Board of Health
Newspaper Clipping Scrapbooks at
City Archives of Philadelphia

Compiled in 1998 from original scrapbooks housed at
City Archives of Philadelphia

Most of these books are very fragile, with clippings crumbling or split, and the archivists, wisely, refused my request to photocopy them. I compiled the following selective list of clippings--relating to sewers, water pollution, water filtration, typhoid and other diseases, and anything else that caught my fancy--so I could then go to the Free Library of Philadelphia and search them out on microfilm. Unfortunately, this proved to be very tedious work, and in several cases, I was never able to find the article I'd seen in the scrapbook. I still have yet to go back to these scrapbooks and do what I should have done the first time: take notes from the articles, either longhand or with a laptop.

Listings give the date in the first line, and the newspaper name, scrapbook page number, and headline in the second line. Record Group and Box numbers have not been rechecked, and may have changed since 1998.

The History of Philadelphia's Watersheds and Sewers

Compiled by Adam Levine
Historical Consultant
Philadelphia Water Department
HomeCreek to sewerDown underarchivesmapsAdam LevineLinks

March 5, 1891 to June 1893 (most from March-June 1893)
Record Group 76.38/Box A-3823

April 3, 1893
Item, p. 41, editorial: Purify the Water

April 7, 1893
Press: Preparations against Cholera (drinking water & sewage)

April 9, 12, 16, 17 & 18, 1893
Record, editorials: "The Breeding Ground for Cholera" (p. 49); "The Approach of Cholera"; "Filter the Water" (p. 65); "The Prevention of Pollution of Our Water Supply" (p. 55); "Shall We Have Cholera?" (p. 67)

April 13, 1893
Public Ledger, p. 61: "For the City's Health: Important Action Taken by the Citizens Committee of Fifty--The Schuylkill a Public Sewer...Gigantic Task"

April 24, 1893        
Times, p. 83: "Prayer and the Cholera...Dr. McConnell Will Not Pray Against the Scourge..."

April 29, 1893
Ledger, p. 89: "Ministers Aiding...Efforts to Secure Better Sanitary Conditions... The Pulpit to be Enlisted"

April 29, 1893
Press, same as above

May 11, 1893
Press, p. 109, editorial about water: "The City's Health"

May 14, 1893
Times, p. 111, editorial: "Protecting the Water Supply"

May 18, 1893
Telegraph, p. 124, editorial: "For Clean Water"

May 20, 1893
Telegraph, editorial: "Let Everybody Clean Up"

June 1, 1893
Press, editorial re: water supply: "Cholera's Reappearance"

June 2, 1893
Ledger: "Our Water Supply...It's Relation to Public Health"

Nov. 7, 1896 to Jan. 22, 1897
Record Group 76.38/Box A-3823

Nov. 8, 1896
Inquirer: "A Filthy Alley Causes Indignation"

Nov. 10, 1896
Inquirer, editorial re: ink-colored Schuylkill water: "Did You Wash Yesterday?"
Times, editorial: "An Exhibition of Water Colors"
Press, editorial: (concludes that coal dust is black, but germs are invisible)
Press: "Dirtier than Ever"
Record, same topic
Item, same topic

Nov. 11 & 12, 1896
North American, editorial: "All Kinds of Water"; and another story

Nov. 14, 1896
Press, editorial: "Culm Water and Filtration"

Nov. 15, 1896
Times, p. 11: "Purified Sewage," letter
Filtration Jobbers Tricks," editorial

Nov. 17, 1896
Telegraph: "Looking for Cleaner Water...Filtration Schemes"

Nov. 18, 1896
Ledger: "The Committee on Water..." editorial re: filtration
"Water from the Delaware"

The following are articles or editorials re: filtration
Nov. 19, 1896: Inquirer & North American
Nov. 20, 1896: Inquirer, North American, Telegraph, Record
Nov. 21, 1896: Ledger
Nov. 22, 1896: Inquirer, Dispatch

Nov. 28, 1896
Times, p. 44: "Water from the Delaware"

Nov. 1896: Many stories about spitting as a source of contagion.

