Photograph of Oswaldo Cruz at a hospital in Buenos Aires; he is standing and holding his coat

This biographic profile of Oswaldo Cruz highlights his role at the helm of the General Directorate of Public Health from 1903 to 1909, when he led landmark sanitary campaigns in Rio de Janeiro, then the nation’s capital. It takes equal note of his leadership at the Oswaldo Cruz Institute, where he served as director from late 1902 to 1916, when failing health forced him to step down and move to the mountainside town of Petropolis, not far from Rio. The profile also affords glimpses into his private life, testifying to feelings and deeds that are rarely divulged when the subject is a public figure—for instance, his love and devotion to his wife and children, as well as prosaic snapshots from his everyday life, where we see his concern over managing the family budget, painstakingly recorded year after year in a notebook he suggestively entitled “The Book of Truth.” It should be noted that something is missing from his personal archives: there is no sign whatsoever of nephritis, the incurable disease that beleaguered him the last ten years of his life and that took him at the age of 44. Yet it is easy to imagine the dramatic impact of this illness and the emotions it stirred in his family and friends, and the team of professionals he led at Manguinhos.