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of whom 274 were taken from parents and guardians, and suitable and comfortable homes provided for them in private families and asylums. Seventyfive persons were taken into custody for brutal treatment. In several cases young girls have voluntarily sought the protection of the society against the dishonoring greed of their parents.

- The Pennsylvania Hospital for the Insane, near Norristown, is rapidly progressing. A modification of the plan has been adopted, by which some existing farm structures shall be used temporarily as the administration building, it being expected that the wards will be ready for use and turned over to the state authorities during next summer.

– The total mortality of Philadelphia for 1878 was 15,498, a decrease of 606 as compared with 1877. Of these there were males 7751, females 7747, including 3828 boys and 3478 girls. The number of deaths of children under five years of age was 5853, and of persons over seventy years 1763. Among the principal causes of death were consumption, which is credited with 2430 ; pneumonia with 809; convulsions, 702 ; heart disease, 524 ; and croup, 373. Of the zymotic diseases scarlet fever carried off 544, diphtheria 449, and typhoid 370.

It is curious to observe that the proportion of women who live to attain the age of eighty and over is almost twice as much as in the other sex. Of the 688 valetudinarians whose deaths were announced by the Public Ledger last year the following table will give the relative number and the sex at each age :

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6 1 Of those living beyond the age of ninety years there were forty-three men and seventy women, while in ten centenarians it is seen that nine were women.

- The old Philadelphia School of Anatomy, formerly on Chant Street, so well known to earlier generations of Philadelphia medical students, has been revived under the charge of Dr. John B. Roberts, and shows considerable vitality.

CHICAGO. - Prof. W. S. Harris has recently made chemical analysis of quite a number of samples of starch from six or more American manufacturers without finding the slightest adulteration in any of them. The specimens included both starch used for food and that used for laundry purposes. He was led to make these examinations by a recent report of an English chemist to the effect that many samples of starch of English manufacture had been found extensively adulterated.

– Dr. W. T. Belfield has reported some experiment which he has just completed, bearing upon the question of the so-called nucleus of the red blood corpuscles. He has repeated Boetscher's experiments, which consist in bleaching the corpuscles with a saturated solution of corrosive sublimate in alcohol, and then staining them. The latter has claimed to find a more highly stained spot in the centre of some of the red corpuscles. Belfield has been unable to find this in human blood. Not questioning Boetscher’s results, he has doubted whether they should be taken as proof of a nucleus. The reagents used coagulate albumen and abstract water, and cause a shrinking of the corpuscles, as is shown by the micrometer. Why may not the apparent nucleus be an artificial product of the reagents? To determine this question Belfield conceived the idea of bleaching blood with other reagents, and staining with both carmine and aniline. He has experimented with sulphurous acid, acetic acid, chlorine, and a freezing temperature, - all of which bleach the red corpuscles perfectly, — and with the two staining materials. With none of them has he been able to demonstrate in human blood a more highly stained spot in the centre of a single red corpuscle, although a long series of observations has been made. He has submitted bis slides to several other microscopists, but no one has been able to see the appearance Boetscher describes. When by any of these processes turtle's blood (known to be nucleated) was examined, the nucleus appeared distinctly.

A NATIONAL BOARD OF HEALTH.

MR. Editor, - A meeting was held last week in Washington which, I

. , think, will have an important influence on the future sanitation of this country, and I have thought you may like to lay the matter before your readers.

Unfortunately, I cannot make any statement save from memory. But I shall endeavor to be accurate, and as concise as possible. It was a meeting of two committees appointed at the recent gathering of the Public Health Association at Richmond, to wit, of the executive committee and of an advisory committee of one from each State. A good representation appeared at the National Hotel, where Dr. Cabell, of the University of Virginia, president of the American Public Health Association, had called the meeting. The two committees spent most of Wednesday in informal discussion of two chief topics: First, the proper methods to be urged on Congress as to the further and more exact examination into the essential cause of yellow fever. It was evi. dent that the prevalent opinion of the committee was that we should send a scientific commission to study it at Havana, or in South America. Quarantine of some kind was considered by all speakers as necessary, but to leave the decision of that matter to one man, as proposed in the Lamar Bill, recently offered in the senate, was considered entirely improper. One curious fact was mentioned by a surgeon of the army, namely, that in the epidemic of the fever, in 1863, at Pensacola, a double line of pickets prevented all approach to the cantonments, containing about three thousand troops, and not a single case occurred among them. In this instance, the quarantine was thorough, and apparently perfectly effective. The second question, deemed of much importance, was thoroughly discussed. It was : what ought to be the composition of the future national board of health ? There were divisions of opinions,

