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Koop, C. Everett (Charles Everett)



  • Existence: 1916-2013

Biographical Statement

Charles Everett Koop was born 14 October 1916 to John Everett and Helen (Apel) Koop in Brooklyn, NY. He graduated from Dartmouth College in 1937 and received his M.D. degree from Cornell Medical College in 1941. After serving an internship at the Pennsylvania Hospital, he pursued postgraduate training at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, the Boston Children's Hospital, and the Graduate School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, where he received the degree of Doctor of Science (Medicine) in 1947. Continuing his work within medical education, in 1959 he was named Professor of Pediatric Surgery at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Medicine and Professor of Pediatrics in 1971. He is presently the Elizabeth DeCamp McInerny Professor at Dartmouth.

As Koop’s career as a pediatric surgeon began when Koop became Surgeon-in-Chief of the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia in 1948, a post he held until he left 1981. From 1964-1976 he was the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Pediatric Surgery. While at Children's Hospital, Dr. Koop came under the ministry of Donald Grey Barnhouse at Tenth Presbyterian Church. In his memoirs Koop recounted the influence of Tenth Presbyterian.

When he left Children’s Hospital and after a lengthy confirmation hearing Koop was appointed Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health under the U.S. Public Health Service and was sworn in as the U.S. Surgeon General on November 17, 1981. The following spring he was also appointed Director of the Office of International Health. As Surgeon General, Dr. Koop oversaw the activities of the Public Health corps and advised the public on a variety of health matters. He took strong public stands against abortion and tobacco, became an advocate for the rights of children with defects, and became the government’s chief spokesman on AIDS. Reviving an old practice, Koop wore the Surgeon General's ceremonial military uniform—a naval admiral's dress uniform, complete with medals—during much of his day-to-day work. Some have called Koop the first "celebrity Surgeon General" because of his high profile and recognizable uniform.

Having held his position for nearly all of Ronald Reagan’s time as President, Koop resigned as Surgeon General on October 1, 1989 and continues to be a force for public health and health education through his writings, electronic media, public appearances, personal contacts, and as Senior Scholar of the C. Everett Koop Institute at Dartmouth.

Dr. Koop is the recipient of numerous honors and awards including 35 honorary doctorates. Some of the key awards he received were the Denis Brown Gold Medal by the British Association of Paediatric Surgeons, the William E. Ladd Gold Medal of the American Academy of Pediatrics in recognition of outstanding contributions to the field of pediatric surgery, and the Order of the Duarte, Sanchez, and Mella (the highest award of the Dominican Republic) for his achievement in separating the conjoined Dominican twins. He was awarded the Medal of the Legion of Honor by the government of France in 1980, was inducted into the Royal College of Surgeons of England in 1982 as well as the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow in 1987. In 1991 he was given an Emmy Award in the News and Documentary category for C. Everett Koop, M.D., a five part series on health care reform. In September of 1995, President Clinton presented him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian award.

Dr. Koop is also a prolific author and has written more than 200 articles and books on the practice of medicine and surgery, biomedical ethics, and health policy. He has also written several books on those with disabilities and right to life issues. He has also written his own memoirs.

Dr. Koop and his wife Elizabeth have three living children—Allen, Norman, and Elizabeth Thompson—and numerous grandchildren.


Author: Wheaton College Archives & Special Collections staff

Found in 2 Collections and/or Records:

An Evening with C. Everett Koop

 Digital Record
Identifier: KOOP4-4-02
Dates: Digitized: 2002 April 04

C. Everett Koop Papers

 Collection — Container: Books
Identifier: SC-058
Scope and Contents The C. Everett Koop papers are organized into five series: Biographical, Correspondence, Manuscript Material (sub-series: Books and Lectures/Speeches), Published Material (Pamphlets), Media Material (Audio tapes) and Secondary. The bulk of the collection is found in the Book Manuscripts. The manuscripts include typescripts and galleys for four of Koop's books: Let's Talk, The Right to Live; The Right to Die, Sometimes Mountains Move and Koop. The remaining series contain a few folders or items...
Dates: Created: 1968-1999; Other: Majority of material found in 1968-1981; Other: Date acquired: 1993