Document Type


Presentation Date



This article was published in The American Surgeon Volume 79, Issue 3, March 2013, Pages 232-234.

The published version is available at PMID: 23461945. Copyright © Ingenta


John Chalmers DaCosta was an influential chairman and the first Samuel D. Gross Professor of Surgery at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia. He was well known throughout the field as a skilled surgeon, passionate speaker, and exceptional writer. In addition to countless accomplishments during his career, DaCosta was deeply dedicated to the preservation and commemoration of surgical history. This ideology was exemplified when he set out on a mission to recover the old wooden operating table used by many of his iconic mentors including Samuel D. Gross, Joseph Pancoast, and William W. Keen. This table was originally used for surgical demonstrations and anatomy lessons in a lecture room of the Ely Building and later in the great amphitheater of the Jefferson Sansom Street Hospital. It was found forgotten in the basement of the College Building and was promptly refurbished, donned with dedicatory plaques, and returned to its honored position in the medical college. Dr. DaCosta also contributed a detailed article recalling the history of the table and the notable leaders in surgery who taught and practiced on its surface. The old table currently stands proudly in the entranceway of the Department of Surgery where it will remain as a cherished symbol of the early beginnings of surgical practice and education.