©Barlow Genealogy 1998-2005


Dr. Claude Heman Barlow     October 13, 1876 - October 08, 1969

All articles contributed by John F. Barlow

John LeGloahec - Rockefeller Archive Center, Sleepy Hollow, New York
Claude H. Barlow (1876-1968) was born in Lyons, Michigan. In his youth he learned a variety of crafts and arts, including metal working, woodworking, and painting, which he later used in scientific research and illustration. 

Dr. Barlow attended the University of Michigan from 1899 to 1902 and received an M.D. degree from Northwestern in 1906. 

Joining the American Baptist Foreign Mission Society in 1908, Dr. Barlow began twenty years of service as a medical missionary in China. He was Customs Medical Officer for the Chinese Maritime Customs in Ningpo, for which his fees went to the hospital and was a surgeon and hospital superintendent in Shaosing. Dr. Barlow received a China Medical Board fellowship to study the human intestinal fluke, which led to a Sc.D. from Johns Hopkins in 1929. 

In 1929, Dr. Barlow joined the staff of the International Health Division and was sent to Egypt where he conducted hookworm and schistosomiasis campaigns and did basic snail research. In 1944 he infected himself with schistosomiasis in order to bring viable eggs to Johns Hopkins for study.

With the outbreak of World War II, the Foundation terminated its Egyptian program and Dr. Barlow joined the Egyptian Ministry of Health, where he remained until his retirement in 1951. In 1951, he conducted a snail survey for South Africa and then returned to the United States.

The Literary Digest, January 02, 1926


THE MARTYRS TO MEDICINE make up an army whose services to humanity are as limitless, we are told, as posterity. Recently six English doctors were inocculated with living cancer germs to test the Gye-Bernard theory that cancer is caused by a virus which is harmless without a certain chemical agent. They are still waiting to see. Now comes a story of an American missionary dotor who sswallowed a quantity of flukes, an intestinal parasite which claims countless victims in China, in order to bring them alive, to this country to be studied. Some years ago, writes Dr. James H. Franklin in The Missionary Review of the World (New York), Dr. C. H. Barlow was discharged from a sanitarium at Saranac Lake, New York, where he had successfully been treated for pulmonary tuberculosis, deliberately contracted in order to save a Chinese patient's life. Ready again to report for work in the mission field, he went to Dr. Franklin, who is secretary of the American Baptist Foreign Mission Society, and asked to be sent back to China. After spending a few months in post-graduate study at the London School of Tropical Medicine, Dr. Barlow returned to the field of his first adventure with death, and there began a study of the fluke. He was hampered by the lack of laboratory equipment, and facilities. He pondered on how to get the flukes to a laboratory. The American immigration laws would not allow him to them here in the body of a sick Chinese. However, he did bring them over, and later met Dr. Franklin who carries on the story:

"How did you get them over here?", I asked. "Well," he replied, "one Sunday morning when most of the assistants where at the church service, I took 32 flukes from the body of a patient in the hospital, put them in a tumbler, locked my office door, and drank them down." The memory of the experience seemed very vivid to the doctor, and he paused for breath.

"Did you tell any of the other missionaries what you had done?", I inquired. "No," he answered. "Did you tell your wife?" "No, I did not tell anyone, I boarded a ship and came to America."

"I do not know how long Dr. Barlow allowed the flukes to multiply in his own body, but after several months, he presented himself at Johns Hopkins University, and told his story to the amazed experts,who gladly helped him to free his body of the parasites, and to make a careful study of them. One of the experts with whom I sat at table on a Pacific liner last year told me that only one of the flukes survived the treatment given them at Johns Hopkins, and that Dr. Barlow slept and ate in the laboratory watching lest the temperature change suddenly and something go wrong with the experiment. He had only one chance. In April, 1922, I found him back in Shaohsing working in his little laboratory.

"Well, Doctor, have you found where that bug germinates?", I asked.

"I think I have", he replied.

Then he explained that he had exposed all manner of things to it, but a single species of land snail, which the Chinese eat as freely as we do oysters, was the only article of food which did not seem to be immune when exposed to the germs of the parasite. However he was a bit confused because of evidence of two forms of malignant life in that particular species of snail, and he was not sure which was which.

"How will you determine?", I inquired.

"I have swallowed number one, and if it works, I will know which is which."

