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Dr. F. A. CASTLE,
FOR THE USE OF
BOARDS OF HEALTH
STATUTES RELATING TO THE PUBLIC HEALTH
DECISIONS OF THE SUPREME COURT OF MASSACHUSETTS
RELATING TO THE SAME.
PREPARED BY DIRECTION OF THE
STATE BOARD OF HEALTH.
18 Post OFFICE SQUARE.
I 84 A
This Manual of the Statutes of Massachusetts relative to Public Health has been prepared at the direction of the State Board of Health, for the use of local boards and for'all persons directly interested in questions which pertain to public health.
The former Manual, prepared in 1882 by Geo. F. Piper, Esq., followed quite closely through the first ninety-six sections the numbering employed in the Public Statutes. In consequence of the introduction of many new statutes, enacted since 1882, and the repeal of others, such numbering is necessarily abandoned in the present Manual, while the general order of subjects is preserved as closely as possible. A slight change has been made in the order of sections under the title of infectious diseases, hospitals, etc.
The marginal notes contain the references to the chapters and sections of the Public Statutes, and also to such health laws as have been enacted since 1882.
The dates in heavier type opposite a few of the sections are the years in which those statutes, or laws essentially the same, were first enacted.
The State Registration of Vital Statistics appears to have had its origin in the following act passed in 1639:
“Item, that there be records kept
of the days of every marriage, birth, and death of every person within this jurisdiction.” — Colony Laws, Chap. III., 1639. .
The next act having any direct sanitary bearing was the following:
Chapter 23 of the Acts of the General Assembly of Massachusetts Bay (1692–1693). Second session.
An Act for prevention of Common Nusances arising by Slaughterhouses, still-houses, &c., tallow-chandlers and curriers.
Be it enacted by the Governour, Council, and Representatives convrned in General Court, or Assembly, and by the Authority of the same.
(Sect. 1.) That the Selectmen of the towns of Boston, Salem, and Charlestown respectively, or other market towns in the province, with two or more justices of the peace dwelling in the town, or two of the next justices in the county, shall at or before the last day of March, 1693, assign some certain places in each of said towns (where it may be least offensive,) for the erecting or setting up slaughterhouses for the killing of all meat, still-houses, and houses for trying of tallow, and currying of leather (which houses may be erected of timber, the laws referring to building with brick or stone notwithstanding) and shall cause an entry to be made in the town-book of what places shall be by them so assigned, and make known the same by posting it up in some publick places of the town; at which houses and places respectively, and no other, all butchers and slaughter-men, distillers, chandlers, and curriers shall exercise and practise their respective trades and mysteries ; on pain that any butcher or slaughter-man transgressing of this act by killing of meat in any other place, for every conviction thereof before one or more justices of the peace, shall forfeit and pay the sum of twenty shillings, and any distiller, chandler or currier offending against this act, for every conviction thereof before their majesties' justices at the general sessions of the peace for the county, shall forfeit and pay the sum of five pounds; one-third part of said forfeitures to be to the use of their majestics for the support of the government of the province, and the incident charges thereof, one-third to the poor of the town where such offence shall be committed, and the other third to him or them that shall inform and sue for the same.
The second section of this act provided for the prevention of cruelty to animals, except the following final clause :
“All veal or other meat exposed to sale, that shall be blown up or winded, shall be alike forfeited and disposed of. (Passed Oct. 25, 1692.) — Province Luws.
A later act of 1696 provided that such establishments erected in places not thus assigned might be taken down.
A further amendment (June, 1710) provided that when any house or place assigned became "a nusance by reason of offensive and ill stenches,” it should be lawful for the court to suppress the same.
An early quarantine act (July, 1699) provided that vessels having on board persons "visited with the small-pox, or any other contagious sickness,” or coming from ports where such “ sickness is epidemical and prevailing," were not to sail " above the castle or fort, where any such is."
Two years later another act provided that
- The selectmen should provide a separate place for persons visited, or that late before have been visited with the plague, small-pox, pestilential or malignant feaver.” — June, 1701.
Laws relative to sewerage and drainage were enacted as follows:
Appointing commissioners of sewers, 1702; amended in 1745.
Regulating drains and common shores, 1709; amended in 1763.
An act of 1776 provided for the establishment of inoculating hospitals for small-pox. This act was amended in the following year.
No hospital for such purposes to be established within one hundred rods of any dwelling.
By an act of 1793 inoculation was forbidden except at hospitals established for that purpose.
The act providing for the display of red flags and signals dates also from 1792.
The act requiring the bouseholder to give notice of contagious disease also dates from 1792.