Gorgas, Ferdinand James Samuel

One of the pioneers of modern dentistry, Gorgas was born in northern Virginia. After a Dickinson degree in 1854, he attended dental school in Baltimore, taught there, and then took his MD at the University of Maryland in 1863. He served as a surgeon in the Union Army during the war and after became founding dean of the Maryland University Dental School.
Life Span
Dickinson Connection
Class of 1854
    Full name
    Ferdinand James Samuel Gorgas
    Place of Birth
    Birth Date Certainty
    Death Date Certainty
    Sectional choice
    Slave State
    No. of Spouses
    John DeLancy Gorgas (father), Mary Ann Gorgas (mother), Anna E. Swormstedt (wife)
    Dickinson (Carlisle College)
    Other Education
    Baltimore College of Dental Surgery; University of Maryland
    Doctor, Dentist or Nurse
    Other Occupation
    Union Army

    Ferdinand James Samuel Gorgas (Dickinson Chronicles)

    Ferdinand Gorgas was born in Winchester, Virginia to John DeLancy and Mary Ann Gorgas on July 27, 1835.  He prepared for his undergraduate years at the Dickinson College Grammar School in Carlisle, Pennsylvania and then entered the college proper with the class of 1854 in the autumn of 1850.  Gorgas was elected to the Belles Lettres Society and graduated with his class.  Following commencement, he entered the Baltimore College of Dental Surgery, earning his D.D.S. in 1855.

    In 1857, Gorgas took up a faculty position - termed at the time "demonstrator of Mechanical Dentistry" - at his old dental college. In 1860 he was promoted to full professor, succeeding the school's founder, Chapin Harris.  Aware of the importance of medicine to dentistry, he also studied simultaneously at the University of Maryland. Gorgas gained his M.D. in 1863, completing his thesis on "the fracture of bones."  He then enlisted in the United States Army as an assistant surgeon and served until the end of the Civil War.  On his return in 1865, Gorgas was named as dean of the Baltimore College of Dental Surgery. He remained there until 1882, when he accepted the post of founding dean and professor of dental science in the new dental school at the University of Maryland.  Gorgas published prolifically and is remembered as one of the pioneers of modern dentistry. His major work was Dental Medicine, A Manual of Dental Materia Medica and Therapeutics, drawn from years of classroom lectures. It was first published in 1884 and reprinted seven times.

    Gorgas married Anna E. Swormstedt.  Ferdinand Gorgas died at his home in Hamilton Terrace, Baltimore on April 8, 1914.  He was seventy-eight years old.
    John Osborne and James W. Gerencser, eds., “Ferdinand James Samuel Gorgas,” Dickinson Chronicles, http://chronicles.dickinson.edu/encyclo/g/ed_gorgasFJS.htm.
    How to Cite This Page: "Gorgas, Ferdinand James Samuel," House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College, https://hd.housedivided.dickinson.edu/node/5756.