Veterinarian, pioneer of bacteriology and veterinary education.
1833-1906 | Artist: Robert Wadsworth Grafton (1876-1936)
Impact & Accomplishments
Heinrich Janssen Detmers (Americanized as Henry Johnson Detmers) was a pioneer of bacteriology and veterinary education. Born in Oldenburg, Germany, and educated at the Royal Veterinary Colleges in Berlin and Hannover, Dr. Detmers taught in Neuenburg for three years.
In 1865, he immigrated to the United States, establishing a veterinary practice in Dixon, Illinois. From 1869 to 1875—a period when farmers were suffering great losses annually due to contagious animal diseases—he lectured in veterinary medicine at the agricultural colleges of Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, and Kansas, often serving as the first veterinarian on the teaching staff. In 1878, Detmers was called to Washington by the U. S. Commissioner of Agriculture, to investigate contagious pleuropneumonia in cattle and hog cholera. He returned to the academic world in 1885, to establish the nation’s second state-supported veterinary college at Ohio State University. In the founding decade of that program, Dr. Detmers organized a free clinic, structured a curriculum that included the first veterinary bacteriology courses in the U. S., and established a veterinary hospital.
He retired in 1895, resuming his private practice and continuing research. Several years after his death, in 1919, the Ohio State Veterinary Medical Association presented his portrait to the Saddle & Sirloin Club in Chicago.
Did You Know?
In 1900—five years after he left academia—Dr. Detmers developed a smoothly operating, large-capacity hypodermic syringe that would be used to vaccinate against hog cholera and could be sterilized without damaging the plunger, according to Dr. J. Fred Smithcors’ 1963 book, “The American Veterinary Profession.”