KNAPP, HAROLD JENNINGS (15 July 1887-25 Jan. 1955) public health advocate and Cleveland health commissioner, was born in Elyria, the son of William Pitcher and Mary Ann (Churchill) Knapp. Educated at Elyria public schools, Knapp received an A.M. degree from Western Reserve University in 1911 and an M.D. from its Medical School in 1919. After working briefly for the U.S. Public Health Service, he began his long career in Cleveland's Department of Health, becoming health commissioner in 1930. During his tenure, death rates for many types of life-menacing diseases reached new lows in the city. In collaboration with the Cleveland Dental Society, the Cleveland Welfare Federation, and the Board of Education Knapp established free dental clinics for all indigent grade-school children as well as immunization programs for diptheria, small-pox, whooping cough, and tetanus. He organized the Newton D. Baker Health Center in 1949, the first of five such projects and instituted a city chest X-ray survey and a blood testing project which attracted national interest. An active proponent of community water fluoridation, the health commissioner initiated legislation to permit the addition of fluoride to city water which began in 1956. Through his efforts, Cleveland had one of the best health records in the nation.

Knapp married Hannah Gray 24 July 1913, and they had a daughter Helen Maurine. A resident of Cleveland, he died in the city and was buried at Lakewood Park Cemetery.

Article Categories