The embryogenesis of the specialty of Hand Surgery: a story of three great Americans--a politician, a general, and a duck hunter: The 2002 Richard J. Smith memorial lecture

J Hand Surg Am. 2003 Mar;28(2):185-98. doi: 10.1053/jhsu.2003.50047.


Although the origins of surgery of the hand come from many different countries over several decades, the specialty of Hand Surgery is uniquely American and came out of the experience of the US Army Medical Corps Hand Centers during and immediately after World War II. The circumstances and opportunities that allowed for the development of the specialty, however, were set in motion years before the war. It is a story of friendship, opportunity, ingenuity, and commitment. That embryogenesis of hand surgery was the result of the intersection of the lives of 3 great Americans--President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Surgeon General of the Army Norman T. Kirk, and Dr. Asa Sterling Bunnell. These men led fascinating lives and each had personal motivations that made it possible for the specialty to flourish.

Publication types

  • Address
  • Biography
  • Historical Article
  • Portrait

MeSH terms

  • Famous Persons*
  • General Surgery*
  • Hand Injuries*
  • History, 20th Century
  • Humans
  • Medicine*
  • Specialization*
  • United States
  • Warfare

Personal name as subject

  • Franklin Delano Roosevelt
  • Norman Thomas Kirk
  • Asa Sterling Bunnell