On the Frontiers of Medicine


Jan. 31, 1907
Los Angeles

Showing once again that Los Angeles is out of touch with Sacramento, local health officials are fighting an education bill that would lift mandatory smallpox vaccinations for schoolchildren.

Vaccinations were opposed for several reasons in the Legislature. Assemblyman Sackett said the law unfairly placed the burden of enforcement on schools. Assemblyman Percival, a Christian Scientist, apparently objected to the measure on religious grounds. Other opponents said the only reason health officials supported the shots is to protect their jobs.

“People do not realize what the repeal of the compulsory vaccination law would mean,â€Â says health officer Dr. Powers. “If that law were not in force here we should need five health officers in place of one.â€Â

“Those who question the efficacy of vaccination would do well to look over the records of the local health office and compare the amount of contagious disease 15 years ago with what exists today,â€Â Powers says. “Our population is five times as great as it was then but there has been no increase in smallpox. To repeal the compulsory vaccination law means to invite a scourge of smallpox to come north from below the Mexican border and sweep the state.â€Â

The Times notes that Powers and his aides are watching trains and hotels for visitors from Chicago, which has been suffering epidemics of diphtheria and scarlet fever. The anti-vaccination bill was defeated in February 1907.

Read more about smallpox in Los Angeles here.

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An Unfortunate Loophole

Jan. 18, 1907
San Francisco

In what is surely an embarrassing and awkward oversight, the California Constitution only prevents “Mongolianâ€Â children from attending white public schools when separate campuses have been created. The problem, legislators have discovered, is that the Japanese aren’t Mongolians and feel they somehow have the right to go to school with everyone else.

The case before the Legislature and San Francisco officials involves 10-year-old Keikeiki Aoki, who has been barred from the Redding public schools by Principal Mary A. Deane. In a unanimous ruling, the California Supreme Court has issued a writ ordering Deane to show cause as to why she should not admit Keikeiki to school.

Deane has responded that “she was acting under the law of the state and in pursuance of a resolution passed by the Board of Education that Japanese pupils cannot attend any public school except the Oriental school for Mongolians and Indians,â€Â The Times says.

In an attempt to resolve the impasse, San Francisco City Atty. Burke is rushing to Sacramento to urge the Legislature to pass an amendment to the state Constitution substituting the word “Asiaticâ€Â for “Mongolian.â€Â

“As the Legislature is unanimously against admitting Japanese children to the public schools, this amendment could be rushed through in a couple of days,â€Â The Times says.

The proposed wording: “And also to establish separate schools for Indian children, Japanese children, Malay children, Korean children and all children of the Mongolian race. When such separate schools are established, Indian, Chinese, Malay, Korean, Japanese and all Mongolian children must not be admitted into any other school.â€Â

Remind me again about how the past was a kinder, simpler time, please. I keep forgetting.

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E-mail: lmharnisch (AT) gmail.com