Harry Mitchell Sherman, MD, FACS, was a founder and active member of the American College of Surgeons (ACS), best known in ACS history for being skeptical about the need for a College of surgeons, but ultimately becoming one of the College’s greatest champions.
Dr. Sherman was a native of Rhode Island and a graduate of Trinity College, Hartford, CT. He received his medical degree from what is now Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, NY, in 1880.
After his hospital internship at New York’s Bellevue Hospital and a short stint as a ship surgeon, Dr. Sherman moved to San Francisco and became a lifelong Californian. His specialty training in orthopaedic surgery gave him the opportunity to become an orthopaedic surgeon on the staff of the Children’s Hospital, San Francisco, which he helped develop into the center of orthopaedic surgery on the west coast.
Dr. Sherman was appointed as a clinical professor of orthopaedic surgery at the University of California in 1896 and joined the staff of St. Luke’s Hospital, San Francisco, in 1901, as a surgeon. Although primarily an orthopaedic surgeon, Dr. Sherman accomplished a great deal in other surgical specialties. Additionally, after the San Francisco earthquake and fire in 1906, he initiated the opening of a teaching hospital at the University of California.
Dr. Sherman was an active member and officer of many surgical associations, but it was the American College of Surgeons, and particularly its California section for which he was a most enthusiastic organizer. Although he strongly opposed the founding of the ACS during the time that Dr. Franklin Martin was traveling around the country seeking support for the College, Sherman was ultimately won over and served on the College’s first Board of Regents in 1913. He chaired the first west coast regional credentials committee, which was the beginning of the decentralization of the ACS and the eventual formation of the local credentials committees that now conduct the initial screening of applicants for ACS Fellowship.
For more information on Dr. Sherman’s role in the discussions leading up to the formation of the American College of Surgeons and his work as a Regent, see Fellowship of Surgeons by Loyal Davis, MD, FACS.
ACS Archives Highlights is a series showcasing the vibrant history of the American College of Surgeons, its members, and the history of surgery. For further information on our featured highlights, search the Archives Catalog or contact the ACS Archivist.