Moved by the thought of possiblities, I exclaimed, "but that is dangerous, man." "So it is", he replied quietly, "but the game is worth the candle."

When I inquired whether his wife knew what he was doing, he reported, "No, you are the only person who knows anything about it."

Not thinking of anything more appropriate, he writes, Dr. Franklin remarked that the Mission Board would certainly stand by his wife and children if Dr. Barlow should not survive the fluke. Dr Barlow chuckled, and said that a friend in Michigan, a life insurance man, who knew of his adventure, had given him a policy just before he left America the last time. So continues Dr. Franklin, "Greatly imprest by his heroism, I asked a question regarding his convictions. He replied that he had some convictions, and added, "this is my favorite passage of scripture: My Father worketh hitherto,and I work. "No heaven for me with a harp and a crown. I want a heaven with some blue prints in it -- something more to do."

What came of it all? Dr. Barlow traced the parasite back to the species of land snail and advised the Chinese accordingly. Nothing less than the sspirit of the Eternal Christ could have prompted him. Such sacrificial service must compel Chinese and others to inquire, "In whose name and by what power have you done this thing?"

Copy of the original article

June 08, 1964, The Grand Rapids Press, Grand Rapids, Michigan

BROTHERS REUNITED -- Dr. Claude H. Barlow, right, 87-year-old snail fever expert, gives his older brother, Oliver, 89, his first glimpse of Claude's self-written and illustrated book. Smiling approval is O. A. Rasmussen of Greenville, former pupil of Dr. Barlow. The two brothers were in Greenville for the 75th anniversary of the Greenville Alumni Association. It was Claude's first visit to the city in 35 years and Liver's first in 69 years.

Expert on Snail Disease
Greenville Grad of 1897 Returns for Reunion After Wandering Globe in Research

GREENVILLE -- Schistosomiasis? Yes, that's right, schistosomiasis.

Better known as "snail fever," it is a blood disease, and the internationally recognized expert on this crippler, Dr. Claude H. Barlow of Trumansburg, N.Y., paid a visit this weekend to his native West Michigan - his first in 35 years.

Keen Wit Bilies Age

A member of the Greenville High School of 1897, Dr. Barlow, 87, returned to this city 30 miles northeast of Grand Rapids for the 75th anniversary of the Greenville ALumni Association Saturday.

A rugged, alert man whose sharp mind and keen with belies his age, Dr. Barlow spent 41 years probing the mysteries of schistosomiasis, which is caused by a fluke of flatworm using a small gray water snail as a carrier.

The widest spread and most crippling disease known to the world,snail fever has inflicted millions in the wet, tropical climates of the Orient, Africa, and South America.

Although the United States is not home for the particular species of disease-carrying snail, according to Dr. Barlow the parasite is responsible for what is known as 'the swimmer's itch' in Michigan.

A University of Michigan graduate, he once played football under Fielding H. (Hurry-Up) Yost. In 1906, he received a masters degree from Northwestern University, then practiced surgery and medicine for two years at Engadine in the Upper Peninsula.

For 20 years he was a medical missionary in China with the American Baptist Foreign Mission Society.

After China, he studied at London University and received a degree in tropical diseases. Returning to the United States, he enrolled at Johns Hopkins University, where he received a doctor of science degree qualifying him for the study of parasitology.

The following 21 years took him to Egypt and South Africa. On that continent he served 11 years as head of snail fever studies for the Rockefeller Foundation, and 10 years as an official in the Egyptian minisitry of health.

He received a certificate of merit from President Truman in 1948.

In 1950 he retired to Trumansburg, near Cornell University.

Able to speak Arabic, German and Chinese, Barlow was schoolmaster at the Big Dane Settlement School nine miles north of Greenville in 1898-1899.

One of 11 children born to a Baptist minister, Dr. Barlow then walked the 18-mile trip daily from Greenville and back.

During his stay in Greenville he was the guest of a former pupil, O.A. Rasmussen.

Copy of the original article

Police Officer, Claud Heman Barlow, Greenville Michigan

At first I thought this was a photograph of Dr. Claude H. Barlow taken in his Customs Medical Officer uniform and that somebody had just misspelled his first name, now I'm not so sure. After enlarging the area around his badge it became obvious that this was a photograph of a police officer. Surely if he is not the Dr., he is a son of the Doctor.                                                                                                                                                    Click photo to enlarge

Michigan Index