Dr. Charles Stokes was a member of the first Board of Regents of the American College of Surgeons and Surgeon General of the Navy (1910-1914), a position he held when he became one of the Founders of the College in 1913. Born in New York and an 1884 graduate of the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University, he started his career as an ambulance surgeon at Chambers Street Hospital in 1883, and was appointed house surgeon of Bellevue Hospital upon graduation.
Dr. Stokes began serving in the Navy in 1889, when he entered the service as assistant surgeon. From 1903 to 1906 he served as President Theodore Roosevelt’s surgeon.
Stokes’ career in the Navy took him to military service in Cuba, the Philippines, and China. In addition to his overseas service, he was professor of surgery at the Naval School in Washington, DC. He was a pioneer in abdominal surgery and is remembered for his contributions to first aid dressing techniques that were used in the war, and the Stokes splinter stretcher.
He retired as a Rear Admiral from the Navy in 1917, and continued his private practice in New York City until 1928. In addition, he served as president of the Electrotherapeutic Association, and in 1915 was appointed by Mayor John P. Mitchell as Director of the New York City Retreat for Drug Addicts and Inebriates at Warwick in Orange County.
As an ACS Regent, Stokes was Chair of the Committee on a Permanent Home for the College. His committee investigated the possibility of establishing the College’s headquarters in Washington, DC, before the committee finally decided upon Chicago for its home base. He was also appointed the Chair of Regional Credentials Committee representing the northeastern states.
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.