Clock Tower

Out of the Clock Tower

Hello and welcome to the Greene County Archives' blog, "Out of the Clock Tower".  Please join us as we share information on archival issues, news, special events, and highlights from our collection.

Before the archives program began in Greene County in 1996, permanent records were stored in every conceivable space, in basements, garages, and closets. Usually they were in boxes of various shapes and sizes, although seldom adequately labeled, but occasionally they were just in loose piles of books and papers. Most notable were the old records stuffed into the clock tower of the County Courthouse, where they shared their home with pigeon droppings.

Now, there is a clean, environmentally controlled, well appointed location for the county archives, where our historical records are housed in standard sized boxes on steel shelves. We have taken note of their journey in the name for our blog.

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Feb 13

Public Health during the Great Depression

Posted on February 13, 2020 at 8:10 AM by Elise Kelly

On October 28, 1929, also known as “Black Friday, “the Dow Jones Industrial Average plummeted by nearly thirteen percent. The U.S. stock market lost $30 billion in value and the United States experienced the devastating impact of the Great Depression for nearly a decade. This economic downturn significantly affected medical care and treatment. Individuals and families would often forego medical assistance and would suffer at home (See Fig.1). Unfortunately, a substantial increase in deaths from cancer, heart disease, and infections soared during this time period.

Fig. 1 Fight Tuberculosis (JPG)
Fig. 1 The Next to Go: Fight Tuberculosis (

Before 1938 when the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act was instituted, vaccines did not have to be tested or licensed. Some cases of polio were actually caused by trials of vaccines. Despite the difficulties during the Great Depression, advances were made in anesthetics and antibiotics. Under President Franklin Roosevelt’s Administration, agencies of the New Deal provided voluntary medical insurance and assistance for the disabled. Furthermore, these agencies sanctioned the enhancement of public health (including sanitation) campaigns (See Fig. 2).

Fig. 2 Public_Health_nursing (GIF)
Fig. 2 Public Health Nursing (

In 1931, the Greene County Board of Health reported that eight schools in the county had sanitary and safe water supplies and six schools had adequate lavatory facilities, including individual or paper towels. Forty-two schools were using outdoor toilets and six schools had adequate ventilation (See Fig. 3). Fortunately, as time progressed, more County schools became equipped with adequate lavatory facilities and safe water supplies. In addition, the Greene County District Board of Health distributed monthly bulletins to all teachers with suggested health and hygiene outlines.
Fig. 3Greene County Board of Health Annual Report 1931 Pg. 15 (JPG)
Fig. 3 Greene County Board of Health Annual Report, Pg. 15, 1931 (Greene County Archives)

During the Depression in 1933, a case of scarlet fever occurred in a dormitory on Antioch College’s campus. The Greene County Health Commissioner advised the Dean of the college to instruct the campus’ doctor to report the case to the Board of Health (See Fig. 4).

Fig. 4 Greene County District Board of Health Minutes Apr. 1933 (JPG)
Fig. 4 Greene County District Board of Health Minutes, April 1933 (Greene County Archives)

One way of spreading scarlet fever was to consume unregulated, raw milk. Outbreaks of diphtheria that infiltrated farm animals aided the spread illnesses like scarlet fever (See Fig. 5).

Fig. 5 Poster Regulation of the Milk Supply (JPG)
Fig. 5 FDA Regulation of the Milk Supply (

According to Greene County’s Board of Health Annual Report of 1934, milk regulation was under the guidance of the Ohio Milk Marketing Commission (See Fig. 6). Most people followed the Commission’s guidelines, but not all. According to this report, the Health Commissioner and Nurse were not instructing food and dairy handlers on personal hygiene.

Fig. 6 Greene County Combined Health Annual Report 1933 - Pg. 18 (JPG)
Fig. 6 Greene County Combined Health Annual Report, Pg. 17, 1934 (Greene County Archives)

Fortunately, children who had contracted scarlet fever, were frequently visited by the Health Commissioner and were quarantined (See Figs. 7 and 8). In October 1935, it was reported that five-hundred school children were immunized for scarlet fever by the County Health Board’s nurse. These immunizations and the annual public health fairs were important methods of controlling the spread of infectious diseases during such troublesome times.

Fig. 7 Greene County Combined Health Annual Report 1934 - Pg. 8 (JPG)
Fig. 7 Greene County Combined Health Annual Report, Pg. 8, 1934 (Greene County Archives)

Fig. 8 Greene County Combined Health Annual Report 1934 - Pg. 9 (JPG)
Fig. 8 Greene County Combined Health Annual Report, Pg. 9, 1934 (Greene County Archives)

Until Next Time!

Greene County Archives – National Library of Medicine – National Institutes of Health


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