Pioneers in Public Health The NYU - Bellevue Contribution

The United States Sanitary Commission

Dr. William Holmes Van Buren, a surgeon and teacher at the NYU Medical Department, was a key figure in the United States Sanitary Commission, a civilian organization that provided much needed support to sick and wounded soldiers and their families during the American Civil War. Through the Commission’s efforts, money was raised to provide donations of much needed supplies to soldiers on the battlefield, in addition to providing volunteer nurses and doctors to aid with medical relief efforts. Dr. Van Buren’s contributions include the 1861 publishing of a series of monographs for Army surgeons, including his own Rules for Preserving the Health of the Soldier, which set standards of care for surgeons on the battlefield.

Dr. Van Buren would remain keenly interested in public health after the war, serving as the founding member of New York City’s Council of Hygiene and Public Health.