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George M. Kober Papers

Identifier: GTM-GAMMS75

Collection-level Scope and Content Note

The George M. Kober Papers consist of correspondence sent and received by. Kober dating primarily from 1897 through 1900. Correspondents include several of the presidents of Georgetown University, such as David H. Buel,S.J.; Charles W. Lyons, S.J.; W . Coleman Nevils, S.J.; and J. Havens Richards, S.J. Others include various city (D.C.) and federal government officials, as well as notable names in the medical, public health, and science fields - David Du Bose Gaillard, George M. Sternberg, Joseph R.Hawley, W.J. McGee, and William H. Welch. In addition, the collection contains subject files on Dr. Kober's anniversary celebrations (70th and 80th birthdays), correspondence and eulogies concerning his death, honorary degree citations from Georgetown University, as well as biographical information - particularly the biographical piece written by Francis A. Tondorf, S.J., in honor of Dr.Kober's seventieth birthday, 'Biography and Bibliography of George M.Kober' (March 28, 1920). The last folder in the collection contains newsclippings collected on Dr. Kober, providing especially useful information on his death. *

Bulk dates: 1897-1900 Span dates: 1892-1963 Extent: 0.25 linear feet.


  • 1892 - 1963
  • Majority of material found within 1897 - 1900

Collection-level Access Restrictions

Most manuscripts collections at the Georgetown University Booth Family Center for Special Collections are open to researchers; however, restrictions may apply to some collections. Collections stored off site require a minimum of three days for retrieval. For use of all manuscripts collections, researchers are advised to contact the Booth Family Center for Special Collections in advance of any visit.

Biographical note

George Martin Kober was born on March 28, 1850 at Alsfeld, Hesse-Darmstadt, Germany to Johann Jacob Kober and Johanna Dorothea Bar. He received his early education at the Grosshevzogliche Realschule in Alsfeld, but emigrated in 1866 to the U.S. at the insistence of his father who did not favor the thought of his son serving under the German principality. Kober joined his brother at Carlisle Barracks in Pennsylvania, where the latter had joined as a soldier. In August 1867, Kober began work under the surgeon Joseph J.B. Wright at the barracks hospital. With the assistance of Dr .Wright, Kober was soon promoted as hospital steward, by which time he had decided on a career in medicine. He was next ordered to the Frankford Arsenal near Philadelphia, where he studied with Dr. Robert Bruce Burns. In 1871, Kober was assigned to the office of the surgeon general of the U.S. Army in Washington, D.C., and began evening courses at the Georgetown University School of Medicine, studying under Jonson Eliot, M.D. and Robert Rayburn, M.D. He received his M.D. degree from Georgetown in 1873. In the same year, Dr. Kober was the first to complete the postgraduate course instituted by Harry J. Thompson, M.D. and Samuel C. Busey, M.D., at the Columbia Hospital for Women, Washington, D.C.

In July, 1874, Dr. Kober was appointed acting assistant surgeon, U.S. Army, then post surgeon at Alcatraz Island in California. His next appointment was post surgeon at Fort McDermott until July 1877. He participated infield expeditions in northeastern Nevada against the Indians, 1875; in Idaho concerning the Nez Perce Indian tribe; and was in charge of the field hospital at Kamiah on the Clearwater, Idaho, from July to October 1877. Dr.Kober was then post surgeon at Fort Coeur d'Alene from November 1877 to November 1870; at Fort Klamath, Oregon until June 1880; and at Fort Bidwell, California from 1882 to 1888. In late 1888, Dr. Kober returned to Georgetown University when he was appointed as professor of state medicine, and then as professor of hygiene in 1890. In August of the latter year, he was elected a member of the tenth International Medical Congress. He returned briefly to Fort Bidwell in December 1890, but established permanent residence in Washington by 1894.

Dr. Kober became dean of the Georgetown School of Medicine in 1901, in which capacity he served until 1928, marking the longest tenure in the history of the deanship at the time. From 1916 until his death, he was a member of the consultant staff at virtually every hospital in the Washington area: the Children's Hospital, Georgetown University Hospital,and of Gallinger Municipal Hospital (later, D.C. General Hospital). He was a member of many associations in the profession, such as the American Medical Association, American Association for the Advancement of science, Association of American Physicians, Association of Military surgeons, Washington Academy of Sciences, and the American College of physicians; and a president of such organizations as the National association for the Study and Prevention of Tuberculosis, National housing Association, Medical and Surgical Society of the District of Columbia, Washington Anthropological Society, Association of American Medical Colleges . Dr. Kober was a pioneer in the study of tuberculosis and designed the Tuberculosis Hospital in Washington, D.C. He brought unprecedented attention to the pollution of the Potomac River as a cause of typhoid in the Washington area. He is credited with the first published report on the use of iodine as an antiseptic and was a principal promoter of the Washington Sanitary Improvement Company, which offered a 5 percent investment and provided moderate income families with sanitary homes at a reasonable cost.

A prolific writer, Dr. Kober published some 200 articles on hygiene, disease prevention, and philanthropy. Among the most noteworthy are:'Urology and Is Practical Application' (1874); 'Milk in Relation to public Health' (1902); 'Industrial Hygiene and Social Betterment' (1908).In addition, he also wrote his autobiography, of which the first volume was complete and published in 1930 and entitled, 'Reminiscences of George Martin Kober, M.D., LL.D.' Georgetown University honored Dr. Kober with the presentation of an honorary degree in 1906 for an LL.D. and in 1923 for an Litt.D . In 1923, to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of his graduation from Georgetown University, Dr. Kober established a fund that would support, among other projects, a scholarship to the School of Medicine and an annual lecture known as the Kober lecture given by outstanding professionals in medicine.The first lecture was given in 1925.

Dr. Kober died of heart disease in his Washington home on April 24, 1931.


0.25 Linear Feet (1 box)

Language of Materials


George M. Kober Papers
Georgetown University Library Booth Family Center for Special Collections
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
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Repository Details

Part of the Georgetown University Manuscripts Repository

Lauinger Library, 5th Floor
37th and O Streets, N.W.
Washington DC 20057