very decided, as to whether the laity should be admitted to it. Some contended that the board should be composed of physicians only, while others were equally earnest that the plan of having a full representation of the laity, especially an engineer and lawyer, was all-important. One gentleman thought that a board consisting only of physicians would make it more certain that really scientific work would be done, and that an engineer, etc., could always be consulted, if one were wanted. To this I answered by the following very significant fact in the experience of our Massachusetts board, upon which we have always had an able civil engineer. After the Brighton Abattoir was built, the board was requested to make its official examination of the arrangements. On arriving at the upper story we found two large iron tanks for holding thousands of gallons of water. Our engineer had noticed the arrangements in the stories underneath, and immediately perceived that the columns would be too weak to support the heavy weight, which would press upon them, when the tanks were filled. On close inspection directly below one of them, we were shocked at finding that, already, the timbers were beginning to be crushed. The imperfections were so slight that it needed the scientific mind and eye of our colleague to recognize them; but, when once pointed out, they were plain to all of us. We of course directed that additional and complete supports should be given immediately, and that no water should be introduced until that was done. I stated that I had no doubt that, if our engineer had not been with us, the imperfection would not have been perceived until too late. Entire destruction of the building would have happened, and perhaps, in consequence of that loss, the great sanitary improvements, since gained in Brighton, would have been indefinitely postponed, owing to the severe loss accruing to the corporation from the mistake. It appeared that the architect had not been asked to provide for these tanks. They were anafter-thought of the butchers, who, being ignorant of mechanics, supposed it possible to put any weight they chose into the upper room. Similar arguments might have been used as to the importance of having practical business men and lawyers upon the board.

Again, two if not more plans were brought up by different individuals providing that the board should consist only of persons living in the District of Columbia.

I read the outlines of a plan, similar to that I advocated before the American Medical Association in 1876 at the Chicago meeting. It was as follows: (1) a Secretary of Health, appointed once in seven years by the president, with a salary equal to that of the other secretaries, and having a seat in the cabinet. He would be the presiding and executive officer of (2) a national board of health, to be composed somewhat as follows: the surgeon-general of the army, navy, and marine hospital service; the chief of the engineer corps, of the signal service, of the bureaus of education and of agriculture, etc.; and the attorney-general. These should have the control of sanitary matters, scientific and practical, so far as the United States has constitutional control of such matters, throughout the Union. It might be styled the National Board of Health, and be analogous in its powers and objects to state boards of health. This board would direct the secretary in his work. If, under extraordinary circumstances, he should feel compelled to take independent action, he was to be directed forthwith to call a meeting of the board and report his action. Such a board should commence quietly and simply as an advisory board, waiting for new duties to be imposed on it by Congress, and more and higher powers to be given to it, as has happened in Massachusetts. The members, being officers of government, would have no extra pay. (3.) A Health Council of the Nation, composed of one delegate from each State, to be chosen by state boards of health, or by the governors of such States as had not established by law

any

board. This council should meet on the second week of February each year, and continue in session four days, and no longer, unless under call of the president of the United States and under peculiar circumstances, during which the counsel of such a body of sanitarians might be deemed important. Each one of the delegates should be paid — dollars per diem (necessary hotel expenses), and the traveling expenses to and from Washington.

At their meetings, the secretary should preside, and present a report of his action during the year, and ask the council to consider the propositions he would lay before them.

The council would immediately submit all such propositions to several subcommittees, who would be expected to report within twenty-four hours whether any immediate action should be recommended, or a delay for a further examination by means of scientific or other experts, with ample time and means at their disposal, so that thorough work could be done.

