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Louis L. Williams Papers 1910-1970
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Biography

Biographical Note

Louis Laval Williams, Jr., was born Feb. 21, 1889 in Hampton, Va., and died May 6, 1967 in Bethesda, MD. For the majority of his professional life, Dr. Williams worked to eliminate malaria around the world. He retired from the U.S. Public Health Service in 1953 with the rank of Medical Director. The last five years of his career he served as Chief of the Division of International Health. He was a delegate to numerous international health conferences, most notably the 1946 New York conference at which the World Health Organization was established. He was also a long-time member of the Gorgas Memorial Institute.

He attended the University of Virginia for his undergraduate and medical degrees, graduating with the M.D. in 1913. Two years later he was commissioned in the PHS and became a specialist in malarial control. During World War I, Dr. Williams was assigned anti-malarial control work at military camps throughout the southern U.S. He continued his field studies after the war, and in 1926 he was put in charge of the PHS's malarial investigations, which he headed until 1940. During his years as Director, he implemented countrywide malaria screening studies and developed several methods of eliminating mosquito breeding grounds. As part of his fieldwork, Dr. Williams established local health departments wherever he worked. In 1937, he devised a model state health department organizational scheme for controlling malaria, employing a three-pronged attack incorporating the medical, entomological and engineering professions. Twelve southern states adopted his program.

In late 1939, Dr. Williams was detailed to organize and head a malaria control team to the China-Burma Highway where he spent six months educating Chinese medical and entomological officers. During World War II he organized and directed malaria and venereal disease control operations for Army camps in the U.S. and Puerto Rico under the auspices of the Malaria Control in War Areas program. In addition he also organized a public health mission to Liberia comprised entirely of African-Americans.

After his retirement in 1953, Dr. Williams served on numerous international public health commissions and traveled throughout South America working to further eliminate malaria. He also worked to recruit young American physicians to take up international health work. He retired from the Pan-American Health Organization in 1963 after nine years of service. He spent his life working in public service and died as one of the world's experts on malarial control.