American Civil War Medicine & Surgical Antiques

Surgical Set collection from 1860 to 1865 - Civilian and Military

Civil War:  Medicine, Surgeon Education & Medical Textbooks

 Dr. Michael Echols  &  Dr. Doug Arbittier


 Home page  |   Feedback & Contact Dr. Echols  |  SEARCH this site   |  Article Indexes   |   Medical Faculty & Authors

 Civil War Medical Books  |  Medicine Containers   |   1800's & Civil War Surgery Set Displays

Medical College Index - Lecture Cards  |  Civil War Medical Book Author-Title Index


 Hugh Lenox Hodge, M.D.


Click image to enlarge

Go to lecture card display

The name of Hugh Lenox Hodge, the obstetrician, is associated with the mechanism of labor, with his obstetrical forceps, and with a pessary. . Hugh Hodge was the son of Dr. Hugh and Maria Blanchard Hodge, and was born in Philadelphia, June 27, 1796. His father, after heroic efforts to help, fell a victim in the yellow fever epidemic of 1797, and died in 1798, leaving his widow with one boy, Charles, besides Hugh. She used fine self- denial to educate them, and at fourteen Hugh entered Nassau Hall, Princeton, and studied medicine afterwards with Dr. Caspar Wistar, matriculating at the University of Pennsylvania, and taking his M. D. there in 1818. Very anxious to go to Europe, he tried to get the money by taking a surgeoncy on a ship going to India, but returned hi two years, minus the money, but richer in experience, through work in the cholera hospitals and the study of tropical diseases. For one year he was physician to the Southern Dispensary and to the Philadelphia Dispensary, then he took Dr. Homer's (q. v.) anatomical class while the latter was in Europe, and was later a lecturer on the principles of surgery at the Medical Institute. In 1828, being well established in practice, he married Margaret E., daughter of John Apinwall, a New York merchant, and had seven sons.

When Dr. Dewees (q. v.) resigned the chair of obstetrics in the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Hodge was elected and was also physician to the lying-in department of the Pennsylvania Hospital. He was led to change from surgery to obstetrics by failing eyesight. Year by year his private practice increased and he began to relinquish obstetrics and devote himself almost exclusively to treating the diseases of women, and, following up Dewees' work, in inventing and using pessaries for uterine displacement, devoted himself for years to the discovery of the proper materials and shapes, having hundreds made of various kinds. The case which first attracted his attention to the value of mechanical support was that of a woman, who in 1830 came to the hospital ward with a diagnosis of hepatic disease. The usual treatment, including a course of mercury, left her worse. The resident physician on making an examination, found decided retroversion of the uterus. Hodge introduced one of the then new Dewees pessaries and to his astonishment the liver complaint was cured and the woman speedily restored to health. Sitting one evening in the university "his eyes rested on the upright steel support designed to hold the shovel and tongs which were kept in position by a steel hook and as he studied its supporting curve, the longed-for illumination came and the lever pessary was the result." Afterwards he perfected his discovery by giving the instrument its double curve and making it closed. He also modified the obstetric forceps and Bau- delocque's cephalotribe and his cranitomy scissors. Some thirty years' experience of hospital and private practice made his book on "Diseases Peculiar to Women" (1860) particularly valuable. On the resignation of his professorship, he devoted himself to his great work, "Principles and Practice of Obstetrics" (1864), which he dedicated to the memory of James (q. v.) and Dewees, and fulfilled its promise of being "in opposition to the most admired authors." From its philosophical character, as well as its original teachings and illustrations it ranked among the first of its kind, both in America and abroad.

He was led to resign his professorship on account of failing eyesight, a weakness in the optic nerve, which could not be relieved by surgical skill. At last he was unable to read and write, but his will was indomitable. For his great obstetrical work he had to rely on an amanuensis, and such help as his medical confreres gladly rendered. Sixty-seven years old, he did all the professional work which could be done without eyes. The poor and the students could still count upon finding him in a serene mind, tender and sympathetic and with loyal, unswerving trust in God. He generously, at this time, presented the college with his valuable museum, together with his collection of material used in making the one hundred and fifty- nine illustrations in his book. It is kept separate and under the curatorship of the professor of obstetrics.

The day before his last illness he seemed in his usual health, and was working till late afternoon with professional engagements and preparing an article on "Cephalotripsy." He went to bed perfectly well, but near midnight was seized with heart failure, and died twenty- six hours later, on February 26, 1873.

He was a fellow of the College of Physicians, Philadelphia; professor of obstetrics, University of Pennsylvania, 1835-1863; emeritus professor in 1863; LL. D. University of Pennsylvania, 1871.

Hist, of the Penn. Hosp. Morton and Woodbury 1895.

Standard Hist, of the Med. Profess., in Philadelphia, F. P. Henry, 1897.

Biogr. Memoir by W. Goodell, M. D., Philadelphia, 1874.


(The personal edited research notes of Michael Echols, the source of which may or may not be completely documented)

Medical Antiques Index

American Civil War Medicine & Surgical Antiques Index

Contact Dr. Arbittier or Dr. Echols



Civil War Medical Collections 


Direct links to all medical & Civil War collections on this site                         

American Surgical Sets:

Pre-Civil War:  1 | 2  -   Post-Civil War:  3  -  Civil War 1861-1865:  4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8   INDEX

Medical Text-Books:

1 | 1a | 2 | 2a | 3 | 3a | 4 | 4a | 5 | 5a | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 9a | 10 | 11 | 12    INDEX

Surgeon General's Office Library printed catalogues: 1840 | 1864 | 1865
Medical Lecture Cards: 1 | 2 | 34 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21    INDEX

Medical Faculty and Authors:


Navy Surgeon Exams:

1863 Navy Surgeon Applicant Exams with Biographies   INDEX ONE | INDEX TWO

Surgeon CDVs, Images:

Army: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8    INDEX

Navy: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8   

Hosp Dep't Bottles, Tins, 

U.S. Army Pannier:

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

American Civil War Medicine & Surgical Antiques

Please request permission before commercial use or publication of any content or photos on this site and credit any use with:  "American Civil War Surgical Antiques"   All content and all original photography on this Web Site is copyrighted 1995 - 2015 and may not be used on any other web site or in commercial print without the expressed e-mail permission from Dr. Arbittier:  Contact   All rights reserved. 


Students doing reports or projects are welcome to use the content of this site without permission, but credits would be appreciated.


Please note: information on this site may not be normally referenced as this is an active and long-term educational research project.  Personal notes may not be properly cited for publication.  Various articles are digitally reproduced under the 'fair-use act' of the copyright laws and are intended for educational purposes only.  Many citations are from Google digital 'books' and can be traced backwards via a search of a unique string in the citation.


 Arbittier Museum of Medical History Tour:   1 | 2 | 3


Last update: Monday, December 12, 2016