Lemuel Shattuck Biography (1793-1859)

public health innovator

Lemuel Shattuck was born on October 15, 1793 in Ashby, Massachusetts; he diedon January 17, 1859 in Boston. He is remembered as a public health innovator, and for his work with vital statistics. Lemuel Shattuck was the son of JohnShattuck, a farmer, and his wife Betsey. He married Clarissa Baxter in 1825;they had five children. Shattuck was almost entirely self-educated. From 1817 to 1822, he was a schoolteacher in Troy and Albany, New York, and in Detroit. From 1822 to 1833, he was a merchant in Concord, Massachusetts. He was a bookseller in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1834. From 1840 to 1850, he was a self-employed bookseller, publisher, public health writer, and statistician inBoston. Intermittently, he served as a legislator for Boston and the state ofMassachusetts.

Shattuck was one of the prime-movers of public hygiene in the United States.With his report to the Massachusetts Sanitary Commission in 1850, he accomplished for New England what such men as Chadwick, Rarr, and Simon had done forEngland. There had been in the United States few advances in public health aside from a few stray smallpox regulations until this report. Shattuck's report pointed out that much of the ill health and debility in the American citiesat that time could be traced to unsanitary conditions, and stressed the needfor local investigations and control of defects.

Shattuck was a prime mover in the adoption and expansion of public health measures at local and state levels. In 1850, he published a Sanitation Report that established a model for state boards of health in Massachusetts (1869) andother parts of the United States, including the District of Columbia (1870),California (1871), Virginia (1871), Minnesota (1872), Louisiana (1873), Alabama (1875), Georgia (1875), Maryland (1875), Colorado (1876), and Wisconsin (1876).

An early advocate of statistical surveys in mid-nineteenth century America, Shattuck helped establish the American Statistical Association (1839); in helping to reform the state vital statistics provisions for the state of Massachusetts (1840 to 1850), he established a prototype for other states. Shattuck expanded the scope of census reports in Boston (1845), and made suggestions for a federal census (1850). He was instrumental in improving and standardizingcause-of-death nomenclature (1842 to 1850) though his work on vital statistics registration in Massachusetts and through his American Medical Association(AMA) committee work. Shattuck sought improvements in genealogical records and local history sources (1830 to 1855), which fostered new interest in studies of heredity.

Shattuck also introduced measures to systemize and organize local and state government in Massachusetts.

He was the author of the following publications: History of the Town of Concord (1835); Census of Boston for the Year 1845 (1846); Report...Relating to a Sanitary Survey of the State (1850); and Memorials ofthe Descendants of William Shattuck (1855).

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