Montana State Board Of Health, Division Of Environmental Sanitation Records, 1914-1965  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Montana Division of Environmental Sanitation
Montana State Board Of Health, Division Of Environmental Sanitation Records
1914-1965 (inclusive)
2.5 linear feet of shelf space
Collection Number
RS 113
Records of the Montana State Board of Health's Division of Environmental Sanitation, and its predecessor the Sanitary Engineering Division, consist of general correspondence (1914-1965) concerning the Cut Bank municipal water system, Three Forks wells, water treatment methods, swimming pools and other subjects; water lab reports (1942-1958); and subject files, including records of the American Water Works Association, histories of the Billings and Great Falls waterworks, and other materials.
Montana Historical Society, Research Center Archives
Montana Historical Society Research Center Archives
225 North Roberts
PO Box 201201
Helena MT
Telephone: 406-444-2681
Fax: 406-444-5297
Access Restrictions

Collection open for research.

Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Historical NoteReturn to Top

The Montana State Board of Health was established in 1901. In 1967 the Legislative Assembly created the State Department of Health. The State Board of Health continued in an advisory capacity, but the day-to-day administration of the state laws regarding public health and related matters was delegated to the new department. In 1971 the State Department of Health was abolished and replaced by a new Department of Health and Environmental Sciences. The State Board of Health continued as an advisory board, but was renamed the Board of Health and Environmental Sciences.

The Division of Water and Sewage was created in 1911. Its first director was W. M. Cobleigh. From the organization of the division until 1923, bacteriological and chemical examinations of water samples were carried on at the State Agricultural College in Bozeman. On July 1, 1923, the office and laboratory were moved to Helena and H. B. Foote became the division director. W. M. Cobleigh continued as a consultant. In the early years, work centered around installation of sewage treating plants to prevent pollution of streams, protect watersheds, and provide clean drinking water; creation of regulations governing preparation and submission of designs for sewer systems and treatment plants; and analyzing public and private water supplies. The division also analyzed water from swimming pools and reviewed heating, lighting, ventilating, and plumbing plans for new school buildings to insure a safe environment.

During the Great Depression of the 1930s, the work of the Water and Sewage Division increased markedly because of the need to examine water supplies used in Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camps and resettlement projects. Also during this period, the State Board of Health cooperated with the United States Public Health Service and the Work Projects Administration (WPA) in sponsoring the Montana Community Sanitation Program. The program was designed to eliminate insanitary devices by the construction of sanitary privies on public and private property wherever sewer systems were impracticable for any reason. On April 15, 1944, the division was renamed by the State Board of Health the Division of Sanitary Engineering because of the expansion of field work being done by the division and the development of sanitary engineering as a more clearly-defined field.

By 1944 the division was conducting field inspections of sewage disposal systems, stream pollution problems, and public swimming pools. The division also reviewed plans for public water supplies, public sewage and industrial waste disposal systems, and public swimming pools. Included in the studies of stream pollution problems was the mine and smelter wastes in the upper reaches of the Clark Fork River. The 1950-1952 biennium opened with a large number of staff vacancies, including the division director of the Sanitary Engineering Division. In May 1950 the State Board of Health and the State Board of Examiners reached a general agreement on the subject of adequate salaries for staff members of the State Board of Health. This general agreement served as the basis for initiating a department-wide reorganization.

As part of the reorganization, the Division of Sanitary Engineering and the Division of Food and Drug were combined to create a new Division of Environmental Sanitation. C. W. Brinck was appointed director of the new division on May 1, 1951. The new division was divided into three sections: water, sewage, and general sanitation. The Water Section was in charge of water supplies-- both public and private swimming pools, well drilling for public water supplies, and review of plans for waterworks, swimming pools, school buildings, and other public buildings. The Sewage Section was in charge of sewage disposal, stream pollution abatement, plan review, sewage plant systems, cesspool and septic tank cleaning, and garbage disposal. The General Sanitation Section was itself divided into two areas run by the sanitarian and by the chemist. Sanitary inspection services included inspections of restaurants, meat markets, food manufacturing, soft drink/ ice cream parlors, tourist camps, locker plants, camp sanitation, and mattress factories. The chemist was in charge of the laboratory, which conducted analyzes of water, sewage, soft drinks, meats, bakery products, canned goods, fruits for spray residue, insecticides and other poisons, drugs, and liquors.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

