Sanitation History

The West Virginia Association of Sanitarians wants to share an overview of the early history of the Environmental Health in the State of West Virginia dating back to 1915...  


  • 1915 - Department of Sanitary Engineering is established.
  • 1916 - Investigation of public water supplies, school sites and buildings, sewerage systems and sewage disposal plants begins.  Public water utilities are required to submit monthly bacteriological samples.
  • 1917 - Inspection of dairies, survey of diseases of school children, and examination of swimming pools begins across the state. 
  • 1921 - Law regarding new water supplies and sewage systems requires written permission from the State Health Commissioner prior to establishing any system of drainage, sewerage or water supply.
  • 1924 - The West Virginia Public Health Association is organized.
  • 1931 - West Virginia leads the nation in a rural sanitation program which includes the construction of nearly 300,000 sanitary privies during 1931-1941.
  • 1936 - The Sanitarian, the first bi-monthly newsletter of the Sanitarians Section of the West Virginia Public Health Association is printed.  Committees on Food Establishment Sanitation, Legislation, and Development of a Sanitary Inspectors Handbook are established.  Milk sanitation is the main focus of these articles.  Bureau of Industrial Hygiene established.  State Training Center established in Beckley for training of health officers, nurses, and sanitarians.
  • 1937 - The Sanitarians Section of the West Virginia Public Health Association has forty-three (43) members across the state.  The March issue of The Sanitarian is largely devoted to flood sanitation along the Ohio River Valley.  Some of the problems noted:  organization, water supplies, excreta disposal, refugee stations, condemnation and destruction of contaminated foodstuffs, food establishment inspections, and interruption of milk sanitation activities.  Rim counts on glasses and silverware in food establishments to determine effectiveness of ware washing and sanitization procedures is addressed.
  • 1939 - Milk inspection programs continue and plans for the construction of twelve new pasteurization plants are approved.  Programs for the inspection of tourist camps and service stations are also initiated.  Ventilation in schools is discussed as it relates to the spread of disease, lighting in schools is also noted to be a problem.
  • 1940 - Plans for nine modern recirculating swimming pools are approved.
  • 1942 - Regulations governing the examination of food handlers require at least two hours instruction in food handling.  West Virginia is the only state requiring compulsory training.
  • 1948 - Inspections of institutions of the state by the State Fire Marshall and local Sanitarians inaugurated as part of the hospital licensing program.
  • 1950 - A new method of preserving and shipping milk samples for delayed examination in a central laboratory results in a state-wide grading program.
  • 1955 - Over 95% of milk consumed in state is pasteurized. 

Feel free to email us if you would like to submit historical articles to be added.

Below is an archive of Sanitarian Training Class photos.  Look through for some of your fellow Sanitarians.  If you have a class photo that is not below, feel free to email a copy to us with the class year in the file name.  We will be more than happy to post it on here!