Fluoridation: Water quality, health, and free choice

Division Street Water Main. Washington State Archives' Digital ArchivesCity of Spokane Public Works Photographs. 1925.


From the 1940s to the 1970s, a variety of individuals, groups, and health care professionals supported and opposed fluoridation of water systems throughout the United States. Free choice, religious, and health reasons all entered into discussions for and against fluoridation of public water systems.


Start with secondary sources 

Use secondary sources to gain basic knowledge of your topic, its significance, and historical context.

Ask a Librarian online at Washington State Library to get expert help in locating useful secondary sources. 


Then use primary sources

Use primary sources to deepen your understanding of the topic, and assemble evidence to support your own analysis and interpretation.

Ask an Archivist online at Washington State Archives to get expert help in locating useful primary sources.


Some key historical research questions:

  • When was fluoridation first brought to a vote in Seattle and other communities in Washington state?
  • What was the outcome?
  • What were the arguments for and against fluoridation?
  • Which individuals and groups supported fluoridation, and which ones opposed it?
  • What was going on nationally with respect to fluoridation at that time?
  • How did support for and opposition to fluoridation reflect larger social, economic, and political beliefs?
  • Consider other possibilities for historical questions as you analyze and interpret this topic.


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