Health Administration, Statistics Sections to Celebrate 100 Years: Many Sections Gear Up for Anniversaries

By Johnson, Teddi Dineley | The Nation's Health, September 2008 | Go to article overview

Health Administration, Statistics Sections to Celebrate 100 Years: Many Sections Gear Up for Anniversaries


Johnson, Teddi Dineley, The Nation's Health


Congratulations will be in order in October when two APHA Sections celebrate 100-year anniversaries during APHA's 136th Annual Meeting in San Diego Oct. 25-29. The Health Administration Section and the Statistics Section--the first of APHA's 25 Sections to achieve the milestone--will celebrate with a range of events and activities.

The Sections have operated under various names through the years, but each traces its official beginning to APHA's 36th Annual Meeting in Winnepeg, Manitoba, in 1908.

"I'm guessing we were a twin birth," said Vonna Henry, MPH, chair of the Health Administration Section's Anniversary Committee.

According to the Annual Meeting program from that year, each Section held a meeting at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 25, 1908, at the Royal Alexander Hotel in Winnepeg, for the purpose of adopting a constitution and nominating permanent officers, said Henry, who traveled to APHA headquarters in Washington, D.C., in 2006 to dig through the Association's archives. A century's worth of Annual Meeting programs revealed a multitude of interesting historical tidbits. For example, she learned that history does indeed repeat itself.

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"The issues we are dealing with today haven't changed in 100 years," Henry said. "Some of the diseases have changed, but the issues--salaries, standards, how you recruit, how you work with boards--are issues I deal with on a day-to-day basis."

Henry also learned that the Health Administration Section began its life as the Municipal Health Officers Section and did not become the Health Administration Section until 1975. In between, the Section went by various names, including the Public Health Officials Section, the Public Health Administration Section and the Health Officers Section.

The exact dates when the name changes occurred are not clear, said Health Administration Section Chair Tricia Todd, MPH, who speculated that the Section's multiple names might reflect the growing pains of a young Section trying to define what it was and who it served.

"It probably also reflected that there might have been less protocol around name changes in APHA at that time," said Todd, who spent a day in the APHA archives in June.

The Statistics Section also began its life under a different name, starting out as the Vital Statistics Section when statistician Cressy Wilbur founded it in 1908, according to Bill Pan, DrPH, MPH, MS.

A century ago, the most important issue in statistics was vital registration, "which really falls under the realm of demography," said Pan, a member of the Section's 100-Year Anniversary Planning Committee.

"Some of the issues in 1908 were trying to get accurate numbers in terms of deaths, births, marriage and divorce statistics," Pan said. "We still struggle with that data, but in the early 1900s there wasn't much information on births and deaths, and it was very hard to get. …

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Health Administration, Statistics Sections to Celebrate 100 Years: Many Sections Gear Up for Anniversaries
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