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Hippocratic Oath: Isabelle Martin’s gift to the American College of Surgeons

Benjamin H. Orndoff, MD, FACS (1880-1971)

The Hippocratic Oath is the well-known symbol oath embodying the code of medical ethics that medical practitioners traditionally recite when beginning medical practice. The significance of this item lies in its provenance. One of the many artifacts being cataloged in the American College of Surgeons (ACS) archives finding aids, a framed copy of the Hippocratic Oath was donated to the College sometime after 1938 by Isabelle H. Martin, ACS founder Dr. Franklin Martin’s widow.

Isabelle Martin had, in turn, received the framed oath as a Christmas gift from Benjamin H. Orndoff, MD, FACS. Dr. Orndoff (1880-1971) was a Chicago radiologist and a surgeon who did pioneering work in radiology, which he helped bring into perspective as a medical specialty. He found the x-ray to be an important agent in diagnosis, and established the Department of Radiology at the Stritch School of Medicine of Loyola University, Maywood, IL. He founded the American College of Radiology, while a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons as well, and continued his private medical practice until a year before he died at age 90.

Isabelle Martin was likely one of many recipients of the gift, which depicts one version of the oath, but Dr. Orndoff’s personal note to her indicates a fondness and respect he must have felt for her, as the widow of Franklin H. Martin, MD, FACS.

For more information about Isabelle Martin and her papers, contact the ACS Archives.

Letter from  Benjamin H. Orndoff, MD, FACS Hippocratic Oath