Dr. Edward Bartow greatly influenced the Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS) and the field of sanitary chemistry.
He was hired by the University of Illinois to work as the director of the ISWS in 1905 when the survey's acting director passed away. He spent his first year at the University of Illinois as an associate professor of sanitary chemistry while also working as the director of the survey. He was then promoted to professor of sanitary chemistry the following year (Kirkpatrick, 1959).
During his first year at the Water Survey, he worked with the sanitary engineer of the Illinois State Board of Health to plan how the ISWS and the State Board of Health could work together when it came to water quality problems (Bartow, 1906). The resulting relationship was extremely important when it came to investigating typhoid outbreaks, and there are letters within the ISWS records about disease outbreaks between the State Board of Health and the ISWS.
Dr. Bartow researched several topics, including water purity and wastewater treatment. One example is "Examination of Drinking Water on Railway Trains" (Bartow, 1915). His work was published in several journals, including Journal of the American Water Works Association and the Journal of the American Chemical Society. His work on activated sludge is one of his better-known research topics. He led the first successful large-scale activated-sludge experiments in the United States (Kirkpatrick, 1959). His research has been cited by multiple scientists and mentioned in several histories on activated sludge.
Dr. Bartow completed other tasks besides research. He advocated for the survey's responsibilities to be expanded to better serve different communities and for the ISWS to start working on preventative measures. This was key. Prior to this, the ISWS was only involved when something was wrong (“Pure Water for People of State,” 1911). Dr. Bartow would also advocate for municipal water supplies and would inspect municipal water supplies to ensure they were providing clean water (“Director of State Water Survey Here,” 1916).
The ISWS had several PhD students working in the labs at the time. Dr. Bartow would sometimes give them advice (Bixby, 1917). He also authored ISWS Bulletins 3 - 16. These bulletins fulfilled several roles, including helping cities with unsatisfactory water supplies learn how to improve their water system, giving confidence to communities with good water, and explaining some of the research being conducted at the ISWS (Bartow, 1907).
He took a temporary leave from his duties as professor and director when World War I broke out. He joined the U.S. military and served in the American Expeditionary Forces from 1917 to 1918. He worked on providing clean water supplies to troops.
Shortly after he came back from the war, Dr. Bartow left the ISWS and the University of Illinois in 1920 to become a professor of chemistry at the University of Iowa (Kirkpatrick, 1959).
Dr. Bartow only worked at the Water Survey for 15 years; however, his impact can still be seen within the file room of the ISWS. Many of the early correspondences within the community records are addressed to him, and several reports are based on his recommendations. There are also dozens of historical newspaper articles mentioning him and his work that can be read online.
Bartow, E. (1906). Chemical and Biological Survey of the Waters of Illinois Report for Year Ending August 31, 1906 (Bulletin No. 3; Bulletin (Illinois State Water Survey), p. 35). Illinois State Water Survey. http://hdl.handle.net/2142/94552
Bartow, E. (1907). Municipal Water Supplies Of Illinois (Bulletin No. 5; Bulletin (Illinois State Water Survey)). Illinois State Water Survey. https://hdl.handle.net/2142/94578
Bartow, E. (1915). Examination of Drinking Water on Railway Trains. Journal American Water Works Association, 2(1), 74–82.
Bixby, M. (1917). The Significance of Lactose-Fermenting Organisms in Water [University of Illinois]. http://hdl.handle.net/2142/53719
Director of State Water Survey Here. (1916, July 28). The Rock Island Argus. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn92053934/1916-07-28/ed-1/seq-11/#date1=1777&index=16&rows=20
Kirkpatrick, S. D. (1959). Edward Bartow. Journal of the American Chemical Society, 81(22), 5841–5845. https://doi.org/10.1021/ja01531a001
Pure Water for People of State Professor Edward Bartow Urges Passage of New Bill Legislature in Interest of Health Directory of Illinois Survey Shows the Need of More Attention by Authorities. (1911, March 28). The Rock Island Argus. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn92053934/1911-03-28/ed-1/seq-6/#date1=1777&index=9&rows=20