Dec. 13, 1896
Times. p. 90: "Plague of Dirt and Dust--The Agonies of Life on the Streets of Philadelphia (about dirt and dust in the city)

Dec. 22, 1896
Telegraph: River Pollution (re: City's suit vs. six polluting collieries upstream from Philadelphia on the Schuylkill)

Dec. 26, 1896
NY Herald: (Sewer gas spreads disease and should be burned)

Dec. 31, 1896
North American, editorial: Our Filthy Streets
(followed by other articles in other papers, from Jan. 1-7, 1897)

Jan. 18, 1897
Record: Sand Filtered Sewage (re: Reading, Pa.)

Jan. 2, 1897 to May 2, 1897
Record Group 76.38/Box A-3823

January 22, 1897
Call, p. 4: "Analysis of the Water" (improper aeration caused odor; filtration would have prevented it)

Jan. 23, 1897
Press, same topic as above: "West Philadelphia Water"

Jan. 24 (?), 1897
Inquirer: "Water for Sale" (Enterprising boys in W. Phila. selling spring water door to door for a nickel a gallon--Councilman at a luncheon mistakes Schuylkill water for lemonade)

Feb. 3, 1897
News, p. 25: "Cats Spread Diphtheria!" (in West Phila.)
(Indianapolis newspaper, p. 27:) "The Cat Coughed"

Feb. 22, 1897
Press: "Elimination of Cats"

Feb. 23, 1897
Press: "Diphtheretic Cat `Scare'" (story debunked)

March 5, 1897
Telegraph, small item, p. 42: "Disease Breeding Water" (resolution in favor of filtration by Board of Managers, Germantown Dispensary and Hospital)

March 12, 1897
Call: "Close Watch on Drainage"
(Other papers on other dates)
Annual report for 1896 of House Drainage Division, Bureau of health. Good quotes from Chief Hughes about sources of pollution, he especially singles out "Italians." Entire report, for this year and others, should be included in Board of Health annual reports.
        Also useful would be to look at "nuisance" lists compiled by "Chief Nuisance Inspector," also in Board of Health annual reports

March 20, 1897
Record, p. 69: "Municipal Water Supplies" (Prof. W.P. Mason of R.P.I, lectures at Franklin Institute, recommends filtration, gives "cost" of typhoid deaths)

April 2, 1897
(paper?), editorial: "Guarding Against Disease"

April 5, 1897
Inquirer, p. 107: "An Offensive Alley" (near Cumberland & Huntingdon, Howard and Waterloo) "We want sewers"...3 foot alley is a drain...stench...

April 23, 1897
Call (and other papers): "Seeds Has a Project"
(recommends use of Wissahickon Creek water)

May 3, 1897 to Aug. 15, 1897
Record Group 76.38/Box A-3823

May 4-5
Telegraph, North American, Ledger, Press, Record, Inquirer, Times
(Stories about Women's Health Convention)
        See especially May 5, North American: "Health in Cities" re: lectures by Col. Waring of NYC, Rudolf Hering on Sewerage Systems, Trautwine, Allen Hazen, etc.

May 1897: Many articles re: "War Against Spitting"

May 25, 1897
Telegraph: "Death Lurks in Gunner's Run" (overflows causing "stench") and other Board of Health news

May 26, 1897: same story, Ledger and other papers

May 27, 1897
Times, p. 28, editorial: "Tannery Pollution of Streams"

June 1,3,4 & 5
various papers, various articles
American Medical Association Convention in Philadelphia
June 16, 1897
Record: "Sand Filters Explained...An exhaustive explanation illustrated by stereopticon Prof. Erastus F. Smith"
Press: "Filtration's Merits Urged"

July 4, 1987
Item: "These, Our Lepers" (profile of the City's two lepers)

July 26, Bulletin and others: obituary for Chinese leper

July 27, 1897
Times: "Street Markets Menace Health" (re: Fourth Street markets)

Aug. 14, 1897
Inq., Times: (Re: filthy pool at 65th and Buist, caused by grading of Buist)

Aug. 16, 1897
Item: "The Neck Floods--Danger from Stagnant Water" (broken sluice) (comments of Concilman Penrose A. McClain re: problem and solution and benefits)

Aug. 15, 1897
Record: (Bath house proposed for corner Gaskill and Berlin)

July 25, 1899 to January 1900
Record Group 76.38/Box A-3823

July 29, 1899         
Press: "Victory for Pure Water--Supply Streams of the State's Rivers Must Not Be Used as Sewers"
North American, same as above
Inquirer, same as above

Aug. 18, 1899
Inquirer, p. 57: "Menace to Health--Foul Open Sewer on Tenth Street..."

