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Thomas Milton Rivers, MD

Born: September 3, 1868
Died: May 12, 1962

Major Contribution:

Rivers was known as the father of modern virology, in part due to his 1927 publication called Filterable Viruses A Critical Review. He played a critical role in the medical activities of the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis (NFIP) as their "leading scientific spirit." He was the interpreter of science to the Foundations's administration and fund raisers and the science writers of the time. He assumed the chairmanship of the NFIP's Committee on Scientific Research in 1938 and was involved with the organization until his death in 1962.

Other Information:

Brief Biography: Born in rural Georgia in 1868, he attended Emory University and received his medical degree from Johns Hopkins.  His career was influenced by World War I as a member of "The Pneumonia Board." After the war, he joined the Hospital of the Rockefeller Institute, where he remained for 33 years. His career with the NFIP started as a member of the Advisory Medical Committee of the President’s Birthday Ball Commission for Infantile Paralysis Research (1937). He was known for being outspoken and was "generous and effective in imparting advice." 

Location of papers:
American Philosophical Society
105 South Fifth Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106-3386

Description of papers: The 10 linear feet of correspondence, manuscripts, and photographs of the Thomas M. Rivers Papers contain correspondence, laboratory notes, speeches, and photographs documenting Rivers’ activities at the Rockefeller Institute, the development of polio vaccine, and Rivers’ Navy experience in the Pacific during World War II.

Major Articles: Thomas Milton Rivers, MD

Articles found at HighWire Press® Stanford University (*Asterisk denotes article is free of subscription fee.)

Filterable Viruses A Critical Review.* T. M. Rivers. J. Bacteriol., Oct 1927; 14: 217 - 258.

Ultra-Violet Light And Vaccine Virus: Ii. The Effect Of Monochromatic Ultra-Violet Light Upon Vaccine Virus. Thomas M. Rivers and Frederick L. Gates. J. Exp. Med., Jan 1928; 47: 45 - 49.

Ultra-violet light and vaccine virus: i. the reaction of irradiated skin to vaccine virus.* Thomas M. Rivers, Henry Stevens, and Frederick L. Gates. J. Exp. Med., Jan 1928; 47: 37 - 44.

Cultivation Of Vaccine Virus.* C. P. Li and T. M. Rivers. J. Exp. Med., Oct 1930; 52: 465 - 470. Viruses. T. M. Rivers. Science, Jun 1932; 75: 654 - 656.

The Nature Of Viruses. Thomas M. Rivers. Physiol Rev, Jul 1932; 12: 423 - 452.

Observations On The Immunological Relation Of Poliomyelitis To Louping Ill. * F. F. Schwentker, Thomas M. Rivers, and M. H. Finkelstein. J. Exp. Med., Jun 1933; 57: 955 - 965.

Immunity in Virus Diseases With Particular Reference to Poliomyelitis. * Thomas M. Rivers. Am J Public Health, Feb 1936; 26: 136 - 142.

Viruses and Koch's Postulates.* Thomas M. Rivers. J. Bacteriol., Jan 1937; 33: 1 - 12.

Constituents Of Elementary Bodies Of Vaccinia: Vi. Studies On The Nature Of The Enzymes Associated With The Purified Virus.* Charles L. Hoagland, S. M. Ward, Joseph E. Smadel, and Thomas M. Rivers. J. Exp. Med., Aug 1942; 76: 163 - 173.

Leslie Tillotson Webster 1894-1943. J. CASALS and T. M. Rivers. Science, Aug 1943; 98: 167.

Letter to the Editor.* Thomas M. Rivers. Am J Public Health, Aug 1958; 48: 1069 - 1070.

Articles Found at ScienceDirect.com

Introduction To The National Foundation Conference On Congenital Malformations. Thomas M. Rivers. Journal of Chronic Diseases, Volume 10, Issue 2, August 1959, page 83.

Articles found at JSTOR

Epidemic Diseases. Thomas M. Rivers. Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, Vol. 91, No. 1 (Feb., 1947), pp. 88-94. Stable URL: http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0003-049X%2819470225%2991%3A1%3C88%3AED...

Viral and Rickettsial Infections of Man. Reviewed by Walter C. Tobie. The Quarterly Review of Biology, Vol. 24, No. 2 (Jun., 1949), p. 166. Stable URL: http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0033-5770%28194906%2924%3A2%3C166%3AVAR...

The Story of Research on Poliomyelitis. Thomas M. Rivers. Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, Vol. 98, No. 4 (Aug., 1954), pp. 250-254. Stable URL: http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0003-049X%2819540816%2998%3A4%3C250%3AT...

Two Comments on "Smooth Things: The Rockefeller Commission's Report on the Humanities." Thomas M. Rivers; Don Roy Thomassen. College English, Vol. 44, No. 3 (Mar., 1982), pp. 321-323. Stable URL: http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0010-0994%28198203%2944%3A3%3C321%3ATCO...

Viral and Rickettsial Infections of Man. Thomas M. Rivers; Frank L. Horsfall, Jr.

Bacterial and Mycotic Infections of Man. Rene J. Dubos. Reviewed by Philip E. Hartman. The Quarterly Review of Biology, Vol. 34, No. 2 (Jun., 1959), pp. 182-183. Stable URL: http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0033-5770%28195906%2934%3A2%3C182%3AVAR...

