Date of Award
Bachelor of Arts
All my life I have been hearing about Dr. Walter Reed. He has been known to me as the man who made possible the building of the Panama Canal. This I was told he did by eliminating yellow fever from Central America. How he succeeded in doing this or when it was done, I did not know. Indeed, people in general seem to know nothing whatever concerning him. In order to inform myself of Dr. Reed's work I have have decided to prepare this paper. I also feel that it is my duty to learn of Dr. Reed. He was born in my native county -- Gloucester, Va. This last fact is my outstanding reason for this topic. He has gained world-wide fame; being perhaps the only Gloucesterian to obtain such a high place in the last century.
I have passed and repassed the place of his birth; it seemed just as any other place. I feel now that it would be impossible to go in sight of this spot without receiving a thrill. Not a thrill of happiness nor of joy, but one of pride. Pride because I am where one of the greatest Americans was born and also because I am a native of the same county. I shall first give an account of his life and works combined. This will be followed with an estimation of the value of his accomplishments to civilization. I shall conclude the paper with a discussion of the movement to make Dr. Reed's birthplace a national shrine, that is, for the government to buy the house and see that it is kept in good condition. As I have explained, the topic will be considered in an informing way; facts which I think would interest the average person being given. It will not be treated from a medical point of view. I shall not attempt any lengthy explanation of the facts which were discovered. The details of such experiments must be left to medical students, who are capable of explaining them.
Before concluding the introduction I want to say a word concerning the sources from which I have gathered my material. The books which I consulted are listed in the bibliography. In addition to these I have corresponded with Dr. Reed's brother, James C. Reed of Blackstone, Va. Mr. James C. Reed is an elder in the Methodist church. He has given me some valuable information, facts which are not recorded in any of the books which I have consulted. I corresponded, also, with the office of the Surgeon-General of the United States Army in Washington, D.C. As another means of obtaining information I talked with Dr. Greer Baughman, a prominent physician of Richmond, Virginia, who is one of the five members of the Walter Reed Memorial Commission. I have also talked with several fellow-countymen who knew Dr. Reed personally. One man, indeed, lived in the house in which Dr. Reed was born for twenty years. In addition to this I made a special trip to the house.The house is still standing. I am incorporating some pictures which I took in March in this paper.
The house in which Dr. Reed was born is twelve by twenty feet, having two doors and five windows. There are two rooms and an attic. The rear room had a ground floor, the front room is raised several feet from the ground. It is today standing on brick blocks; these are evidently the work of recent years. It was doubtless upon wooden blocks when Reed lived there. The right wing was added in the last thirty years. No one is living the house today. It is rapidly showing the weathering of time. There is a move on, by the National Medical Society in Washington, to preserve the house. This, in itself, shows that Americans are just beginning to realize the value of Dr. Reed's contributions to civilization.
As a result of my investigation I have learned to appreciate Dr. Reed. To me he ranks among the greatest men of his age, indeed he equals the best of them. Theodore Roosevelt wrote the following sentence to the Senate and House of Representatives on December 5, 1906: "Major Reed's part in the experiments which resulted in teaching us how to cope with yellow fever was such as to render mankind his debtor, and this nation should in some proper fashion bear witness to this fact."
Corr, Reade W., "Dr. Walter Reed and yellow fever" (1926). Honors Theses. 450.