History of ASTHO

ASTHO's origins date back to 1879. The subject of forming a national association of health officials was first discussed during a meeting of the Sanitary Council of the Mississippi Valley to discuss measures to control the spread of cholera. The officers of state boards of health met again informally four years later in Detroit to discuss forming their own national organization. The following year, representatives from 19 states met in Washington, D.C., and established the National Conference of State Boards of Health. In 1897, the constitution was amended to include membership for representatives from Canada and Mexico.

By the turn of the 20th century, the U.S. Surgeon General and state/territorial health officials began meeting annually to discuss medical and scientific aspects of controlling yellow fever and other diseases prevalent at the time. At the 1908 conference, the inter-state quarantine regulations were discussed in detail and handled along the lines of a "working conference." Succeeding conferences offered the opportunity to discuss administrative problems and relationships, as well as advances in the prevention and control of disease.

With the passing of the Social Security Act of 1935, state/territorial health officials recognized the need for an organization that would help them navigate rapidly expanding state/territorial public health policies and programs and represent them on matters concerning federal health grants.

ASTHO was incorporated on March 23, 1942. Our members, the chiefs of health agencies in all 50 states, 6 U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia, span 10 time zones across the globe. ASTHO supports efforts that protect the health of all people and engages in a wide range of scientific, educational, and policy issues on behalf of public health.