American College Of Surgeons - Inspiring Quality: Highest Standards, Better Outcomes

History of the American College of Surgeons

The American College of Surgeons (ACS) was established in Chicago, IL, in 1913 at the initiative of Franklin Martin, MD, FACS. The College is a surgical society dedicated to promoting the highest standards of surgical care through education of, and advocacy for, its Fellows and their patients, and to safeguarding standards of care in an optimal and ethical practice environment.

1929 Board of Regents

The College was an outgrowth of the highly successful Clinical Congresses of Surgeons of North America, which took place annually from 1910 in various large surgical centers throughout North America as a means for continuing education of practicing surgeons. The Clinical Congresses were, themselves, an outgrowth of the journal Surgery, Gynecology and Obstetrics, another initiative of ACS Founder Franklin H. Martin. SG&O began publishing in 1905 as a vehicle for practicing surgeons to edit their own journal, unlike most other scientific medical journals of the day, with the exception of the Journal of the American Medical Association, which were published by non-medical commercial firms for profit. From the time of its origin, the College has been involved in surgical education and research, patient welfare, hospital standardization, ethics of practice, and collaboration with other medical associations.

For more information, see:

  • Martin, Franklin H. The Joy of Living: An autobiography (2 vols.). Garden City, N.Y. Doubleday, Doran & Co., Inc.: 1933. Available for viewing in the Archives.
  • Grimm. Eleanor K. The ACS History Notebooks (27 ring binders). manuscript, compiled 1953-1957. Available for viewing in the Archives.
  • Davis, Loyal, Fellowship of Surgeons: a History of the American College of Surgeons. Chicago: ACS, c1960.
  • Stephenson, George W. American College of Surgeons at 75. Chicago: ACS: 1990, c1994. Available on request from the Archives.
  • Nahrwold, David, MD, FACS, and Peter Kernahan, MD, PhD, FACS. The American College of Surgeons 1913-2012. Chicago: ACS: 2012. Available for purchase from ACS Customer Service.

Clinical Congresses
Presidents of the American College of Surgeons (ACS)
Presidential Addresses
Executive Directors of the ACS
Recipients of the Distinguished Service Award
Honorary Fellows
Centennial Timeline

Who was the founder of the College?

Although many were responsible for its founding, Franklin H. Martin, MD, FACS, is generally regarded as the person who conceived and brought to reality the journal Surgery, Gynecology and Obstetrics (SG&O) in 1905, the Clinical Congress of Surgeons of North America in 1910, and the plans for the founding of the American College of Surgeons in 1913.

Who was the first African-American member of the College?

Daniel Hale Williams, MD, FACS, St. Luke’s Hospital in Chicago, was the first African-American member of the College. He was admitted to Fellowship in 1913.

Who was the first woman member of the College?

Florence West Duckering, MD, FACS, an attending surgeon, New England Hospital for Women and Children, Boston, MA, was one of the first women surgeons admitted to the College in 1913. However, the 1913 American College of Surgeons Yearbook lists at least five other women as members of the College.