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Schapiro family papers

Identifier: MS2391-UA

Scope and Contents

This collection contains photographs, correspondence, ephemera, newspaper clippings, painted illustrations, and medical records. The material ranges from 1907-1961. These are the records from Dr. Louis Schapiro during his overseas work and travels in South and Central America, the Middle East, and Asia. Schapiro worked on improving public health conditions in these regions. Some of Dr. Louis Schapiro's records were compiled from his son, Dr. Mark M. Schapiro. There are also records that pertain to Dr. Mark Schapiro's work in Central America, as well as material pertaining to Dr. Mark Schapiro's personal life, education, and work.


  • 1904-1961


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Materials in this collection may be governed by copyright. For activities that the researcher determines fall under fair use as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission to cite or publish is required. Researchers are responsible for determining who may hold materials' copyrights, determining if the intended re-use falls under fair use, and obtaining approval from the copyright holder if the intended use does not fall under fair use. Please contact Special Collections if the copyright status of the materials you wish to reuse is unclear. Staff will provide additional information.

Biographical / Historical

Dr. Louis Schapiro (May 24, 1886-February 4, 1931) was a medical doctor who served as an international public health and sanitation expert. Schapiro attended the George Washington University School of Medicine, earning his degree in 1903. In 1907, he was appointed Assistant Surgeon for the US Coast and Geodetic Survey in the Philippines (some sources list the name of his ship as the “Pathfinder,” while others reference the “Fathomer.”). In 1910, he resigned to become the Director of Medical Inspection for the Health Department in Manila. While there, he established Bontoc Hospital.

In 1914, Schapiro joined the Rockefeller Foundation as Field Director for the International Health Division. His first posting was in Costa Rica, where he worked to establish a national health service. Schapiro also spent time in Colombia, where he undertook a preliminary public health survey, before moving to Panama. There, he helped organize Panama’s department of hygiene and public health.

Schapiro’s last international posting was Health Adviser to the Siamese (now Thai) government. He established the Demonstration Health Unit at the Bangrak Health Center and worked to improve sanitation conditions in the country. It was in Bangkok that Schapiro died of heart disease on February 4, 1932. While their domicile was listed as Panama City, Panama, on official death paperwork, Schapiro’s wife Matilde was present in Thailand at his death.

Louis Schapiro was born in Russia on May 24, 1886. He came to the United States around 1890 and emigrated to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where his father had settled previously.Louis Schapiro married Matilde “Matie” Meyer, and their son Mark Meyer Schapiro was born on November 2, 1913 in Milwaukee. In addition to his medical degree from GW, Schapiro also earned a Doctorate in Public Health from Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health in 1923. Schapiro’s work in Central and South America was praised by Costa Rican newspapers after his death. “La Tribuna” wrote (as translated from the original Spanish) on February 6, 1932 that Schapiro’s “ is inseparably linked with the progress of the sanitary campaigns destined to stamp out...the endemic diseases...undermining the health of our people.”

Dr. Mark Meyer Schapiro was the son of Mathilde Schapiro and Dr. Louis Schapiro. In 1930, he graduated from Balboa High School in Panama. He attended the University of Chicago, circa 1933, and later the George Washington University Medical College in the mid- to late-1930s. He also attended Johns Hopkins circa 1938. He was a medical doctor, and worked for a time in Honduras.


4 Linear Feet (1 record center box, 3 flat boxes)

Language of Materials


Spanish; Castilian




This collection contains contains scrapbooks, photographs, and other materials from Dr. Louis Schapiro and his son, Dr. Mark M. Schapiro. The material ranges in date from 1904-1961 and pertains to the Schapiros' educational, professional, and personal lives, with a focus on the Schapiros' travels.


These items are arranged by size, within each box, items are arranged chronologically. Date ranges included in the titles of objects do not necessarily correspond to the date range of material found within the object. The titles of object retain the date range written by the creator, but the accurate date range is described in the dates field of the archival record.

Physical Location

Materials are stored off-site, and will require additional retrieval time. Please contact the Special Collections Research Center for more information.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Transferred by Himmelfarb Health Sciences Library, 2003 August 1 (2003.001)

Guide to the Schapiro family papers, 1907-1960
In Progress
Special Collections Research Center, The George Washington University
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Research Center, The George Washington University Repository

2130 H Street NW
Washington 20052 United States of America