Collection OH037 - Crawford F. Sams Oral History


Reference code


Level of description



Crawford F. Sams Oral History


  • 5/3/1979 (Creation)


0.05 Linear Feet

Name of creator


Biographical history

Crawford F. Sams, was born in East St. Louis, Illinois on April 1, 1902. He received his Bachelor of Science degree with a major in psychology at the University of California; a Master of Science degree in neuroanatomy at Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri, and received his M.D. degree at Washington University, St. Louis, in 1929.

In January, 1922, he enlisted as a private in the 159th Infantry, California National Guard, and was commissioned second lieutenant in the Infantry in 1923. He was transferred to the 143rd Field Artillery and subsequently promoted to the grade of captain in 1925. While on active duty, he graduated from the Field Artillery School at Fort Sill in 1925. He resigned in December, 1925 to study medicine at Washington University.

While a student at the medical school, he was re-commissioned as first lieutenant, Field Artillery Reserve. He was commissioned first lieutenant, Medical Corps, upon receiving his M.D. degree in 1929 and ordered to active duty at Letterman General Hospital, where he completed his internship in July 1930, after which he accepted a commission in the regular Army Medical Corps. Sams had a distinguished military career, serving in the United States, in Panama, in the Middle East, in Europe, and in the Far East during World War II.

Sams was the Chief of the Public Health and Welfare Section, General Headquarters, Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers (SCAP) in Japan after World War II and fulfilled a similar role in the military government of South Korea during the Korean War. He eventually attained the rank of Brigadier General.

Scope and content

Sams discusses his decision to pursue a medical degree at the Washington University School of Medicine, his interest in neurosurgery, and the influence of faculty member Ernest Sachs. He describes his research on heat syndrome while assigned to the Panama Canal Department and talks extensively about his work during the Second World War in the Middle East, Europe, and the Far East in preparing medical services for casualties. At the end of the Second World War Sams was made Chief of the Public Health and Welfare Section of the General Headquarters, Supreme Command Allied Powers and was responsible for the establishment of all activities pertaining to the health and welfare of the Japanese. Sams relates his contributions in the rebuilding Japan, including studying the effects of radiation after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, establishing mass immunization programs, improving medical care and education, and nutrition initiatives during this period. He also describes similar work he performed in Korea before, during and after the Korean War. Sams then discusses his research on low-level radiation at the Operations Research Center at the University of California-Berkeley, as well as the early efforts in the application of computer systems to biological research. The audio quality of the interview is inconsistent and at times very poor. There are several instances of unintelligible words or sentences. Interviewed by Darryl Podoll on May 3, 1979. OH037. Approximate Length 112 minutes.

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Conditions governing access

The collection is open and accessible for research.

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Conditions governing reproduction

Users of the collection should read and abide by the Rights and Permissions guidelines at the Bernard Becker Medical Library Archives.

Users of the collection who wish to cite items from this collection, in whole or in part, in any form of publication must request, sign, and return a Statement of Use form to the Archives.

For detailed information regarding use of this collection, contact the Archives and Rare Book Department of the Becker Library (

Preferred Citation:

Item description, Reference Code, Bernard Becker Medical Library Archives, Washington University in St. Louis.

Languages of the material

  • English

Scripts of the material

  • Latin

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"Describing Archives: A Content Standard, Second Edition (DACS), 2013."

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© Copyright 2019 Bernard Becker Medical Library Archives. All rights reserved.

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