Aug. 24, 1899
North American, same as above

Stories re: water filters for public schools; funding withdrawn...
Sept. 23, 1899: Telegraph
Oct. 11, 1899: Inquirer & North American
Oct. 10, 1899: Press

Oct. 3, 1899                
Inquirer, p. 85: Women's Sanitary League First Anniversary

Nov. 2-3-4 & 15-16, 1899
North American, p. 110, 111, 112, 116, 118
"`Cover the Sewer' Frankford Cries--Little Tacony Creek in its present condition is a nursery for Fever..." (Nov. 2)
"How Tacony Creek May Be Cleaned" (Nov. 3)
"Physicians Denounce Tacony Creek" (Nov. 4)
"Frankford's New Drainage Plans Seem Assured" (Nov. 15)
"Frankford Folk to Keep on Worrying...until Better Drainage is Provided..." (Nov. 16)
Nov. 10, 1899
Item, p. 116: "Little Tacony Creek--No Money for Its Drainage"

Nov. 28, 1899
Telegraph, p. 126: "Health Points from England..." (William Harvey Allen, Wharton Student, reports on trip to view sanitary facilities in England)

Jan, 4, 1900
Public Ledger: (300 cesspools empty into Schuylkill; but not true, according to Board of Health; what empties is surface drainage, not sewage...)

Nov. 1903 to Sept. 23, 1904
Record Group 81.6

This volume is in very poor condition, with many clippings chipped and crumbling and pages cracked and falling out. I found it interesting, in these clippings, to trace the evolution of a typhoid epidemic. They give a clear view of the public fear of this disease, and the press's hype of that fear.

Jan. 9, 1904
North American: "Typhoid Will Prevail Despite Filtration"
        NOTE: The North American was against filtration, as they thought the construction of filters was just another source of jobs for the cronies of those in political power.

Jan. 27, 1904
North American: "Disease-Laden Fluid Fills Water Pipes" (black water)

Feb. 4, 1904
North American: "Says Typhoid Germs Soon Die in Water"

March 3, 1904
North American: "West Philadelphia's Water Supply Still Adds to the Death List"

March 1, 1904
Telegraph: "Typhoid Outbreak Alarms Officials"

March 2, 1904
Inquirer, editorial: "Don't Risk Typhoid Fever"

March 2, 1904
Press: "44 New Typhoid Cases in a Day"

March 3, 5, 12, 1904
North American: "Typhoid..."

March 16, 1904
Inquirer: "Will Disinfect All Pesthouse Sewage"
(treatment of Municipal hospital sewage planned)

March 19, 25, 1904
Telegraph: "No Abatement in Typhoid Epidemic"
"Typhoid Still Bad"

March 30, 1904
Bulletin, small item: "Typhoid Fever's Spread"

April 2, 1904
Press: "Greater Need for Boiling Water"
Inquirer: "Record Week for Typhoid Fever"
North American: "Typhoid Makes Big Increase...Bad Water and Defective Drainage Only Causes Known."

April 6, 1904
North American: "Typhoid Germs in Schuylkill Water Make New Record"

April 8, 1904
various papers: Typhoid

April 9, 1904
Telegraph: "Typhoid Beats All Records"
North American: "Typhoid..."

April 12, 1904
Telegraph: "Typhoid defies the Use of Chemicals" (good quote from A.C. Abbott, Chief, Bureau of Health)

April 13, 1904
Inquirer: "Sterilization of Sewage Asked For" (by Trades League)
Ledger: "Typhoid War Urged by Trades League"

April 16, 1904
Ledger, North American, Telegraph: Typhoid...

April 18, 1904
Press: Typhoid...

