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Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

PERKINS, ROGER GRISWOLD

PERKINS, ROGER GRISWOLD

PERKINS, ROGER GRISWOLD (17 May 1874-28 Mar. 1936), responsible for filtrating and chlorinating Cleveland's water, was born in Schenectady, N.Y., to Maurice and Anna D. (Potts) Perkins. He graduated from Union College (1893), Harvard with an A.B. (1894), and Johns Hopkins with a medical degree (1898), and came to Cleveland in 1898. He began teaching in 1899 at WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY, remaining until 1930, becoming head of the department of hygiene and bacteriology in 1914.

Perkins began investigating the city's water supply in order to eradicate typhoid in 1901. Appointed city bacteriologist in 1906 and 1913, he established and became chief of the Bureau of Laboratories of Cleveland's Div. of Health from 1914-23. His studies isolated and identified streptococcus mucosus, and established filtration of Lake Erie water. Perkins experimented to determine the possibility of chlorinating the city's water in 1910-11. Chlorine treatments began in 1911, but when citizens complained that the water tasted bad, erroneously blaming the chlorine, treatments were reduced and typhoid escalated. Full chlorination and filtration was achieved in 1925.

Perkins served in WORLD WAR I as scientific attache at the U.S. embassy in Paris and worked with the Red Cross in the Balkans, being awarded the Order of the Crown of Romania and the Order of the Serbian Red Cross. Perkins, also interested in milk and food purification, introduced efficient food inspection. He formed the Cleveland Health Council in 1925.

Perkins married EDNA BRUSH on 14 Nov. 1905. They had four children Charles Brush, Roger Griswold, Jr., Maurice, and John. Perkins retired to Providence, R.I., in 1930, where he died and was buried.


Roger Griswold Perkins Papers, Allen Memorial Medical Library Archives.

Perkins, Charles Brush. Ancestors of Charles Brush Perkins and Maurice Perkins (1976).