Gates of Bellevue Hospital

Civil War fair to raise money for the Union Army, 1864

NYU professors of medicine were instrumental in the establishment of New York City’s Health Department. During the Civil War, Dr. W. H. Martin Van Buren, Professor of Anatomy at the University Medical College since 1852, assumed leadership in the organization of the United States Sanitary Commission. Under the auspices of the Commission a series of monographs, many of which were authored by NYU surgeons, were published for the use of the Army surgeons. Following the war, many Medical College faculty members continued their efforts to improve sanitation in the city by joining the newly formed Council on Hygiene and Public Health. The report of this Council, referred to as the "Magna Carta of municipal sanitation" in the United States, led to the 1866 establishment of the New York City Health Department.

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