Friday, May 16, 2014

Top 10 Causes of Death in Erie, PA in 1946

June 1947 Erie's Health drawn by Helen P. Thurlow.
Sad to say, I don't have any fun facts about Erie. This post is pretty grim. One thousand five hundred and eighteen people died in the City of Erie, PA in 1946. The death rate per 1,000 population was 11.6. The number one cause of death?   Heart Disease

"Heart disease continues to rise and continues to be the greatest killer of mankind. There were 60 more such deaths in 1946 over 1945. Cancer is still unopposed for the second most common cause of death, although there were forty less deaths from that disease then in 1945. Apoplexy has shown a slightly lower trend for the past ten years. Pneumonia deaths have shown a gradual decline for practically the same period. Accidental deaths have shown a decline for the past three years, but the increase, already noted in automobile deaths, will probably tend to end this decline.

The epidemic of gastro-intestinal infection in young infants, which spread over the entire nation last year, accounted for this cause of death being elevated into the first ten causes of death in 1946. It also accounted for our highest infant mortality rate in a number of years. Diseases of early infancy and kidney diseases remained rather stationary. 1946 shown the gradual increase in diabetes deaths which has been evident for several years." -City of Erie Board of Health, June 1947.

Top 10 Causes of Death in the City of Erie in 1946:
1.   Heart disease, responsible for 528 deaths.
2.   Cancer, the cause of 193 deaths. 
3.   Apoplexy, 153 deaths.
4.   Pneumonia (all kinds), 84 deaths.
5.   Accidents, 61 deaths.
6.   Gastro-enteritis, claimed 50 children under two years of age.
7.   Nephritis (Bright's Disease), 47 deaths.
8.   Diseases of early infancy, including congenital deformities, 30 deaths.
9.   Diabetes, 27 deaths.
10. Tuberculosis (all kinds), 25 deaths.

For comparisons sake, here is a list from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Top 10 Causes of Death in the U.S. in 2010:
1.   Heart Disease
2.   Cancer
3.   Chronic lower respiratory disease
4.   Stroke
5.   Accidents
6.   Alzheimer's disease
7.   Diabetes
8.   Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome and nephrosis
9.   Influenza and pneumonia
10. Intentional self-harm (suicide)

Find more facts about Erie on my Erie History Blog


  1. It is very sad to see suicide is in the top 10 as a cause of death.

    1. I agree. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline operates a 24-hour hotline to help people find help in their area. The national number is 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Calls are routed to the closest available crisis center. NSPL's website address is: