Gerald M. McCarthy


Gerald M. McCarthy was born in November 1858 in Ottawa, Illinois.  When he was sixteen he was sick with meningitis.  Meningitis caused him to become deaf.  He also had problems seeing and with other parts of his body.  He went to school at the Illinois School for the Deaf.  He loved to read. 

Symptoms of Meningitis
Picture Courtesy of the Dublin City University

Smithsonian Institution

Picture Courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution

McCarthy went to college at Gallaudet College.  He worked in a flower store and became interested in botany.  He wrote his first book his last year of college.  It was about plants he had found that there are not very many of in the world.  Some of the plants were given to the Smithsonian Institution.

After graduating from college McCarthy worked as the State Botonist in North Carolina.  While he worked there he was hit by a train.  People used to walk on the tracks because the roads were muddy. 


Photo Courtesy of

Parts of a Plant

Picture Courtesy of The Visual Dictionary

Later he became the secretary of the North Carolina State Horticultural Society.  He wrote many papers about plants and insects.  In 1897 he was fired because of political reasons.  It was unfair.  People were very upset because they liked him.

 He took a job working for the Board of Agriculture and the Board of Health.  He studied drinking water to make sure it was safe to drink.  McCarthy spent a lot of time writing letters to leaders because they hired people who did not know how to do the work.  This meant that people drank unsafe water. 

Parts of a Flying Insect

Picture Courtesy of the Visual Dictionary

Picture Courtesy of North Carolina State University

They also owed him money from when he worked as the secretary of the North Carolina State Horticultural Society.  He never received his money because the North Carolina Board said they didnít have the money to pay him.

  McCarthy died on September 8l, 1915.  

Web Links


Lang, H. G., & Meath-Lang, B. (1995). Gerald M. McCarthy.  In A Biographical Dictionary: Deaf Persons in the Arts and
(pp.249-251). Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.