The council should originate measures if it chose to do so. But all such should be referred to the board of health above described, which should have the right to carry out in full or in part, or to decline to act, as in its deliberate judgment it might deem best; provided, however, that if any measure or measures, originating with the secretary or with the council, be unanimously adopted by a majority of the whole council, actually present and voting, then the national board should be compelled to carry out such recommendations.

These various plans were discussed by the two bodies acting in concert, and the meeting was adjourned.

I learn that at the executive committee meeting, held immediately afterward, the last plan was approved. But it was thought best, and it was voted not to urge any definite plan upon Congress at the present time, but to propose the appointment of a "preliminary sanitary commission,” to be composed of the best men who can be found for the purpose, to be selected by the National Academy of Sciences, and their names to be sent to the president of the United States, as men most fitted for the important trust. Said commission would have two objects in view, namely: first, the thorough study of yellow fever, not only in this country, but in foreign countries, where it is indigenous, and for this our government should seek for international commissions in order more thoroughly to carry out the work. This was to be done by means of experts, and for the purposes an adequate sum would have to be appropriated by Congress. Second, it should submit a report to Congress of some plan for a national organization in reference to health.

In accordance with these views, a paper was drawn up, which is to be signed by the two committees, and to be sent to both houses of Congress.

It seems to me that an important step forward has thus been taken towards a national organization. I appeal earnestly to every member of the Massachusetts Medical Society, and others interested in sanitary matters, to sustain the committees by appeals, either personally or by letters, to the members of the house of representatives and of the senate, urging them to support the proposition for the establishment of the preliminary commission, and for an adequate appropriation. Yours respectfully,

HENRY I. BOWDITCH.

SHORT COMMUNICATIONS,

MEMORIAL OF THE AMERICAN PUBLIC HEALTH ASSOCIATION ON CON

GRESSIONAL LEGISLATION AFFECTING THE PUBLIC HEALTH.

WHEREAS the American Public Health Association, at its late meeting at Richmond, Va., provided for the appointment of a committee to advise with the executive committee with regard to matters of legislation coming before Congress, during the present session, which relate to the subject of public health; and whereas the association instructed the executive committee to exert its influence to secure such legislation as will best protect the public health of the whole country;

And whereas the executive committee, in conjunction with the advisory committee, have duly considered the various resolutions presented to the association, and the present condition of propositions for national sanitary legislation ;

Now therefore we, the undersigned, officers and members of the executive committee and of the advisory committee on legislation of the American Public Health Association, do hereby declare our opinion to be as follows:

I. That while, under ordinary circumstances, the association as a scientific body should besitate to take the initiative in urging any specific legislation, yet at the present time it is expedient to state as precisely and definitely as possible our views as to what action should and should not be taken by the present Congress with regard to the public health, seeing tbat we believe there is great danger of hasty and unsatisfactory action on this subject.

II. That in view of the great diversity of opinion among those best qualified to judge as to methods of quarantine, and especially as to the relations which should exist between national and local systems of quarantine; of the fact that we have not as yet sufficient information to enable us to formulate any system of national quarantine which might not do more harm than good; and of our belief that there are grave reasons for apprehending recurrence of yellow fever in the United States during the coming summer, from causes which are already in the country, and which, therefore, cannot be prevented by any system of quarantine, — we believe that any legislation by the present Congress with regard to a Dational quarantine, either to provide a new law or to amend or enforce the present one, will be inexpedient and unwise.

We wish, however, that it shall be distinctly understood that we are not opposed to a national quarantine system, if carefully elaborated and placed in proper connection with state and municipal sanitary organizations, but we are well satisfied that it is impossible to organize such a system at the present time.

III. That it is highly desirable that Congress shall, during the present session, provide for the proper organization of a provisional national health commission.

IV. That the objects and duties of this commission should be as follows: (A.) To report to Congress at its next session a plan for a permanent national public health organization, said plan to be prepared after consultation with state boards of health, and with all those who possess special knowledge or experience bearing on this subject. This plan should include one for a national system of quarantine. (B.) That it should take charge of any investigations into the causes and means of prevention of yellow fever or other epidemic diseases which may be referred to it by Congress, selecting experts for that purpose so far 23 may be necessary.

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