Davis, Dr. Henry H.

Title

Davis, Dr. Henry H.

Description

A leader in public health, Dr. Henry Hill Davis lived at 417 Cooper Street for five years prior to his retirement in 1925.

Biographical Text

During the 1920s, a leader in public health who helped Camden respond to epidemics and keep its children healthy, lived for five years at 417 Cooper Street. These were the culminating years of Dr. Henry Hill Davis's long service as medical inspector for Camden's public schools.

A native of Crosswicks, Burlington County, Davis came to Camden in the 1870s after graduating from Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia. While many physicians during the late nineteenth century gravitated toward Cooper Street and the vicinity of the recently opened Cooper Hospital, Davis opened both a pharmacy and medical practice in Kaighn Point. In 1899, he was appointed medical inspector for Camden's public schools--the first post of its kind in New Jersey and only the second in the nation, after New York City. Davis instituted annual physical examinations for Camden pupils and required vaccinations before any child could be admitted to school.

While continuing in this work for the schools, Davis was among the leaders in founding a new Camden Municipal Hospital for Contagious Diseases, which opened in 1916, and he served for twenty years as president of the Camden Board of Health. Over his long career, he led Camden's responses to smallpox outbreaks and the influenza epidemic of 1918-19.

Davis and his wife, Harriett, rented the row house at 417 Cooper Street beginning in 1920; Davis was by this time 70 years old and his wife nine years younger. Their previous address had been 522 Linden Street, which was soon to be enveloped by construction activity for the Delaware River Bridge (later renamed the Benjamin Franklin Bridge). While at 417 Cooper, Davis continued in his post as medical inspector until retiring in 1925. The city honored him not only with a pension but also by giving his name to a new public school--still operating in 2020 as the Dr. Henry H. Davis Family School in East Camden. A street near the former site of the Municipal Hospital also bears his name.

In retirement, the Davises moved to Toms River, New Jersey, where they owned a home. There, Henry Davis's life came to a tragic end at the age of 78 in April 1929 when he was hit and killed by an automobile. The Camden Courier-Post took the opportunity when reporting his death to deliver a public health message: already during the first four months of the year, 55 people in South Jersey had been killed in crashes involving automobiles.

Time period on Cooper Street

1920-25

Location(s) - Cooper Street

417 Cooper Street

Location(s) - Other

522 Linden Street (previous address)
563 Benson Street (previous address)
Third Street and Kaighn Avenue (pharmacy and practice, beginning 1870s)
Crosswicks, New Jersey
Toms River, New Jersey
Philadelphia

Occupation

Physician, Medical Inspector for Camden Schools

Birth Date

c. 1851

Birthplace

Crosswicks, N.J.

Death Date

April 10, 1929

Associated Individuals

Harriet Davis, wife

Sources

Camden City Directories and U.S. Census (Ancestry.com).
Camden Courier-Post (Newspapers.com).

Research by

Charlene Mires

Posted by

Charlene Mires
Send corrections to cmires@camden.rutgers.edu

Collection

Citation

“Davis, Dr. Henry H.,” Learning From Cooper Street, accessed October 1, 2022, https://omeka.camden.rutgers.edu/items/show/51.

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