IDPH 125th


Morgan County established the first full-time county health department in May 1922, with Dr. R.V. Brokaw at its head.

Dr. Isaac D. Rawlings, state public health director during the 1920s, was a strong proponent of establishing county health departments throughout the state. He started his campaign in Jacksonville, where he once resided. His plan for creating a health department that would serve both the city and the county persuaded local officials to establish the first full-time county health department in Illinois.

The new health department started with five employees (a field director, a city health officer, a vital statistics registrar, a nurse and a secretary) and a budget of $10,000, which came from several sources: the Rockefeller Foundation, the state, Morgan County and the city of Jacksonville. In an effort to meet individual and community health needs for the entire county, the department focused on public health education, communicable disease control, child hygiene and sanitation.

One of the first problems taken on by the Morgan County Health Department was milk safety. When the department was formed, no pasteurized milk was sold in the city of Jacksonville. To address the situation, the health officer promoted the formation of a new dairy plant. The new company moved into an abandoned plant and installed modern equipment. The company began distributing 150 gallons of pasteurized milk a day. Upon the recommendation of the health officer, the city school board voted to use nothing but pasteurized milk in the school system’s cafeterias.

Dr. Rawlings used the experience in Morgan County to convince other counties and the General Assembly of the need for local health departments.

Today, all but four Illinois counties are served by a local health department.

... Years Ago in Public Health

A Timeline of the Illinois Department of Public Health

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