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The Massachusetts Department of Public Health is celebrating! This year marks the department’s sesquicentennial – our 150th anniversary.  We are marking this milestone with a special anniversary logo and presentations and events throughout the year.

As part of our celebration, we plan to highlight many of our Massachusetts public health landmark achievements, including publishing the first manual of public health laws, requiring mandatory reporting of dangerous diseases, establishing the nation’s first Food and Drug Laboratory and state public health microbiology lab.

Image courtesy of the Public Health Museum in Tewksbury, MA,

Image courtesy of the Public Health Museum in Tewksbury, MA,

Throughout the year, we will draw attention to public health advances such as improvements made to treat disease and infection, the testing of air, water, and food, and prevention of injury and illness.  For example, in the early 1900s, Massachusetts was the first state in the nation to pass a School Health Law, appoint a state nutritionist and oral hygiene program, and establish a “smoke abatement districts.”

We’re proud that America’s first board of health was established in Boston by an act of the Massachusetts Legislature in 1799, with Paul Revere as president. Later, in September of 1869, the Massachusetts State Board of Health, now DPH, was established by Dr. Henry I. Bowditch, its first chairman. It later merged with what was called the “Board of Health, Lunacy, and Charity.”

These and other events in our history can be explored at the nation’s first Public Health Museum (, located on the grounds of Tewksbury Hospital in Massachusetts, about nineteen miles northwest of Boston. The Museum features artifacts and records from America’s public health history and promotes public health initiatives that address current health issues.

We hope you’ll follow our celebrations throughout the year and share our pride in marking our sesquicentennial anniversary.



Written By:

Communications Director at the Department of Public Health

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