From the American Philosophical Society

Tom Rivers, Reflections on a Life in Medicine and Science: An oral History Memoir. Rivers, Thomas. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT, 1967.

Thomas M. Rivers. Horshall, Frank L. Biographical Memoirs of the National Academy of Sciences 38 (1965), 262-294.

Tom Rivers: Reflections on a Life in Medicine and Science. Saul Benison. MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass, & London 1967. Obituary of Thomas M. Rivers. Shope, Richard E. Journal of Bacteriology 84 (1962), 385-388.

From PubMed

Immunity In Virus Infections. Rivers TM. Science. 1942 Jan 30;95 (2457):107-112. No abstract available.

The Infinitely Small In Biology. Rivers TM. Science. 1941 Feb 14;93(2407):143-145. No abstract available.

From WorldCat™

Epidemic Respiratory Disease; The Pneumonias And Other Infections Of The Respiratory Tract Accompanying Influenza And Measles. Eugene Lindsay Opie; Francis Gilman Blake; James Craig Small; Thomas Milton Rivers. Publisher: St. Louis, C.V. Mosby, 1921. Located at 41 libraries.

Viruses, General Articles, 1927-1937 ; And, Vaccinia, Reprints, 1929-1937. Thomas M Rivers. 1927-1937. Located at Duke University, Medical Center Library, Durham. Filterable Viruses. Harold L Amoss; Thomas Milton Rivers. London: Baillière, Tindall & Cox, 1928. Located at 15 libraries.

Filterable Viruses. Thomas M Rivers. Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins, 1928. Located at 134 libraries.

Lane Medical Lectures: Viruses And Virus Diseases. Thomas M Rivers; Lane medical lectures. Stanford University, Calif., Stanford University Press; London, H. Milford, Oxford University Press, 1939. Located at 84 libraries.

Viruses And Virus Diseases. Thomas Milton Rivers. Stanford University, California Stanford University Press, 1939. Located at 19 libraries.

Problems And Trends In Virus Research. Thomas M Rivers; Wendell M Stanley; W A Sawyer; Thomas Francis; Richard Edwin Shope; Joseph Stokes; Geoffrey William Rake. University of Pennsylvania. Bicentennial Conference. Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1941.  Located at 45 libraries.

Virus Diseases. Thomas M Rivers; Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research. Ithaca, N.Y., Cornell University Press, 1943. Located at 152 libraries.

Viral And Rickettsial Diseases Of Man. Thomas M Rivers. Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1948. Located at Universiteit Utrecht, Utrecht, 3584 CS Netherlands.

Frontiers In Medicine The March Of Medicine, 1950. New York Academy of Medicine. Book : Microform. New York: Columbia University Press, 1951. Located at Mississippi Library Commission. Jackson, MS; Southern University Library Baton Rouge, LA; Appalachian State University Boone, NC; Corefiche Beaver Falls, PA; Geneva College Beaver Falls, PA; RWC~Golisano Library Rochester, NY; Saint Michael's College Library Colchester, VT; Nova Southeastern University Ft Lauderdale, FL .

Information For Physicians On The Salk Poliomyelitis Vaccine. Thomas M Rivers; National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis. Serial Publication New York, NY: National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, 1957. Located at University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS; University of N Carolina, Health Science Library Chapel Hill, NC; Yale University Library New Haven, CT; Yale University Medical Library, New Haven, CT; Harvard University, Medical School, Countway Library, Boston, MA .

Viral And Rickettsial Infections Of Man. Thomas M Rivers; Frank Lappin Horsfall. Philadelphia, Lippincott .1959. Located at 411 libraries for all 3 editions.

Conference On Congenital Malformations : Held Under The Auspices Of The National Foundation. Thomas Milton Rivers; National Foundation. St. Louis : The Foundation, 1959. Located at Texas Wesleyan University, West Library. Ft Worth, TX; University of Alabama, Bham, Health Science Birmingham, AL; Univ College Dublin Dublin, 4 Ireland; Bibliotheque Univ Lyon I, Sante-Rcon Paris, 75015 France; Bibliotheque Universitaire Lyon-Sante Lyon Cedex 08, 69373 France.

Viral And Rickettsial Infections Of Man. Thomas M Rivers; Frank Lappin Horsfall. London: Pitman, 1959. Located at Queen's Univ, Science Library Belfast, BT9 5EQ United Kingdom; British Library Wetherby, W Yorkshire, LS23 7BQ United Kingdom; University of Oxford, Oxford, OX1 3LU United Kingdom; Cambridge University, Cambridge, CB3 9DR United Kingdom; London Borough of Harrow, Harrow, HA1 2UU United Kingdom; Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Ba, Alexandria, Egypt; Univ Stellenbosch, J S Gericke Library, Matieland, 7602 South Africa.

Reflections On A Life In Medicine And Science. Tom Rivers; Saul Benison. Cambridge, MA:  MIT, 1967. Located at Universiteit Utrecht, Utrecht, 3584 CS Netherlands; Universiteit Maastricht, Maastricht, 6211 JH Netherlands.

Research in the Expanded Program of the National Foundation. Thomas Rivers. Journal of the National Medical Association, July 1960, 251.

Key word suggestions for additional publication searches: National Institute for Infantile Paralysis, March of Dimes, virology, bacteriology, poliomyelitis, Rockefeller Institute, parainfluenzae bacillus, cultivated vaccine virus, Naval Medical Research Unit.


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