Sternberg, George M.


1st US bacteriologist, Army physician and Surgeon General 1893-1902, expert on tuberculosis, malaria, typhoid, and yellow fever, established Army Medical School 1893


Autograph ID: 6257
Condition: Very good, thin band of light toning at extreme left edge
Description: “(1838-1915) US Army physician considered the 1st US bacteriologist. College of Physicians and Surgeons of New York MD 1860, fought in the Civil War and in the Indian Wars. In July 1870, he was sent to Governors Island, NY. During 2 years there and 3 (1872–75) at Fort Barrancas, Florida, Sternberg had frequent contacts with yellow fever patients, and contracted the disease himself. He earlier noted the efficiency of moving inhabitants out of infested environments and used that method at the Barrancas garrison. Sternberg published 2 articles on yellow fever in 1875 & 1877 which gained him status as an authority on yellow fever. On Dec. 1, 1875, he was promoted Major, and in April 1879, ordered to Washington, detailed to the 1880 Havana Yellow Fever Commission to work on problems relating to the nature and natural history of the disease, especially its origins, involving microscopical examination of blood and tissues; he was one of the first to employ the new process of photomicrography. He spent 3 months in Havana with Dr. Carlos Finlay, main proponent of the theory of mosquito transmission of yellow fever. His 1881 report found that Bacillus malariae had no part in causing malaria. That year, simultaneously with Louis Pasteur, he announced the discovery of the pneumococcus, eventually recognized as the pathogenic agent of lobar pneumonia. He was the 1st American to demonstrate the Plasmodium organism as cause of malaria (1885) and to confirm the causitive roles of the bacilli of tuberculosis and typhoid fever (1886). He was the 1st scientist to produce photomicrographs of the tubercule bacillus and the earliest US pioneer in the field of disinfection in which he began with experiments (1878) with putrefactive bacteria. He oversaw creation of the US Army enlisted hospital corps (“medics”) in 1887. Promoted to Lieut. Colonel, in 1892 he published his “Manual of Bacteriology”, 1st exhaustive treatise on the subject produced in the US. Named Surgeon General by President Cleveland on May 30, 1893 and promoted to Brig. Genl., his 1893-1902 tenure coincided with immense progress in bacteriology and the Spanish-American War. He created the Army Medical School (1893), the tuberculosis hospital at Fort Bayard, and a special surgical hospital at Washington Barracks, and organization of a contract dental service. He created the Typhoid Fever Board (1898) with Majors Walter Reed, Victor Vaughan, and Edward Shakespeare, which established the facts of contact infection and fly carriage of the disease. In 1900 he organized the Yellow Fever Commission, headed by Reed, which fixed transmission of yellow fever upon a species of mosquito. In 1901, he oversaw creation of the US Army Nurse Corps. He retired in 1902, his later years in Washington devoted to sanitary improvement of dwellings and care of tuberculosis patients.
2 3/4 x 3 1/2 card signed as Brigadier General, U.S.A., undated but ca. 1899.”
Type: Signed card

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