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Jefferson Randolph Kean Gorgas Medal collection

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: MS-69

Scope and Contents

The collection includes the Gorgas Medal given to Jefferson Randolph Kean on December 15, 1942. According to an accompanying pamphlet titled The War Doctor, the medal was given "for exceptionally meritorious services to preventive medicine for our armed forces." Also in the collection is the invitation to attend the luncheon for the presentation of the medal.


  • Creation: 1942 - 1943

Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

No restrictions

Conditions Governing Use

No restrictions.

Biographical / Historical

Jefferson Randolph Kean (June 27, 1860 - September 4, 1950) was a U.S. Army physician who was a leading authority in sanitation, public health, and tropical diseases. Later in his career, Kean became widely recognized for his role in organizing and administering medical services for the U.S. Armed Forces during World War I.

Jefferson Randolph Kean completed the medical program at the University of Virginia in 1883. He joined the U.S. Army Medical Corps in 1884, and after forty years in the service, retired with the rank of Colonel. Congress awarded him a promotion to Brigadier General, retired, in 1930. He spent the early years of his career in medical postings in the American West. Kean became an expert in tropical diseases and sanitation during his five-year assignment in the Florida tropics, an expertise which served him well over two terms of service later in Cuba. During the Spanish-American War and subsequent U. S. occupation of Cuba, Kean was Chief Surgeon for the Department of Havana, then Superintendent of the Department of Charities -- from 1898 to 1902. He was an early convert to Carlos Finlay's mosquito theory of transmission, which experiments by the Yellow Fever Board, headed by Walter Reed in Cuba, ultimately proved true in 1900-1901. After four years as an assistant to the Surgeon General in Washington, D.C., Kean returned to Cuba as an advisor to the Department of Sanitation from 1906-1909.

In addition to his career as a sanitarian, Kean organized the department of military relief of the American Red Cross, and during World War I served as Chief of the U.S. Ambulance Service with the French Army and Deputy Chief Surgeon of the American forces. He received a Distinguished Service Medal from the U.S. government and one of three Gorgas Medals awarded from the Association of Military Surgeons in 1942. A great, great-grandson of Thomas Jefferson, Kean also was on the government commission established to build the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C. He held a charter membership in the Walter Reed Memorial Association and remained active in its affairs until his death.


.5 Linear Feet


The items are arranged in chronological order.

Physical Location

Housed with small manuscript collections in the Claude Moore Health Sciences Library.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The items were donated in 1990 to the Claude Moore Health Sciences Library at the University of Virginia by the grandson of Jefferson Randolph Kean (1860-1950) who shares his name.

Physical Description

1 box with the dimensions of 5.5 inches x 10 inches x 15.5 inches, 3 folders


Processed by:
Historical Collections Staff
A Guide to the Jefferson Randolph Kean Gorgas Medal Collection, 1942-1943
Claude Moore Health Sciences Library
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Script of description
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Repository Details

Part of the Claude Moore Health Sciences Library Repository

Claude Moore Health Sciences Library
1300 Jefferson Park Avenue
P.O. Box 800722
Charlottesville Virginia 22908-0722 United States