The University of Wisconsin Press

History of Medicine / History of Science / Public Policy / Urban Studies


The Healthiest City
Milwaukee and the Politics of Health Reform
Wisconsin Edition
Judith Walzer Leavitt
With a New Preface

"A model study of its kind."Choice

Between 1850 and 1900, Milwaukee's rapid population growth also gave rise to high death rates, infectious diseases, crowded housing, filthy streets, inadequate water supplies, and incredible stench. The Healthiest City shows how a coalition of reform groups brought about community education and municipal action to achieve for Milwaukee the title of "the healthiest city" by the 1930s. This highly praised book reminds us that cutting funds and regulations for preserving public health results in inconvenience, illness, and even death.

"A major work.... Leavitt focuses on three illustrative issues—smallpox, garbage, and milk, representing the larger areas of infectious disease, sanitation, and food control."—Norman Gevitz, Journal of the American Medical Association

"Leavitt's research provides additional evidence... that improvements in sanitation, living conditions, and diet contributed more to the overall decline in mortality rates than advances in medical practice.... A solid contribution to the history of urban reform politics and public health."—Jo Ann Carrigan, Journal of American History

Judith Walzer Leavitt is professor of the history of medicine and women's studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. She is the editor of Women and Health in America and coeditor of Sickness & Health in America, both published by the University of Wisconsin Press.

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The cover of The Healthiest City is white, with red and black. A photo of a city officer appears to be posting a health notice to a building. A sick child appears in the window.

May 1996
320 pp.      5 1/2 x 8 1/2
21 b/w photos, 8 line drawings

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Paper $19.95 x
ISBN 978-0-299-15164-5
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Updated September 20, 2011

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