This collection consists of three series: General Correspondence, Laboratory Records, and Subject Files. The General Correspondence (1914-1965) concerns the Cut Bank water system, various water treatment methods, mottling of tooth enamel, swimming pools, bacterium tularence, wells at Three Forks, and the Mutual Aid Program. The Laboratory Records consist of water lab reports for various Montana cities and towns (1942-1958). Included in the Subject Files are papers of the Montana Section of the American Water Works Association (1925-1949); analysis of the use of poly-phosphate in Hardin (1941-1942); chemical logs for Miles City (1932-1933); histories of the Billings and Great Falls waterworks; a lecture by W. M. Cobleigh on "Private Water Supplies: Their Selection, Protection, and Purification" (1920); the ordinance establishing the waterworks department in Kalispell (1914); a questionnaire on artificial ice plants (1926); and a sanitation evaluation of the Missoula City-County Health Department (1952). Selected printed materials were transferred to the Library. Photographs transferred to the Photo Archives include views of waterworks plants in Billings and Great Falls, Montana.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Restrictions on Use

Researchers must use collection in accordance with the policies of the Montana Historical Society. The Society does not necessarily hold copyright to all materials in the collection. In some cases permission for use may require additional authorization from the copyright owners. For more information contact an archivist.

Preferred Citation

Item description and date. Collection Title. Collection Number. Box and Folder numbers. Montana Historical Society Research Center, Archives, Helena, Montana.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

The following section contains a detailed listing of the materials in the collection

General Correspondence Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
1 / 1-12
Cut Bank water system
1 / 13
Water treatment methods
1 / 14
Mottling of tooth enamel
1 / 15
Swimming pools
1 / 16
Bacterium tularence
1 / 17
Three Forks wells
1 / 18
Mutual Aid Program

Photographs Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
1 / 19
List of photographs transferred to the Photo Archives

Printed Materials Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
1 / 20
List of printed material transferred to the Library

Laboratory Records Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Vol. 1-2
Water lab reports, Montana cities and towns: Series K
1942 July - 1944 June
Vol. 3-4
Water lab reports, Montana cities and towns: Series L
1944 July - 1946 June
Vol. 5-6
Water lab reports, Montana cities and towns: Series M
1946 July - 1948 June
Vol. 7-8
Water lab reports, Montana cities and towns: Series N
1948 July - 1950 June
Vol. 9-10
Water lab reports, Montana cities and towns: Series O
1950 July - 1952 June
2 / 1-5
Water lab reports, Montana cities and towns: untitled

Subject Files Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
3 / 1-3
American Water Works Association, Montana Section (includes constitution, minutes, proceedings, and programs)
3 / 4
Analysis of the use of poly-phosphate, City of Hardin Water Department
3 / 5
Chemical logs, Miles City
3 / 6
"Field and office standards," Montana State Highway Commission
3 / 7
Histories of Billings and Great Falls waterworks
1925, 1939
3 / 8
Lecture, "Private Water Supplies: Their Selection, Protection, and Purification," by W.M. Cobleigh
3 / 9
Montana Sewage Works Association program
3 / 10
Montana Water Well Drillers Association program
3 / 11
"Northern Pacific Railway, specifications and general plans of Minnesota State Board of Health governing the construction and maintenance of small railroad water supplies and instructions for the submission of plans and specifications of water and sewerage systems"
3 / 12
Ordinance # 302, (re establishing Kalispell Water Works Department)
3 / 13
Questionnaire: artificial ice plants
3 / 14
"Requiring that all Public Water Works Operators and Employees submit to certain examinations to determine their fitness physically to carry on the duties of their employment," Dept. of Public Health, Division of Water and Sewage special report
3 / 15
"Sanitation Evaluation Report on the Missoula City-County Health Department"
3 / 16
School for Water Works Operators programs
1936, 1938, 1939
3 / 17
Water Works Men (minutes)

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Municipal water Supply
  • Sewage--Purification
  • Water--Purification
  • Water-Supply
  • Geographical Names :
  • Cut Bank (Mont.)--Politics and government
  • Great Falls (Mont.)
  • Hardin (Mont.)
  • Kalispell (Mont.)
  • Miles City (Mont.)
  • Missoula (Mont.)
  • Missoula County (Mont.)
  • Three Forks (Mont.)