Lewis A. Sayre: The First Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery in America
Lewis Albert Sayre (1820–1900) is considered to be among the founding fathers of orthopaedic 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 orthopaedics at the Bellevue Medical College where he served as their first Professor of Orthopaedics. 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.
We thank B. J. Gooch, special collections librarian and university archivist at Transylvania University, for information regarding the education of Lewis Sayre; Colleen Bradley-Sanders, Archivist of the Ehrman Medical Library of the New York University School of Medicine, for her generous help with the photographs included in this article, the Special Collections staff of the Ehrman Medical Library, and the staff of the archives of the New York Academy of Medicine for their assistance with our review of the Sayre collections.
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