Baldwin County (Georgia) Cemeteries

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Joseph Hill White

May 4, 1859 - Feb 28, 1953

Cemetery: Memory Hill
West Side, Section I, Lot 9, Grave 6
-- See section's Lot Layout map on Memory Hill website. (Map will open in a new window.)

Inscription and Notes:

Dr. Joseph Hill White

From the Union Recorder newspaper, 1940, and "Men of Medicine" in the March, 1951 (Vol. 9, No. 3) issue of Postgraduate Medicine:
"The American doctor whose odyssey rivals that of Dr. Victor Heiser, is Milledgeville's own Dr. Joseph White, listed in Who's Who for his brilliant work in the conquest of yellow fever."

"Dr. White, here in Milledgeville to spend a few days at the home of his sister-in-law, Miss Mary Humber, in Hancock street, has trekked around the world in his battles against disease. He was accompanied to Milledgeville this week by his daughters, Misses Josephine and Berta White, one (sic) of whom was, like her father, born in Milledgeville. They live with him in Washington, where he has made his home since retiring."

A native of this county, Dr. White received his medical training at the College of Physicians and Surgeons in Baltimore, Md, in 1883. He returned to Milledgeville to practice briefly and then went into public health work with the United States government. It was a career that was to take him the wide world over.

Conquered Yellow Fever

Dr. White is credited with the first mosquito eradication experiment in the face of a major yellow fever epidemic. Thanks to his pioneering work at the National Soldier's Home near Newport News, Virginia in 1899, the Army Yellow Fever Commission headed by Dr. Walter Reed proved in 1900 that yellow fever is transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito. Dr. White's management of the 1905 New Orleans yellow fever epidemic provided incontrovertible proof that the practical application of Reed's theory could circumvent outbreaks of this disease. The city presented him with a magnificent silver service, and the railroads running into the city, whose schedules had been practically annihilated by the quarantines, gave him a handsome chest of flat silver.

Going to Mexico to help with the yellow fever conquest there, to Guatamala and other parts of Central America to set up facilities for the elimination of hookworm, and to the Canal Zone after the death of General Gorgas to carry on the work against the yellow fever there, Dr. White has had a career as colorful as any in the pages of fiction.

Was Sent to Europe

In 1893, he was sent to Hamburg to help rid certain countries of the cholera plague. There he contracted cholera. In Hamburg, he worked with Dr. William Phillips Dunbar to devise tests for carriers and for suspected material that may carry cholera, thereby allowing many emigrants and millions of dollars worth of goods to enter the U. S.   [The Feb. 6, 1894 Union Recorder reads: "While at Hamburg, he inspected 27,000 emigrants, 10,000 passengers, 10,000 sailors, crews of vessels bound for America, 7 vessels in one day and 27 vessels in one week."] Always his interest was in keeping diseases away from the shores of America.

Under the auspices of the Rockefeller Foundation and through his publications in medical and scientific journals and appearances at national and international conferences, Dr. White helped convince the medical community and the general public of the importance of preventative medicine and public health measures in the control of disease. Though he touched various fields of disease in his work, yellow fever and its conquest in America have had the deepest interest for him, and he has become known in the annals of medical history principally for his unsurpassed work with this disease.

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