Journal of Community Health

, Volume 43, Issue 3, pp 625–627 | Cite as

From Dispensaries to Community Health Centers: Health Delivery Change Across the Twentieth Century



This piece examines the historical forces and forebears that preceded, and helped shape, community health centers. Though the current iteration of community health centers date from the 1960s, their (deeper) roots go back to the earliest years of the twentieth century. They began life as largely urban phenomena, and rode the wave of the larger program of Progressive-era political and socioeconomic reforms.


Community health centers Dispensaries Neighborhood health centers Great society Progressive era 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


  1. 1.
    Brieger, G. H. (1977). The use and abuse of medical charities in late nineteenth century America. American Journal of Public Health, 67(8), 264–267.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Vietor, A. (1899). The abuse of medical charity: The passing of the charity hospital and dispensary. Boston Medical and Surgical Journal, 140(18), 417.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Rosen, G. (1971). The first neighborhood health center movement: Its rise and fall. American Journal of Public Health, 61(8), 1620–1637.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Corburn, J. (2007). Reconnecting with our roots: American urban planning and public health in the twenty-first century. Urban Affairs Review, 42(5), 688–713.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Wilinksy, C. F. (1927). The health center. American Journal of Public Health, 17, 677–682.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Roemer, M. I. (1988). Resistance to innovation: The case of the community health center. American Journal of Public Health, 78(9), 1234–1239.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Fullilove, M. T., & Wallace, R. (2011). Serial forced displacement in American cities, 1916–2010. Journal of Urban Health, 88(3), 381–389.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Brandon, W. (1977). Politics, administration, and conflict in neighborhood health centers. Journal of Health Politics, Policy, and Law, 2(1), 79–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Lefkowitz, B. (2007). Community health centers: A movement and the people who made it happen. Piscataway, NJ: Rutgers University Press.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Strelnick, A. H. (2004). Increasing access to health care and reducing minority health disparities: A brief history and the impact of community health centers. Legislation and Public Policy, 63(8), 63–80.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Hawkins, D., & Groves, D. (2011). The future role of community health centers in a changing health care landscape. Journal of Ambulatory Care Management, 39(1), 90–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    National Association of Community Health Centers. (2016). A sketch of community health centers: Chartbook, August 2016. Bethesda: NACHCGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.SUNY-Downstate School of Public HealthBrooklynUSA

Personalised recommendations