Charles V. Chapin

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Charles Value Chapin

Death: Died
Immediate Family:

Son of Joshua Bicknell Chapin and Jane Catherine Louise Chapin

Managed by: Private User
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About Charles V. Chapin

Charles Value Chapin (January 17, 1856 – January 31, 1941 in Providence) was a pioneer in public- health practice, serving as one of the Health Officers for Providence, Rhode Island between 1884 and 1932. He also served as President of the American Public Health Association in 1927.

His observations on the nature of the spread of infectious disease were dismissed at first, but eventually gained widespread support. His book, The Sources and Modes of Infection, was frequently read in the United States and Europe.

The Providence City Hospital was renamed the Charles V. Chapin Hospital in 1931 to recognize his substantial contributions to improving the sanitary condition of the city of Providence.


Born in Providence, C. V. Chapin became a pre-eminent public health official in the United States. With a career spanning 48 years, he served as the Superintendent of the Providence Department of Health and was considered to be the "Dean of City Health Officials". He became President of the American Public Health Association and won numerous awards from this organization. He served as President of the American Epidemiological Society. In 1928 he was awarded the Public Welfare Medal from the National Academy of Sciences. He also received the W.T. Sedgwick Medal of the APHA. He won honorary degrees from Brown University, Rhode Island State College, and Yale, where C.E.A. Winslow was chair.

Publications and accomplishments

He was a prolific writer. Two of his classic works were The Sources and Modes of Infection (1910) and A Report on State Public Health Work Based on a Survey of State Boards of Health (1915). Six of his papers were in the category of public-health administration, five were in communicable diseases and five were published in epidemiology and vital statistics. Later review found five of the papers particularly noteworthy, including The Fetich of Disinfection (1906), and Studies in Air and Contact Infection at the Providence City Hospital (1911). These two contained the basic tenets of the Sources and Modes of Infection cited above. He published on the administrative and resource aspects of the public's health, in How Should We Spend the Health Appropriation? (1913). His contributions to community hygiene and sanitary science were considered lasting. He led successful community hygiene practices to combat the pandemic flu of 1918 at Providence.

Chapin taught that diseases come from persons and not things, and that they are spread only by contact, food, and animal carriers. He inspired others to evaluate all of the collective efforts of community hygiene in terms of outcomes, an early effort to quantify the social sciences aspect of public-health practice. Further, he was a forerunner to the notion of health disparities among the poor, having published Deaths among Taxpayers and Non-Taxpayers (1924), an early connection of health and economic status. In 1926 he published Changes in Contagious Diseases, which described the variety of infectious agents in smallpox vs. scarlet fever. Altogether he published more than 113 titles. During his lifetime it was written, that his contributions to the philosophy and methodology of public health were greater than, "any living man". He was compared to his forerunners in the field, Frank, Edwin Chadwick, Simon, Lemuel Shattuck, William Thompson Sedgwick, and Hermann Biggs, as one of the greats of all time in public health. These comments and summary of the man and his work were written C.E.A. Winslow.


Municipal Sanitation in the United States. Snow & Farnham, Providence, RI. 1901.
The Sources and Modes of Infection. John Wiley & Sons, New York. 1910.
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Charles V. Chapin's Timeline

Age 85