APHA Past Presidents

APHA Past Presidents

Roster of APHA Past Presidents by date and a thumb nail brief biography. Additional information and detail of important events and back stories related to APHA and illustrative of the wide diversity of APHA Presidents’ interests, the context of APHA concerns and the larger issues of Public Health of the time.



APHA Presidents’ Timeline Part 1 1872 to 1933.. as of 2020-07-08

Note more detailed biographys or supporting documentation on Past Presidents , founders, or other notables will be added as the site develops on an ongoing basis: see the History Category in the navigation drop down menu

Editing notes, need to clean up photo sizing, find missing photos , and one with no bio entry (Domingo Orvananos MD 1907)

Stephen Smith MD 1872-1874

1822-1921 The principal organizer vand a founder of APHA and first APHA President. He served three one yar terms as founding President. Along with public health and civic reformers he worked tirelessly to establish the Metropolitan Board of Health (New York City) the first Board empowered to have legal authority as well as a mandate to improve the sanitary condition of the city, pioneer the first laws on housing and safety conditions for all its residents. A prolific writer, editor, and speaker he advocated for education of both the public and professionals in the need and methods of public health science and practice ., He gained much fame in his long career including a memorable address in his 99th year before the attendees at APHA’s 50th Anniversary Meeting on h the future vision of the public health and the role for the Association of which he was the principle founder .


Joseph M. Toner MD 1875

1828 – 1896. He was an avid writer and researcher on topics in history and medicine, and his titles range from “Maternal Instinct,” “A Dictionary of Elevations and Climatic Register of the United States,” to numerous works on the military and civil career of George Washington. He endowed a lecture series at the Smithsonian Institutions, and student prizes at Georgetown University and Jefferson Medical College.

Joseph M. Toner MD

Edwin M. Snow MD 1876

1820-1888. During the cholera epidemic of 1854 he realized the relationship between disease and poor sanitation. Because of his efforts the City Council established the office of Superintendent of Health and named him to that post. Providence became one of the first cities to require smallpox vaccination for all children entering public school

Edwin M. Snow MD

John Henry Rauch MD

1828 – 1894. As Professor of Materia Medica and Medical Botany at Rush Medical College in Chicago, in 1859 he helped found the Chicago College of Pharmacy where he filled its chair of Materia Medica and Medical Botany. In 1871 he managed the health and sanitary welfare of 112,00 people made homeless by the Chicago fire.


John Henry Rauch MD

Elisha Harris MD 1878

1824 – 1884. At the outbreak of the Civil War he proposed the Sanitary Commission and worked for the sanitary welfare of the armies. In 1867 he organized the NYC Metropolitan Board of Health and a system of health boards in all the villages and cities of the state. He worked to educate the people of New York, with special attention to convicts and the poor, in life saving sanitary practices.


Elisha Harris MD


James Lawrence Cabell MD 1879

1813 – 1889. In charge of the Confederate medical hospitals in the Civil War, he was later appointed chairman of the National Sanitary Conference. He devised a plan to check the yellow fever epidemic in Memphis, TN. He served as Professor of Anatomy and Materia Medica at the University of Virginia. His student, Stephen Smith, felt that his teaching methods and his demonstration of surgical techniques made medical training at the University of Virginia the most rigorous in the country.


James Lawrence Cabell

John Shaw Billings MD 1880

1838 – 1913. He was instrumental in establishment of the Public Health Service; he modernized the collection and analysis of vital statistics by suggesting that data be recorded on a single card by punching holes in it, to be sorted by mechanical means, a suggestion which was followed by Herman Hollerith. With funds left over from army hospitals after the Civil War, he purchased and cataloged medical books and articles for a National Medical Library which became the Index Medicus. In 1896 he became librarian for the Astor-Tilden-Lenox library in New York which eventually united with forty outlying libraries to become the New York City Library system for which he organized the staff, increased the hours and departments, added a circulation department and devised a uniform system of cataloging

John Shaw Billings MD

Charles B. White MD 1881

1826 – 1882. President of the Board of Health of New Orleans. He wrote “Disinfection in Yellow Fever.”


Charles B. White MD