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Carter, Henry Roselocked

(25 August 1852–14 September 1925)
  • Margaret Humphreys


Carter, Henry Rose (25 August 1852–14 September 1925), sanitarian and epidemiologist, was born in Caroline County, Virginia, the son of Henry Rose Carter and Emma Coleman, planters. Carter graduated from the University of Virginia in 1873 with a degree in mathematics and engineering. A leg injury at that time led him to abandon plans for the active life that engineering entailed. After teaching for three years he earned a medical degree from the University of Maryland in 1879. He then entered government employment in the Marine Hospital Service, later the U.S. Public Health Service. Carter’s engineering education had equipped him for this competitive post, which offered a steady salary, travel, and the challenge of public health work. His career spanned the time during which the Marine Hospital Service evolved from an agency that ran hospitals for the merchant marine (and hired doctors to work in them) to the national public health service, maintaining quarantine stations and fighting epidemics along the American coast. Carter was a central figure in that expansion, acquiring and systematizing the knowledge needed to combat the principal foes: yellow fever and later malaria with a uniform public health code backed by federal authority. Although he often suffered from ill health, which included a disability from his leg injury, Meniere’s disease, syphilis acquired during a surgical procedure, and, at the end, angina, Carter traveled widely and lived a vigorous professional life....

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