30 Facts About Abel Wolman


Abel Wolman was an American engineer, educator and pioneer of modern sanitary engineering.


Abel Wolman was born to Louis and Rose Wachsman Wolman on June 10,1892 in Baltimore, Maryland.


Abel Wolman was the fourth eldest child of Polish-Jewish immigrants.


Abel Wolman received his high school education from the Baltimore City College in 1909.


Abel Wolman then went on to complete a Bachelor of Science in Engineering at the Johns Hopkins University, graduating in 1915 as the fourth person to receive a degree at the newly-established Whiting School of Engineering.


Abel Wolman was awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters from the Maryland Institute College of Arts and a Doctor of Law by the Johns Hopkins University in 1969.


Abel Wolman served an extensive career in sanitary engineering, working in both environmental and public health services as well as in academics.


In 1922, Abel Wolman became the Chief Engineer of the Maryland State Department of Health, where he served for 18 years until 1939.


Abel Wolman held various consultancy positions as an consulting engineer for public health organizations, including but not limited to the United States Public Health Service and the United States Army Corps of Engineers from 1927 to 1944 and the United States delegate to the International Health Conference from 1946 to 1950.


Abel Wolman is best known for his 1919 contribution, with chemist Linn Enslow, in the standardization of chlorinating Baltimore's drinking-water supply.


Abel Wolman's work benefited water systems in New York, Detroit and Columbus, Ohio.


In 1937, Abel Wolman started his official academic career at Johns Hopkins University when he was made Professor of Sanitary Engineering at the Whiting School of Engineering and the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health, and his academic career did not end until his death in 1989 at the age of 96.


Abel Wolman was appointed Professor Emeritus in 1962, but had no desire to retire from professional life, so he continued his teaching and research in addition to serving as a consultant to the many governments and municipalities that requested his advice and assistance.


Abel Wolman was involved heavily with the American Water Works Association, a close affiliate with the American Public Health Association, where Wolman served as the editor of the organization's journal, the Journal of the American Water Works Association, from 1921 to 1937 and eventually became the President of the organization in 1942.


Abel Wolman died at his home in Baltimore, Maryland on February 22,1989, aged 96 years old.


In collaboration with Linn Enslow, Abel Wolman wanted to standardize a chlorination method to purify municipal water supplies.


In "The Metabolism of Cities", Abel Wolman highlighted three major "metabolic" problems that plagued major cities in the United States and offered his insight on the reality of those problems and possible solutions.


Abel Wolman defined the metabolic requirements of a city as all materials and commodities needed to sustain its population, including all processes related to the proper removal and disposal of waste products produced in daily life.


Abel Wolman concluded the article on a somewhat optimistic note, mentioning that the future of water sanitation, sewage disposal, and eliminating air pollutants is hopeful.


However, in order to reach that future, Abel Wolman called for immediate action and planning of policies and programs needed to combat the three metabolic problems.


In 1948, Abel Wolman was awarded the Sedgwick Memorial Medal by the American Public Health Association for his contributions in the field of public health.


In 1967, Abel Wolman was awarded the William Procter Prize for Scientific Achievement for his contributions in the field of science.


In 1968, Wolman was awarded the first Lewis L Dollinger Pure Environment Award.


In 1973, Abel Wolman was awarded the Milton Stover Eisenhower Medal.


In 1974, Abel Wolman was awarded the National Medal of Science.


In 1976, Abel Wolman was awarded the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement and the Ben Gurion Award.


In 1986, Wolman was awarded the Robert E Horton Medal and the John Wesley Powell Award.


In regards to professional societies, Abel Wolman was awarded with honorary memberships in the American Society of Civil Engineers, the American Academy of Environmental Engineers, the Water Pollution Control Federation, the American Water Resources Association, the American Academy of Environmental Engineers, the Franklin Institute, and the Technion of Haifa Board of Directors.


In 1986, the City of Baltimore renamed its public works building to the Abel Wolman Municipal Building, honoring his years of service to the city.


Today, the Abel Wolman Municipal Building is where citizens of Baltimore come to pay their property taxes, parking fines and metered water bills.