Summary Report of the Board

To His Excellency, Richard J. Oglesby, Governor:

Sir: - Owing to want of space, a portion of the material prepared for this report has been omitted, only such matter being inserted as seemed most important.

Everything has been done to promote the sanitary interests of the State this year. Especial attention is called to that portion of the report pertaining to the public health, which sets forth the history of the introduction of cholera into this country in the autumn of this year, the correspondence and action of the Board in regard to prevention of its introduction into Illinois. The changes made by amendment of the act to Regulate the Practice of Medicine, which went into effect July 1, 1887, involved much labor.

It is not too much to say that had no other results been accomplished, by enforcing one of the provisions of the law, than that of putting an end to the itinerant practicing and vending of medicine, with free tooth-pulling, minstrel, Indian show and other accompaniments, great benefit has been rendered the people of the State. Thousands of dollars had been annually fleeced from the confiding public before the law went into effect. In eighteen months after the law went into operation, $21,000 in license fees were refused by the Board as a matter of principle, it being deemed prejudicial to the public welfare to allow such practices.

The contingent appropriation of $40,000, to be used in the event of outbreak, or threatened outbreak of any epidemic disease, and for sanitary investigations, has been left untouched, and lapsed into the treasury Oct 1st.

The chief feature of this report is the Register of Physicians and Midwives.  It will show the extent and influence of the work of the Board upon higher medical education – a direct benefit to the people of the State – and its effect upon the profession in requiring better qualifications for practice. This report had to be entirely rewritten, owing to the delay of two years in printing; and it is not too much to claim that no State or country has issued a register of like character as complete in detail as this one.

Briefly presenting a comparison between the statistics of the first Register and those of the present volume, it will be seen that there were in the State, when the law regulating the practice of medicine went into effect, July 1, 1877, about 7,400 who called themselves doctors, of whom 3,600 were graduates and licentiates, and 3,800 non-graduates, or those who had nothing to show entitling them to practice medicine. On January 1, 1890, there were 6,215 engaged in practice in this State, of whom there were 5, 640 graduates and licentiates, and only 575 non-graduates. There has been a decrease in the number of medical men in about two-thirds of the counties of the State, but there is a marked increase in Cook county. A similar improvement is apparent in the status of midwives. There were 1,125 midwives practicing in the State when the law went into effect. The number of licensed midwives practicing at the present time in the State is 731, of whom 292 have licenses based upon years of practice; 145 upon examination of the Board; and 294 as graduates, upon certificates from schools of midwifery or examing boards.

In 1880 the total number of licenses midwives was 757, but the number then holding licenses issued upon years of practice was 568; there were only 58 who had licenses of examination, and 131 who were graduates from schools of midwifery or examining boards. The State of Illinois is the only one in the Union which exercises supervision over midwives.

That portion of the report relating to the Illinois Army Medical Examining Board shows the first practical effort towards regulating the practice of medicine had been passed in 1817, and again in 1824.

If this Roster of Surgeons and Assistant Surgeons had been prepared at the close of the war, a great deal of trouble, and many cases of hardship and injustice would have been prevented. This report is mainly a contribution to the medical history of the State.

Respectfully submitted,

W. A. Haskell
Wm. R. Mackenzie
Geo. N. Kreider
H. V. Ferrell
Newton Bateman
R. Ludlam
A. L. Clark
John H. Rauch

Source:  Tenth Annual Report of the State Board of Health of Illinois, Springfield, Illinois, 1890.  Book obtainable through lending libraries from the University of Illinois Library.

This page was compiled by Dorothy Falk.

Last modified: 07 October 2011