JANUARY 13, 1940
NEW YORK, Friday—The Democratic Digest, published once a month by the Women's Division of the National Democratic Committee, is undertaking a very interesting demonstration of how one can actually go about knowing one's own community.
Mrs. Dorothy McAllister and Mrs. May Evans decided that public health was a good study point in any city or rural district. They invited a small group of women to join them yesterday in the District of Columbia Health Commissioner's office. Dr. Ruhland was away, but his deputy received the group.
We were told first about the things which the Department was doing that were considered important to public health. The Department can show real results for one campaign which it has carried and which is tied up with the desire to restrict the spread of contagious diseases. They are inspecting glassware and silverware in all the restaurants and soda fountains in the city. At first the number of germs found on glasses was extremely high, but they have brought it down so that many restaurants run below a hundred, where they once were up in the thousands.
In the District of Columbia, the most serious menaces seem to be tuberculosis and pneumonia. Deaths from tuberculosis are, of course, far higher among the colored citizens.
In the course of the conversation, it was brought out that, in areas where poor housing exists, disease rates go up in proportion to the low economic status of the families. All clinics are overcrowded and the number of public health nurses in the District is just about half of what is considered safe for a city of this size.
We went through the laboratory where experiments are being made with pneumonia serums which have appreciably cut down the number of deaths from pneumonia. I felt that I had acquired a great deal of knowledge on this first trip. It is planned to continue these trips, looking into a different phase of District of Columbia government and publishing an account of findings in the "Digest." It is hoped that this will be helpful to women in other cities, or rural areas, who wish to study their own problems.
This week, in New York City, has been designated as "Kindergarten Week" by the kindergartners of the city, in order to try to awaken public interest to the importance of retaining kindergartens as part of the public education system. I wish this could be done all over the country, for kindergartens and nursery schools should be available to all our children. At an early age they acquire fundamental habits which will help them all through their later years.
Last night, the Congressional Reception took place. During dinner I particularly enjoyed having the President and the Vice-President vie with each other telling stories of their past political experiences.
Miss Thompson and I came to New York City on the midnight train and are going to Hyde Park this afternoon.