American Civil War Medicine & Surgical Antiques

Surgical Set collection from 1860 to 1865 - Civilian and Military

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Lewis Albert Sayer, M.D.

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Lewis Albert Sayre (1820–1900) is considered to be among the founding fathers of orthopedic surgery in the United States. He studied medicine at the College of Physicians and Surgeons (now of Columbia University). Sayre later helped establish the first academic department of orthopedics at the Bellevue Medical College where he served as their first Professor of Orthopedics. Lewis Sayre treated a considerable diversity of musculoskeletal conditions and meticulously documented them with written notes, sketches, and photographs. As a public figure, his methods were controversial, attracting praise by some and inviting criticism by other prominent members of the international community.

He made great strides for physicians, helping to charter the American Medical Association and to establish the weekly publication of the Journal of the American Medical Association.


SAYRE, LEWIS ALBERT, New York was born in Madison, formerly Bottle Hill, Morris CO., N. J., Feb. 29lh, iSzo. He is the son of Archibald and Martha Sayre and grandson of Ephraim Sayre, quarter master on Gen. Washington's staff during th revolutionary war. His education in boy hood was obtained at the Madison academy and Wantage seminary, Deckertown, Sussex CO., N. J. He subsequently graduated a Transylvania univ., in Lexington, Ky. Ii 1839 he entered the office of Dr. Davi Green, in New York, graduating in 1842 from the coll. of phys. and surg. in New York. His thesis was on "Spinal Irrita lion," and was published in the Westen Journal of Medical ¿iciinre, edited by Dr Lunsford P. Yandell, of Louisville, Ky. I 1842 he was appointed prosector of surger in the coll. of phys. and surg. ; this positioi he held until 1852, when he resigned it, an was appointed emeritus prosector.

In 1844 he organized the pathological society; from 1844 to 1866 he was hospital. surgeon. of 1st division . New York State militia; was appointed surg. to Bellevue hosp. in 1853, a position which he till retains, and from 1857 to 1871 held a imilar position in the charily hosp. He is tow consulting surg. of that institution, and Iso of the Home for Incurables, Westchester :o., N. Y. He was one of the original mem- iers of the Am. med. asso., of which he has teen vice-president ; is a member of the N. Y. Slate med. soc. ; the New York со. med. oc. ; the New York acad. of medicine; the .oc. of neurology (1873); of the médico- égal soc. (1872) ; hon. member of the New irunswick med. soc. (1870); of the med. soc. of Norway (1869). In 1872 he was made a knight of the order of Wnsa, by the iing of Sweden, for his contributions to medical science. Was resident physician to New York city from 1,860 until 1866, holding the office under three different administrations, during which time he presented many papers to the board of health on the contagiousness of cholera, and its control by quarantine ; prevention of small-pox by compulsory vaccination; sewerage of streets; construction of buildings; ventilation of tenement houses, and various other topics of general hygiene of great practical importance. Was one of the original founders of lîellevue hosp. med. coll., and was appointed at its organization prof, of orthopedic surgery, a position which he still holds. This was the first establishment of such a chair in any institution in this country, but we are happy to see that this good example is now being followed in most of our prominent colleges. His contributions to medical literature have been very numerous, and extend over a wide range of subjects. Among those which he has treated are " Pulmonary Abscess with Pleuritic Effusion, Successfully Treated by Free Incision." It will be seen by the query at the end of this paper, published in the Transactions of the society of alumni of the coll. of phys. and surg. in 1842, that he then pointed out the treatment which has since been proved to be correct, by the valuable paper on Pneumo- Thorax, by Prof. Austin Flint, in No. 3, vol. i., of a series of American clinical lectures. "On Maternal Influence in Producing Naevi Malerni and other Deformities," in a work called " Mental and Mornl Qualities Transmissible,"in 1842; caseof"Chorea from Mental Anxiety on Account of a Deformity," cured by removal of the same; cases of " Chronic Abscess in the Cellular Tissue of the Peritoneum;" case of " Spina Bitida, Snctessful Removal of Tumor by Ligature" (1849). The last case is published in " Parker's Edition cf Cooper's Surgery *' " Extensive Recto-Tschial Abscess, with Caries of the Coccyx, Successfully Treated by Removal of the Diseased Bone" (1853); 41 Exseclion of the Head of the Femur" (1854); "Report on Morbus Coxanus" (1860); "On Compulsory Vaccination"

