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Our People of the Century
Arthur Goldhaft: Pioneering Vet Put "a chicken in every pot"

The life work of veterinarian Arthur Goldhaft improved human health and nutrition not only in Cumberland County but worldwide.

His poultry research laid the groundwork for mass manufacture of vaccines for people. His work also showed the world how to grow more of the healthier chickens that helped deliver Herbert Hoover’s promised chicken in every pot.

“He was a wonderful man,” said Jean Holshue, who went to work for Goldhaft’s Vineland Poultry Laboratories right out of high school in 1954. Holshue stayed with the company through sales and now works in customer service for IGI, Inc.

Vineland Poultry Laboratories produced poultry vaccines. The laboratory was first sold about 1970, and a decade later became part of Vineland labs, a division of Igi.

Goldhaft’s parents were part of the Jewish Am Olam group that settled in Alliance. His autobiography, “The Golden Egg,” recounts the story of how Am Olam came to be.

A group of Jewish philanthropists in France started an agency called Alliance Isrealite Universelle, known as Alliance, to help Jews all over the world. One of the ways was by making it possible for Jewish families to farm.

An Am Olam group sponsored by the French agency founded the Alliance colony northwest of Vineland.

Farming didn’t work out for Goldhaft’s parents, although they tried to make a go of it twice in Alliance. Goldhaft’s mother was a skilled midwife and supported the family by delivering babies.

Goldhaft was born in Philadelphia in 1886. He grew up a poor, prone-to-fighting street kid.

Goldhaft, then 15, went to the Jewish Agricultural School in Woodbine, figuring he could always run away if it turned out to be the reform school he thought it was. Started by Baron de Hirsch, a Jewish philanthropist in the Alliance agency, the Woodbine school taught Goldhaft, and many others, how to farm scientifically.

It changed his life. He graduated second in his class, spent several years as a farmhand in the MidWest and then enrolled in the University of Pennsylvania veterinary school. After marrying Florence Mirsky in 1908 and working his way through Penn, he graduated in 1910.

The couple moved from Philadelphia to Vineland in search for a healthier country life for their children. By 1916, after treating a menagerie of animals, Goldhaft started applying his knowledge to chickens and the diseases that often killed them in great numbers.

He figured out that fowl-pox vaccine could be shipped if kept at room temperature. He helped design a freeze-drying machine to manufacture the laryngo-virus vaccine developed by Rutgers researcher Frank Beaudette.

And he developed the way to grow vaccines inside eggs, which eliminated the use of animals for the process.

Goldhaft put chickens on the world’s dinner tables.

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