National History Day

Public Health


To maintain a strong fighting force, the Army has taken measures to keep Soldiers healthy. During the Revolutionary War, General George Washington required that Soldiers receive smallpox inoculations. A century later, Maj. Walter Reed’s Yellow Fever Commission identified how the disease spread. This discovery reduced the number of cases around the world.

Innovations such as vaccinations, penicillin, and the ambulance system, led to turning points in civilian society.

Why is it important to have a healthy Army?

How did the Army’s disease prevention efforts foster turning points in public health?

What are ethical considerations with military medical developments?

Soldier Stories

Clara Barton
James Craik
Hazel Johnson-Brown
Jonathan Letterman
Aleda E. Lutz
Anita Newcomb McGee
Della Raney
Walter Reed
Julia Catherine Stimson
George Washington


General George Washington’s letter mandating smallpox inoculation
Civil War Medical Innovations