Í|8Ó2); " New Operation for Artificial Hip- oint " ,(1863) ; " Remarkable Case of Deception : Л Woman Professing to Secrete Nothing but Charcoal and Stones, nil the Natural Functions being Arrested" (1863;) "Croup —Case of Traumatic Hemorrhage following Tracheotomy," arising from the imperfect form of trachial tube used, and some remarks on the treatment of croup by inhalation of steam (1864); "On Mechanical Treatment of Diseased Joints" (1865); " Report on tile Contagion of Cholera" (1865); " Report on a Case of Luxation of Head of Femur into Ischialic Notch," of nine months standing, successfully reduced by manipulation (i860); "Case of Lead Palsy from the Use of a Cosmetic, called I/urd's Bloom of Youth " (1869); "On Club-foot" (1869); "On Reflex Paralysis and Inco-oruination from Genital Irritation" (1870); "On New Treatment of Fractured Clavicle" (1871); " Report of Two Cases of Luxation of the Elbow," of fourteen weeks standing, successfully reduced (1871); "Report on Fractures" (1874); " Work on Orthopedic Surgery and Diseases of the Joints" (1876); "Report on Pott's Disease, with a Nc\v Method of Treatment by Suspension and Retention by Plaster Paris Bandage," for which a vote of thanks was passed by the association as " marking an era in the history of surgery," read before the Am. med. asso. (1876) ; also on " Lateral Curvature," before the N. Y. State med. soc. (1876); and on " Hip-Disease," before the international med. congress (1876). In 1877 he visited England, and his stay in that country partook more of the character of an ovation than a simple visit, no American surgeon ever receiving such marked attention from the profession in England as he. He gave a number of demonstrations of the details of his method of treatment of Pott's disease and lateral curvature in many of the various colleges and hospitals of the country, the first being at the Univ. coll. hosp., Lon- 'don. At St. Bartholomew's hospital he delivered a clinical lecture, and shortly after " put up" two cases of 1*0114 disease, and one of lateral curvature at Guy's hospital before a large number of the profession. One of these cases was a child of eleven years who had never stood, and the worst case, Dr. Sayre snifl, he had ever seen. In less than half an hour he had the satisfaction of making her walk. On the day following he "put up" four cases at the Royal Orthopedic hosp. At Birmingham, to which city he had been invited by the branch of the British med. asso. located there, he gave a demonstration in the amphitheatre of the Queen's hospital, where he lectured for one hour and applied the plaster jacket to two cases of Pott's disease. An address was made by Mr. West, senior surgeon of the institution, of" hccrty thanks and welcome to the great American surgeon." Dr. Fur- neux Jordan, who seconded the motion, referred in warm and eloquent terms to the work which Dr. Sayre had accomplished, by which the miserable and misshapen would be enabled tobe restored toperfect health and perfect form. In his reply, Dr. Sayre, who was at first overcome by the warmth of Dr. Jordan's remarks, responded with such enthusiasm as to electrify the audience, and to call forth immense applause. Dr. Sayre also visited Manchester, and was present at the annual meeting of the British medical association in that place, and where he occupied the position of delegate from the Am. med. asso. He gave two demonstrations before that body, which were received with the warmest admiration, and a unanimous vote of thanks passed; the association adopting, without a single dissenting voice, the views which he had presented. Judging from the reports in the various medical journals, the enthusiasm and excitement at his last demonstration must have surpassed anything that had ever before occurred at я medical convention. During his stay in England he was the recipient of much generous hospitality. Before he left England, by the earnest solicitation of the profession, he published a work on " Spinal Curvature and its Treatment," which has just been issued by Smith, Elder & Co., Waterloo Place, London. He married, Jan. 251)1, 1849, Eliza A., daughter of Charles Henry Hall, Esq., of Harlem, N. Y.


From Bellevue Hospital:

1884 Sayre, Lewis Albert,

A. B., Transyl. Univ., 1839; M. D., Coll. Phys. and Surg., 1842; a founder of N. Y. Pathol. Soc., 1844, and of Bell. Hosp. Med. Coll., 1861 ; Prof. Orthop. Surg., Bell. Hosp. Med. Coll., since 1861; Res. Phys., City N. Y., 1866; Vis. Surg., Charity Hosp., 1859-73, Cons. Surg. since 1873; Cons. Surg. Home for Incurables, and St. Eliz. Hosp. Made Knight of Order of Vasa by King Charles XV. of Sweden, 1872. Pres. Amer. Med. Assoc., 1880. Author of " Manual of Treatment of Club Foot," 1869; "Lectures on Orthopaedic Surgery and Diseases of Joints," 1876 (translated into French, German, Spanish and Japanese); " Spinal Disease and Spinal Curvature," 1877 (trans, into German); " Spina Bifida, the Tumor Removed by Ligature" ; " Exsectionofthe Head of the Femur and Removal of the Upper Rim of the Acetabulum for MorbusCoxarius"; ''Treatment of Croup by Inhalation of Steam "; " Lead Palsy from the Use of a Cosmetic "; " Mechanical Treatment of Chronic Inflammation of the Joints of the Lower Extremities " ; " Partial Paralysis from Reflex Irritation caused by Congenital Phymosis"; "A Simple Dressing for Fracture of the Clavicle"; "On Anchylosis"; "Clinical Lectures on Disease of the Hip- joint"; "Spinal Anaemia, with Partial Paralysis and want of Coordination from Irritation of the Genital Organs"; "Report on Fractures"; "Report on Pott's Disease, or Caries of the Spine, Treated by Extension and Plaster-of- Paris Bandage " ; " On Disease of the Knee-joint" ; " Spon- dylitis and Rotary Lateral Curvature of the Spine " (trans. into Italian); " On the Necessity of Cutting Contractured Tissues in Cases of Deformity Before Traction is Attempted" ; " Results in Cases of Hip-joint Disease Treated by the Portable Traction Hip Splint," 1892. Father of Reginald H. Sayre (1885, II).

A. B., T1ansyl. Univ., 1839; M. D., College Phys. & Surg., 1842. A founder of N. Y. Pathol. Soc., 1844, and Bellevue Med. Coll. since 1861. Professor Orthop. Surgery, Bellevue Hosp. Med. Coll. since 1861. Consulting Surgeon at Charity Hosp.; Home for Incurables, and St. Elizabeth and Bellevue Hospitals. Made Knight of Order of Vasa by King Charles XV. of Sweden, 1872. President Amer. Med. Assn., 1880. Author 20 papers.



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


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American Civil War Medicine & Surgical Antiques

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