Gage, Stephen DeM.


Dates:          b. 1874; 1890's 1910's; d. 1939

Locations:    Biologist, Lawrence Experiment Station and Massachusetts State Board of Health (1890's 1910's)

Training:      MIT under Sedgwick in 1896

Fields:          sanitation; water; BACT NOM; biology;

Publications: "Bacteriological Studies at the Lawrence Experiment Station with Special Reference to the Determination of B. Coli," 33rd Ann. Rept. of the Mass. Bd. of Health, 1901 (1902): 397 420; with Phelps, "On the Classification and Identification of Bacteria with Description of the Card System in Use at the Lawrence Experiment Station for Records of Species," Proc. Am. Pub. Health Association, 38 for 1902 (1903): 494 505; "The Quality of Water Supplies of Rhode Island, Present and Future," in The Water Resources of Rhode Island (Providence:  Oxford Press, 1928)

SAB Involvement:  Charter SAB member;


     Bug Club member.  Was one of the first to recommend and use a card and decimal system for the characterization and classification of bacteria.  They use the Fuller and Johnson system of pluses and minuses in tables to avoid the "verbose written descriptions of earlier investigators."

     Gage was listed, with Clark, on the first program of the SAB, in 1899, with the "Significance of the Appearance of B. Coli Communis in Filtered Waters."  The paper was, however, read by Clark.  At the 1902 meeting of the SAB, Gage reported "On the Relative Viability of B. Coli and B. Typhosus under Certain Conditions," a mostly technical paper relative to water bacteriology.  It was at the 1903 meeting that he suggested "Naming Species of Bacteria and the Indexing of Bacterial Names."  At the 1904 meeting of the SAB, he provided a technical discussion on "Laboratory Expedients."  The paper was devoted to the problem of increasing workloads placed on public health bacteriologists.  "The solution of this problem usually lies in systematizing the work and in the use of labor saving devices whereby the time consumed in routine work may be shorted."  His suggestions were discussed by Novy, Rosenberger, and Carroll.  At the 1905 meeting of the SAB, Gage and Stoughton submitted a paper on "A Study of the Laws Governing the Resistance of Bacillus Coli to Heat."  The paper also described (failed) attempts to produce a heat resistant variety of B. coli through successive selection.  It was read by title.

     Another example of the relationship between sanitary bacteriology and more fundamental issues was Gage's paper before the 1906 meeting of the SAB, "A Study of the Variation in the Biochemical Reactions produced by Cultures of the Colon Type."  The study sought to determine "how closely the variations in the intensity of certain biochemical functions of cultures usually included in the colon group by routine tests would agree with the law of biological variation."  Gage measured gas production, nitrate formation, etc. and found that variation was "normal," indicating that "the group was a true biological group and that the variations were normal biological variations." (807)  It was read by title and abstracts were distributed.

     Gage submitted another "Note on the Interpretation of a Bacterial Water Analysis," to the 1907 SAB, which was read in abstract.

     At the 1909 Boston SAB meeting, Gage reported on his "Methods for Testing Shellfish for Pollution," a mostly technical presentation.  He also described "Some Peculiarities in the Counts of Bacteria at 20 degrees C. and at 40 degrees C. from Waters Treated with Disinfectants."  Gage delivered another technical paper on "Studies of Media for the Quantitative Estimation of Bacteria in Water, Sewage, etc." in which he advocated using beef infusion of constant specific gravity as "a step toward media of more uniform composition, and toward increased accuracy in bacterial counts." (544)  Both papers were discussed by T. Smith, Pease, Conn, Rosenau, Winslow and Kinyoun.