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Dr. Charles and Dr. Lucia Dunham C&O Canal and cholera epidemic research materials collection

Identifier: MS2404

Scope and Contents

This collection contains correspondence, articles, books, maps, slides, photographs, and research notes related to the history of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal and especially the cholera epidemic and subsequent death of the laborers who build the canal for the years 1832-1850. They specifically mention outbreaks in 1832 and 1833 that had a disasterous impact on the immigrant laborers. Dr. Charles and Dr. Lucia Dunham focused their research efforts, at least what is documented in this collection, on locating burial sites in cemeteries along the canal. Within the folder Research notes are lists of cemeteries for canal workers from 1832-1850 that the Dunhams compiled. Much of the records in this collection have information in terms of research findings and also the slides and photographs related to this specific effort. These records date from 1835-1993 with the bulk covering the years between 1975-1976. The correspondence includes letters of introduction of the project and progress to those who the Dunhams thought could assist their research efforts.


  • 1832-1993
  • Majority of material found within 1971-1976


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

To the extent that he/she owns copyright, the donor has assigned the copyright in her works to The George Washington University; however, copyright in other items in this collection may be held by their respective creators. 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. Please contact Special Collections if the copyright status of the materials you wish to reuse is unclear. Staff will provide additional information.

For re-use of materials in the collection not created by the donor, 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. For such materials, researchers do not need anything further from The George Washington University’s Special Collections Research Center


Dr. Lucia Elizabeth Jordan Dunham (c. 1907-1994) received her medical degree from the University of Chicago and worked as an assistant in cancer research programs from 1938-1946. After moving with her family to Bethesda Maryland in 1949 Dr. Dunham worked as a professional assistant at hte National Research Council. After her retirement Dr. Dunham wrote poetry, was the director of the Mineralogical Society of Washington and spent time biking along and researching the history of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal.

Dr. Charles L. Dunham (1906 December 28 - 1975 December 07) served as the chairman of the division of biology and medicine of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission from 1955-1967. In that role he headed American research efforts on the effects of radiation. He was involved in several long-term studies of people who had survived the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Dr. Dunham was born in Evanston Illinois and graduated in 1933 from the University of Chicago medical college. After service in World War II he taught at the University of Chicago until moving to Bethesda Maryland and working for the Atomic Energy Commission.

Lucia and Charles were married June 22, 1932 and raised three children: George Stuart, Carol Jordan, Sara Gale.


1.25 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



This collection contains the research materials of Dr. Charles and Dr. Lucia Dunham related to their reseach of the cholera outbreaks that resulted in numerous dealths of the laborers who built the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal from 1832-1850. This research collection includes background history of the Canal and then specific records of burial sites in cemeteries along the Canal as well as correspondence in which Lucia Dunham describes the project. The records date from 1832-1993 with the bulk from 1975-1976.


Organized into 2 series: Research materials and Articles and books

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

Gift of Renee Dunham, 2023 May (Accession 2023.019)

Related Materials

Lost Labor: An Assessment of the Interpretation of Irish Canal Worker History and Archaeology at the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal by Hauber, Samuel David. Cultural Heritage and Resource Management Master of Professional Studies 2022 University of Maryland, College Park


Guide to the Dr. Charles and Dr. Lucia Dunham C&O Canal and cholera epidemic research materials collection, 1832-1993
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