Top ten causes of death: US 1915

Now, let’s do the time warp again, back to 1915 in the United States.

All causes of death 815,500 recorded deaths. Rate of deaths per 100,000: 1317.6

Rates are per 100,000 estimated midyear population.

According to, the US population was 100,546,000 in 1915.

Top ten causes of death US 1015

1. Diseases of the heart: 101,429

2. Pneumonia (all forms) and influenza:90,330

3. Tuberculosis (all forms):86,725

4. Nephritis (all forms):62,841

5. Intracranial lesions of vascular origin: 58,460

6. Cancer and other malignant tumors: 49,935

7. Accidents excluding motor-vehicle: 42,500

8. Diarrhea, enteritis and ulceration of the intestines: 41,771

9. Premature birth: 27,712

10. Senility : 11,555

Premature birth is on this list, at a rate of 2.6% of all the deaths. Heart disease is at the top of the list, though pneumonia and influenza take over the top of the list in 1918 and stay at the top for a while. We have not had an influenza that deadly since then, but it looks like we will…..

The 1915 list used the Fifth Revision of International Lists. This changes as I go through the table of death causes and rates, the International Classification of Disease is used, the Ninth Revision in 1975 and the Tenth Revision in May of 1990. The Eleventh has a release date of 2018. The US goes to ICD 10 on October first, but not the same ICD-10 as the rest of the world. Ours has 48,000 diagnosis codes. The rest of the world uses one with 14,000 codes. So senility had a different definition than Alzheimer’s.

The picture is me on my maternal grandfather’s lap in a summer cabin in Ontario, Canada. He was a physician, a psychiatrist. Think how much things have changed since he finished medical school until I did…..

2 thoughts on “Top ten causes of death: US 1915

  1. susurrus says:

    This list surprised me. In particular I had no idea TB would be so high.

    • drkottaway says:

      Tuberculosis was common and lethal. There was great difficulty isolating the cause and for a while they had the wrong bacteria…..

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