Gehrmann, Adolph



Dates:          b. 1868; 1894 at U. Ill.; retired 1920; died 1923 (Who Was Who in America I, 1943, has death date of 1920.)

Locations:    University of Illinois, Prof. Bacteriology, College of Physicians and Surgeons; and Bacteriologist, Columbus Medical Laboratories (1890's); Chicago Health Dept. Labs (1893‑1902); Cook County Hospital

Training:      MD Chicago Medical College, 1890 under Holmes

Fields:          medical; hygiene; public health

Publications:Serum Diagnosis of Typhoid Fever 1897; Milk Inspection in Chicago 1893; Relations of the Health Department to Diphtheria 1899; Efficacy of the Fumigation Method 1900; Remarks on Railroad Car Disinfection 1900; Immunity as a Factor in Prevention 1901; Rapid Preliminary Testing of Water 1913; The Handkerchief as a Sanitary Appliance 1916; Counting of Bacteria on Surfaces 1913; Bacteriology of the Grippe Epidemic 1916

SAB Involvement:  Charter SAB member; Archive Files: 2-IXC, folder 73, "History of Bacteriology at the University of Illinois, Colleges of Medicine, Dentistry, and Pharmacy," by Milan Novak 1951; See also, Encyclopedia of American Biography for 1912.


     Appointed first "Professor of Bacteriology" in 1894; director of the Chicago Health Dept. Laboratories; and bacteriologist at Cook County Hospital.  Involved with Chicago Drainage Canal, and founded the Chicago Bureau of Food Inspection of which he was superintendent.  The EAB claims that he was "among the first to trace the indisputable connection between unhygienic conditions of living, carelessness in the protection of sources of food and water supply, neglect in their handling and distribution and the diseases....He preached the gospel of cleanliness as the first requisite of health... (He had a vision) that children should grow to maturity unhandicapped by physical conditions for which they were not responsible and which they could not improve." (5)

     In his Handkerchief study, he argued that they were a "nuisance to collect any kind of excrement about us and store it."   He chastised ladies who wiped the eyes of a lap‑dog, put the hanky back into a bag and then wave them in the wind in the presence of others.  "I think this distinctly dangerous, and the only waving of handkerchiefs that I would allow is when newlywed couples go away on the train and wave the handkerchief out the car window."  (8)

     While at the Dept. of Health Gehrmann mostly performed milk analysis and routine diphtheria examinations.   He also produced diphtheria antitoxin in 1894, and started water examinations in 1895, along with ice samples, and checks on smallpox vaccines and Widal tests.  He published a series of article dealing with the newly developed agglutination methods for diagnosis of typhoid fever, laboratory tests of smallpox vaccine, and for the control of the bacterial content of milk.  He authors one of the key reports for the "Streams Examinations" document used in the court case between Illinois and Missouri.

     At the 1900 meeting of the SAB, Gehrmann submitted "The Effect of Salt Solution and other Fluids on Bacteria Compared with Serum Reactions," which was read by title.