April 22, 27, 28, 1904
Telegraph, North American: Typhoid

May 2, 3, 1904
North American: "Germs in the Filter Sand May Be Cause of Typhoid's Spread"

May (3?), 1904
Inquirer: (Quoting officials denying this accusation)

May 6, 1904
Inquirer, Press: (statement of Health Chief Abbott re: typhoid and filtration)

May 13, 14, 1904
Various typhoid articles

May 20, 1904
(typhoid [and press coverage] "abating")

May 28, 1904
Press: "Working Together for Pure Water" (electrozone not practical)

May 31, 1904
North American: "Open Sewer a Peril in 34th Ward [64th and Vine]...Dairy Cattle Drink It"

June 11, 1904
Inquirer: "Liquid Water is Held Up By Sand" (W. Phila. and filtered water)

June 21, 1904
North American: "Typhoid Charged to Brewery Drainage"

June 20, 1904
Telegraph: "Foul Odors assail..." (re: private sewers under houses)

July 1, 1904
Inquirer: "Filtered Water Lessens Typhoid"
North American: "Filters Have Checked Typhoid..."
Press: "Filtered Water Reduces Typhoid..."

July 18, 1904
Inquirer: "Filtered Water Reduces Typhoid"

July 18, 1904
Ledger: "Sewers to Prevent Typhoid"
(early discussion of sewage treatment)

Aug. 16, 1904
Press: "Filtered Water Checks Typhoid"

Aug. 23, 1904
North American: "Copper Vessels Kill Typhoid Germ in Four Hours..."
Press, same topic (also Aug. 24)

Aug. 24, 1904
Bulletin (note): (Typhoid contracted from drinking well water in W. Phila.)
Press, editorial: (Re: copper vessels and typhoid)

Aug. 25, 1904
Ledger, editorial: (re: copper vessels and typhoid)

Aug. 27, 1904
North American: "Copper Sulfate in Water" (as germ removal agent)
North American: "Typhoid Menaces 340,000 Persons as Consequence of Blocked [Sumac Street] Sewer..."
(also mentions stories "Saturday and yesterday..."; includes good sensationalistic drawing)

Aug. 31, 1904
North American: (re: Sumac Street sewer,

Aug. 30, 1904
Press, same topic

Sept. 4, 1904
Press: "Drift of Sewage Tested By Jars"
(about how sewage drift from outlets into rivers is checked)

Sept. 5, 6, 1904
Ledger: "Typhoid Germs Yield to Copper Treatment"
(good stories with good information)

Sept. 7, 8, 1904
various papers, stories on copper treatment of water...

Sept. 9, 1904
Record, editorial: "Mixed Drinks in West Philadelphia" (re: controversy over mixing of filtered and unfiltered water
at the Belmont Treatment Plant)

Sept 11, 1904
Record: "Belmont Filter Beds" (editorial on typhoid)
North American, editorial: "Mixed Water"

Sept. 22, 1904
Inquirer: "'Germ Proof Filter Impossible,' says...) Report of Franklin Institute's fall meeting.

April 1907 to December 1908
Record Group 81.6

This volume is in better condition than the other scrapbook in Record Group 81.6,
with clippings more stable and including page numbers.

April 21, 1907
North American: "Dixon Wins Builders to Hobst Bill and Sewer System"

October 23, 1907
Telegraph: (formation of Bureau of Tenement Inspection as part of Dept. of Health; can check annual reports for more details)

Oct. 25, 1907
(paper??), p. 43: (outbreak of typhoid)

June 29, 1907
North American, p. 45: "Evil Odors Keep All W. Phila. Indoors" (mentions Cedar Avenue Improvement Association and Forty-Ninth Street Station Improvement Association)

July 6, 1907
Ledger, p. 45 (also other papers): "High Officials Hunt a Dreadful Smell" (in West Phila., mayor, etc.; reporter hints reason they didn't find source of bad smell was that it was coming from inside the car they were driving)

Jan. 19, 1908
Record, cover story with photos: (Tenement conditions)--several part series?

Feb. 15, 1908
Ledger, small article, p. 88: "Typhoid Increases Except in Filtered Water Sections"

June 4, 1908
Ledger, with photo: "Evils of Slums Shown to the Mayor"

June 15, 1908
Record, with photo: "Life in the City's Crowded Spots"

Sept. 15, 1908
Press: "Sewage Disposal Next Big Problem"

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