Texas Department of Health:
An Inventory of Board of Health Meeting Files at the Texas State Archives, 1946-2004
Until it was abolished in 2004 and absorbed into the Texas Department of State Health Services, the Texas Department of Health was the latest successor in a line of health-related state agencies: the Texas Quarantine Department (1879-1903), the Texas Department of Public Health and Vital Statistics (1903-1909), the Texas State Department of Health (1909-1975), the Texas Department of Health Resources (1975-1977), and the Texas Department of Health (1977-2004). The powers and duties of the department evolved, especially in the 20th century, from the initial concern with the isolation and prevention of epidemic diseases (such as cholera, smallpox, and typhoid fever), to maintaining birth and death records, assuring the safety and purity of food and water supplies, providing limited kinds of medical and dental care for the poor, matching federal funds for hospital construction and renovation, overall planning of all health facilities and services in the state, etc. The department became the State of Texas' primary agency for public health planning, services, and regulation.
The composition and number of members of the policymaking board of the department has changed over the years, although these members have always been appointed by the governor with concurrence of the senate. Beginning in 1909 (Senate Bill 8, 31st Texas Legislature, 1st Called Session), the State Board of Health was composed of seven members, all licensed physicians, serving two-year terms. The number was reduced in 1927, to six licensed physicians, serving staggered six-year terms (Senate Bill 47, 40th Legislature, 1st Called Session). In 1931 (House Bill 453, 42nd Legislature, Regular Session), the number was raised to nine: six licensed physicians, one licensed dentist, one licensed pharmacist, and one licensed civil engineer specializing in sanitary engineering.
In 1975 the Texas Board of Health Resources was created (House Bill 2164, 64th Legislature, Regular Session), composed of eighteen members (sixteen licensed health professionals and two citizen members). The sixteen professionals included six licensed physicians, two hospital administrators, one licensed dentist, one registered nurse licensed to practice professional nursing, one licensed veterinarian, one licensed pharmacist, one licensed nursing home administrator, one licensed optometrist, one licensed civil engineer specializing in sanitary engineering, and one licensed doctor of chiropractic. The sixteen professional and licensed members must have had at least five years of professional experience in Texas prior to appointment. The two citizen members must have none of the qualifications required of the other sixteen members. In 1977 (Senate Bill 894, 65th Legislature, Regular Session), the name changed to the Texas Board of Health, but the composition of the board remained the same, until 1993. At that time (House Bill 1510, 73rd Legislature, Regular Session), the board was reduced to six members: four with a demonstrated interest in the services provided by the Texas Department of Health, and two representing the public. An additional public member was added in 2003 (Senate Bill 287, 78th Legislature, Regular Session), raising the number to seven for the last year of the board's existence. The Board of Health had general supervision and control of all matters pertaining to the health of the citizens of Texas. The Board was responsible for the adoption of policies and rules, and for the government of the Department of Health. Every two years the Board elected by majority vote a Commissioner of Health to be the administrative head of the Department of Health and who was given specific duties and powers relating to management. The commissioner had to be licensed to practice medicine in Texas.
House Bill 2292 (78th Legislature, Regular Session, 2003) merged twelve state health and human services agencies into five, officially abolishing the Texas Department of Health (effective September 1, 2004) and creating the new Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS). DSHS took over all of the "powers, duties, functions, programs, and activities" of the Department of Health. (In addition it assumed the duties of the Texas Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse, the Texas Health Care Information Council, and the mental health and state hospital operations formerly under the Texas Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation.) The governing body is the DSHS Council, composed of nine members of the public appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of the state senate. These nine members, representing all geographic areas of the state and reflecting the ethnic diversity of the state, "must have demonstrated an interest in and knowledge of problems and available services related to public health, mental health, or substance abuse." They serve staggered six-year terms.
(Sources include: Guide to Texas State Agencies, 11th edition (2001); the website for DSHS (http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/), accessed August 2006; and the enabling legislation (1903, 1909, 1913, 1927, 1931, 1975, 1977, 1979, 1983, 1985, 1989, 1993, 2003).)
These meeting files document the work of the Texas Board of Health and its predecessors, which had general supervision and control of all matters pertaining to the health of the citizens of Texas and was the policymaking body for the Texas Department of Health, the primary agency for state public health planning, services, and regulation. These records consist of copies of minutes, agenda, and supporting documentation from meetings of the Texas Board of Health and its predecessors (Texas State Board of Health and Texas Board of Health Resources) between 1946 and 2004. Other types of records (i.e., supporting documentation) include statements by board members, commissioner's reports, orders, resolutions, correspondence, cover letters to board members, press releases and reference materials. Minutes include printed and typescript copies and sometimes handwritten transcripts recorded by a secretary. Most of the correspondence is between board members and the Department of Health but there is some correspondence with other state agencies and with federal agencies, charity organizations, and health-related research groups. In the 1970s, packets of reference materials were prepared for the meetings and the board members by staff from the Department of Health. These reference materials were arranged by agenda item and copies were placed in the meeting file. Types of reference materials include reports from various divisions in the Department of Health, memos, budget preparation sheets, audit reports, health regulation publications, copies of safety/health standards, proposed legislation, reprints of magazine articles, health-related brochures, and newsletters. Much of the reference material is related to the federally funded Hill-Burton program for hospital construction and includes lists of Hill-Burton applicants, construction worksheets, and cost summaries.
Records are missing from these meeting files for 1909-1945, most of 1999, and the early part of 2001.
To prepare this inventory, the described materials were cursorily reviewed to delineate series, to confirm the accuracy of contents lists, to provide an estimate of dates covered, and to determine record types.
Restrictions on Access
Materials do not circulate, but may be used in the State Archives search room. Materials will be retrieved from and returned to storage areas by staff members.
Restrictions on Use
Most records created by Texas state agencies are not copyrighted and may be freely used in any way. State records also include materials received by, not created by, state agencies. Copyright remains with the creator. The researcher is responsible for complying with U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17 U.S.C.).
(Identify the item), Texas Board of Health meeting files. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.
Accession numbers: 1990/172, 1998/144, 2000/166, 2001/010, 2002/193, 2003/067, 2004/221, 2006/365, 2006/393, 2009/088
These records were transferred to the Archives and Information Services Division of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission by the Texas Department of Health on July 5, 1990; June 8, 1998; July 3, 2000; September 28, 2000; and October 21, 2002; by the Texas Department of State Health Services on April 28, 2006; and January 20, 2009; and by the Texas Legislative Reference Library on August 13, 2002; August 18, 2004; and August 22, 2006.
Original processing and first finding aid by Paul B. Beck, January 1991
Corrections and further encoding to TARO Project standards by Laura K. Saegert, May 2001
Finding aid converted from EAD 1.0 to 2002 by v1to02.xsl (20030505), July 2003
Eight accessions added, corrections and further encoding to DACS standards by Tony Black, August 2006
One accession added, and further corrections by Tony Black, January 2009
The record copy of minutes and agenda were maintained by the Texas Department of Health. They are now with the Texas Department of State Health Services.
Detailed Description of the Records