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Latinos in History
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Name of History Maker
Carlos Juan Finlay

Facts About This Person:
  • Born:December 3, 1833
  • Died:August 20, 1915 (aged 81)
  • was a Cuban physician
  • Finlay was born Juan Carlos Finlay y Barres, in Puerto Príncipe (now Camagüey)
  • He reversed the order of his given names to "Carlos Juan" later in his life.
  • In 1853 he attended Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
  • He graduated in 1855

Why Are The Person's Contributions or Accomplishments Important?

The Essay:

Tyler Field 4/26/2014
Incarnation Catholic School 7-A
Carlos Juan Finlay

Carlos Juan Finlay was born on December 3rd, 1833 in Puerto Principe, Cuba. Born

as Juan Carlos Finlay y Barres, he later changed his name to Carlos Juan Finlay. He

was of French and Scottish descent. He graduated from Jefferson Medical College in

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1855. He became a scientist and doctor. He started his

practice as a doctor in Havana. He was known as a kind man, because he took patients

who could not afford a doctor’s care.

In 1879, he was picked by the Cuban government to assist the North American

Commission to research how the disease known as yellow fever spreads. He was

selected as a Cuban delegate to attend the Fifth International Sanitary Conference in

Washington DC. In 1881, he was the first to find that the mosquito was how yellow fever

was passed to a healthy human. In his research, the mosquito was a carrier and they

could bite a healthy person who would end up with yellow fever. He some twenty years

later would become famous for this discovery.

Dr. Finlay had proven through many experiments and extensive research his theory

about yellow fever, but other scientists and doctors ignored his discovery and did not

believe him. He knew if the mosquito population was controlled that there would not be

an outbreak of the deadly disease.

It took twenty years for another doctor to believe in Dr. Finlay’s theory. In 1900, Dr.

Walter Reed verified that Dr. Finlay’s theory was correct. Dr. Reed was given acclaim for

discovering the cause of yellow fever. Many history books show Dr. Reed as the finder

of the spread of yellow fever. Dr. Reed used many of Dr. Finlay’s research in

his books. Dr. Reed always made sure to give Dr. Finlay full credit as being the docotor

who initially researched and discovered for the spread of yellow fever.

A United States military governor, General Leonard Wood, stated “ The confirmation of

Dr. Finlay’s doctrine is the greatest step forward made in medical science since

Jenner’s discovery of the vaccination [ for smallpox ]” (Wikipedia).

Other places in Central America realized the importance of Dr. Finlay’s discovery

especially when the Panama Canal was being built in Panama City. His research

stopped many deaths related to the disease before 1903. Nearly ten percent of people

were killed by yellow fever and malaria diseases. After 1903, once the mosquitoes were

controlled from spreading to healthy humans there were a lot less deaths and the

Panama Canal was completed.

Dr. Finlay spoke many languages. He spoke French, German, Spanish and English.

He also was able to read Latin. He has extensive interests with so many other subjects.

He wrote articles on gravity, leprosy, cholera and plant disease. His primary interest

always remained as yellow fever. He wrote over forty articles in reference to the


He has a Cuban stamp in honor of him from 1981. In Havana, a syringe shaped

monument honors him. Another statue honors him and sits in Panama City at the

bayfront. There is an award called the UNESCO Carlos J. Finlay Prize to remember

him. He never won the Noble Prize of Physiology or Medicine, but was nominated

seven times.

“Finlay was a member of Havana’s Royal Academy of Medical, Physical and Natural

Sciences” (Wikipedia). In 1902 to 1909 Dr. Finlay was Chief Health Officer of Cuba.

In 1908, while serving as Chief Health Officer of Cuba, Dr. Finlay was awarded the

National Order of the Legion of Honor of France.

Doctor Carlos Juan Finlay died on August 20th, 1915, at the age of eighty-one years


"Carlos Juan Finlay." Finlay, Carlos Juan. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 May 2014.FactMonster helped me out with the information that wasn't on the other web sights.

"Carlos Finlay." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 05 Jan. 2014. Web. 02 May 2014.I got most of my information from Wikipedia and there were a lot of good information. It was more detailed information.

The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. "Carlos J. Finlay (Cuban Physician)." Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d. Web. 02 May 2014.They gave a lot of detailed information like wikipedia. If you used all the information from wikipedia, this would be the second site i would go to.