewer: Stanley A. Edlavitch, PhD, MA(University of Kansas School of Medicine)
Description: Professor Leavitt, the Ruth Bleier Professor of the History of Medicine and Women's Studies at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, authors this book that describes the city of Milwaukee, its health problems, and the evolution of the health department. The book illustrates the politics of health reform and the roles played by the health commissioners, politicians, volunteer groups, the press, and the general public. Chapters address smallpox, garbage, and milk as illustrative examples. The final chapters provide insights into how nineteenth century struggles led to the consolidation of a public health structure to incorporate government agencies, volunteer groups, and community leaders. This paperback is a reprinting of the 1982 hardbound edition.
Purpose: Between 1850 and 1900, Milwaukee grew from 20,000 to approximately 300,000 residents. This rapid population growth and the influx of immigrants (mostly German), challenged the city fathers and the populace to deal with the control of infectious diseases, inadequate supplies of clean water, garbage and waste disposal, and food control. Many of the issues regarding prejudices, inadequate knowledge, political pressures, and financing are as relevant today as they were in the 1800s. One interesting chart shows the drop in infant mortality rates from 1870 to 1930 correlated with the passage of major milk legislation.
Audience: This book could be of interest to historians and public health specialists, among others.
Features: The content is thorough, interesting, andwell referenced, although the format and style of the book are somewhat difficult. It is more reminiscent of a well referenced thesis than a volume for wide distribution or leisure reading. Listings of footnotes on each page detract from the book's appearance.
Assessment: Professor Leavitt clearly has an excellent grasp of the dynamics of public health in Milwaukee during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. If readers persevere, they will find this an informative historical review worth reading. It is an invaluable reference book.
Booknews
A Windows 95 compatible manual providing practical instruction in how to master the 32-bit database. The text includes example problems and solutions in queries, forms, reporting, printer output, data handling, applications, user interface, Windows API, OLE, DDE, and advanced Access topics. The CD-ROM included with the volume contains solutions, sample databases, Access 95 add-ins, shareware custom controls, demonstration OLE controls, and Microsoft bonus utilities. Includes illustrations, but lacks a bibliography. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

3 Stars from Doody
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691082981
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 5/1/1982
  • Pages: 296

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
List of Tables
Preface
Acknowledgments
Abbreviations
Introduction 3
1 Milwaukee: The City and Its Health Problems 10
2 The City Health Department 42
3 The Politics of Health Reform: Smallpox 76
4 The Politics of Health Reform: Garbage 122
5 The Politics of Health Reform: Milk 156
6 The Volunteers 190
7 The Healthiest City 214
8 The Process of Change 240
Chronological Outline of Public Health History in Milwaukee 265
Essay on the Sources 275
Index 281
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