William Crawford Gorgas (1854-1920) biographical file

Identifier: EBL-1115

  • Staff Only


Biographical file contains a book on Gorgas' contributions to the creation of the Panama Canal, a booklet from the Memorial Services held in honor of Gorgas by the Southern Society of Washington D.C., an invitation to his memorial service, and a postcard featuring the Gorgas Home.


  • 1921 - 1947

Notes about Access to this Collection

All collections are subject to applicable VUMC privacy and confidentiality policies.

Reproduction Rights

Copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

Historical or Biographical Note

William Crawford Gorgas was a United States physician and 22nd Surgeon General of the U.S. Army (19141918). After studying at The University of the South and Bellevue Hospital Medical College, Doctor Gorgas was appointed to the US Army Medical Corps in June 1880. Gorgas was assigned to three posts -- Fort Clark, Fort Duncan, and Fort Brown -- in Texas. While at Fort Brown (188284), he survived yellow fever. In 1898, after the end of the Spanish-American War, Gorgas was appointed Chief Sanitary Officer in Havana, working to eradicate yellow fever and malaria.

Gorgas was made Surgeon General of the Army in 1914, in which position he was able to capitalize on the momentous work of two other doctors to prove the mosquito transmission of yellow fever. As such, Gorgas won international fame battling the illness-first in Florida, later in Havana, Cuba, and finally at the Panama Canal.

As chief sanitary officer on the canal project, Gorgas implemented far-reaching sanitary programs including the draining of ponds and swamps, fumigation, mosquito netting, and public water systems. These measures were instrumental in permitting the construction of the Panama Canal, as they significantly prevented illness due to yellow fever and malaria (which had also been shown to be transmitted by mosquitoes in 1898) among the thousands of workers involved in the building project.


0 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials


William Crawford Gorgas (1854-1920) biographical file
Processed by EBL Special Collections Staff
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is inEnglish.

Repository Details

Part of the VUMC Historical Images and Biographies Repository

Eskind Biomedical Library
2209 Garland Ave.
Nashville TN 37232


About this Site

This site contains collection guides, or finding aids, to the archival collections held by Vanderbilt University Special Collections and University Archives, the History of Medicine Collection, and the Scarritt Bennett Center. Finding aids describe the context, arrangement, and structure of archival materials, allowing users to identify and request materials relevant to their research.

Requesting Materials

Each finding aid contains a link to request materials from the collections. Collections can also be requested by emailing the repository directly through the library website. Each repository has its own location, hours, and contact information. Please consult the repository with questions about using the materials. Collections are non-circulating and must be used in the repository’s reading room. In many cases, the collections are stored off-site and require advance notice for retrieval.