Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Alan I. Marcus


This dissertation reveals just how public health professionals and their successors perceived themselves between 1915 and 1940, how they conceived of their expertise, and what they proposed to do with it. By examining their own conclusions about the way things work or, alternately, do not work, the outlines of an entirely new way of practicing public health appear, described at the time as "community health." I wish to explore the process of invention and reinvention as it developed in the minds of the public health elite---those who by addressing particular problems in professional journals and books shaped the debate---and in the hands of those who implemented and lived with their decisions. This is not so much a dissertation revealing how public health professionals acted upon their professional debates. Rather, it emphasizes the debates themselves. It is essentially an intellectual history of the re-professionalization of public health;The crystallization of community health as a unique field, sometimes called the "new public health," delimited a period in which the model of sanitary science and state medicine bore refinements and new ideological injections. These refinements and injections, taken together, took the professions of community health in new directions while preserving much of the usable knowledge and applications wrung from the older model for expertise, a model determined to objectively identify a crying social need, initiate the process of self-identification, standardize new knowledge, create an organization with restrictive membership requirements, found journals, and establish university departments and laboratories where ideas might be transferred from professionals to naifs. Community health gathered together the strengths of specialized scientific experts and educated laypeople, arranging them into a whole stronger than any individual. Community health thus represented at the same time one profession and many professions acting (ideally) in concert. Thus, this project concentrates on the many parts---public health nursing, child hygiene, industrial hygiene, mental hygiene, popular health education, philanthropic effort in health demonstrations, familial epidemiology---as well as their shared ideas. Community health professionals did not discard the principles and practices of previous decades wholesale, but rather transformed them.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Philip L. Frana



Proquest ID


File Format


File Size

505 pages