The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is the federal agency responsible for public health and is headquartered adjacent to the campus of Emory University.

The agency’s origins are based in the effort to control malaria outbreaks around military bases in the United States during World War II. The Office of Malaria Control in War Areas was headquartered in Atlanta because the South had the most malaria transmission.

Following World War II, the agency’s scope expanded and the name changed to the Communicable Disease Center. In 1946, Coca-Cola President Robert W. Woodruff brokered an agreement with Emory University to sell fifteen acres of land at its campus to the federal government for ten dollars to relocate the headquarters of the CDC from downtown Atlanta.

The CDC gained credibility in the 1950s when it helped identify and then correct a problem with the Salk polio vaccine and again when it developed national guidelines for an influenza vaccine during a massive flu outbreak. In the 1960s and 1970s, the CDC played a key role in the eradication of smallpox.

The CDC is the only federal agency headquartered outside Washington, D.C.

The CDC is the nation’s public health agency, and is a model for countries all around the globe.

Jean Clare Smith, Community submission to Atlanta in 50 Objects

Reichert zetopan microscope, used by Dr. Charles Shepard at CDC, ca. 1945.

Object & Image:
Courtesy of David J. Spencer CDC Museum

Next: 45 Oakland Cemetery.

City leaders purchased Oakland Cemetery’s initial six acres in 1850 to be a public burial ground.