An article printed in the December 11, 1924 issue of the Bossier Banner informed Dr. C. H. Irion of his responsibility in reporting births and deaths in Bossier Parish.

“There came to the Banner the latter part of last week, from the office of the State Board of Health, a carbon copy of a letter addressed to Dr. C. H. Irion, as Parish Health Officer, the same calling attention to the dearth of birth and death reports sent in from Bossier Parish. As this letter should be of interest to many of the Banner’s readers, some information little known being given, it is reproduced in full:”

To: Dr. C. H. Irion, Parish Health Officer, Benton, La.

“Dear Dr. Irion: I have been looking over the reports of births from your Parish, Bossier, For 1923, and find there were reported 188. If conditions are normal, and there is every reason to believe they are, you should have had a minimum of 561 births. This leaves your parish short 373 births.”

“During 1923 your parish registered 1026 automobiles and trucks. Why should every one register the automobile and not the child?”

“For the same year you had 117 deaths, 41 white and 70 colored; twelve of these deaths were under two years of age. The accepted estimate of deaths for your parish would be 336 which would leave 219 deaths not reported.”

“Vital statistics is the searchlight of the path of sanitary science. It is the bookkeeping of the Health conditions of your parish. Vital statistics is the guide to appropriate action in the maintenance and improvement of public health. Accurate records give the amount of unnecessary sickness and show how to reduce the death rate.”

“Act 237 of 1918 requires that every birth and death be reported. There is provision for paying The physicians or midwife 25 cents for the report and the registrar 25 cents for securing and forwarding same. Section 22 of the act requires that ‘the district judge shall charge the provisions of this act and direct the grand jury to investigate the violations thereof.’”

“Will you help me to secure the cooperation of all physicians and midwives, fathers and mothers to the end that we may have complete registration of births and deaths taking place in Bossier Parish for the months and years to come? We shall appreciate your assistance.”

“The State Board of Health does not desire the prosecution of any physician, unless he willfully and persistently fails neglects or refuses to report, but asks cordial co-operation of all.”

“I hope that the coming Christmas will be a merry one for you and yours, and that the New Year will bring you health, happiness and contentment, with reports of every birth and death in Bossier.”

In Bossier Parish birth records are kept at the Bossier Clerk of Court’s office. The records go back to 1915, three years before Act 237 in 1918 required that the records be kept.

To learn more about the development of medical practices in Bossier Parish visit the Bossier Parish Library Historical Center in person or online at www.bossierlibrary.org.

Ann Middleton is Director of the Bossier Parish Library Historical Center. She can be reached at (318) 746-7717 or amiddlet@state.lib.la.us