Scope and Contents
The collection consists of materials by or about Dr. Chevalier Jackson and his family from 1884-1959. The materials include addresses (1902-1949) many to the American Laryngological Association; publications (1905-1950) mainly pertaining to Jackson's work in laryngology, foreign body extractions, and the bronchoscope; legal records (1887-1889); a scrapbook (1884-1886) about Jefferson Medical College; correspondence (1884-1954); and photographs of foreign body extractions (n.d.). The correspondence is mainly personal including a set of letters written by Jackson while at Jefferson (1884-1886) documenting his medical studies and early professional life.
Biographical / Historical
Chevalier Jackson (1865-1958) was born in Pittsburgh, PA on November 4, 1865. He was the son of William S. Jackson (1829-1890) and Katherine Ann Morange Jackson (b.1836) and had two brothers, Stanford and Shirls. During Jackson’s early years, his family struggled with poverty. Jackson attended Western Pennsylvania University, now the University of Pittsburgh, from 1879-1883. Also in Pittsburgh, he apprenticed under Dr. Gilmore Foster. In 1884, he enrolled at Jefferson Medical College, graduating with his M.D. in 1886. Jackson then spent time in London, studying under Sir Morell Mackensie.
Jackson chose to specialize in laryngology. He developed and improved upon the instruments used in bronchoscopy and esophagoscopy. He also wrote and shared detailed instructions for the proper use of these instruments. Jackson became known for his techniques for removing foreign objects from patients’ bodies. Throughout his career, he removed thousands of items, including buttons, pins, and coins, from throats, esophaguses, and lungs. Jackson was greatly concerned with safety, influenced in part by his experiences treating patients whose ailments were caused by preventable accidents. Notably, he lobbied for the placement of warning labels on packages containing caustic poisons, including lye. In 1927, President Calvin Coolidge signed into law the Caustic Act, mandating the use of these labels.
During his career, Jackson both established a private practice and held teaching positions at various medical schools in Pennsylvania. In 1912, he was elected to the Chair of Laryngology at the University of Pittsburgh. He was appointed Professor of Laryngology at Jefferson in 1916. By 1924, he had been appointed Professor of Bronchoesophagology and head of the department as well. During his tenure at Jefferson, Jackson held additional positions at other medical schools: Professor of Laryngology at the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Medicine (1919-1930); Honorary Professor of Bronchoesophagology at Temple University; and Honorary Professor of Bronchoesophagology at the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania. He was also an author of texts related to laryngology, notably Tracheobronchoscopy, Esophagoscopy, and Gastroscopy (1907) and Peroral Endoscopy and Laryngeal Surgery (1913). In total, Jackson published twelve textbooks, four monographs, and over four hundred medical articles.
In 1911, Jackson learned that he suffered from pulmonary tuberculosis. Despite efforts at scaling back his activities, he experienced a pulmonary hemorrhage in 1913 that necessitated complete rest. He taught at Jefferson until his mandatory retirement in 1930, at age 65. He continued to write and serve in his role at Temple. He also served as President of the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania from 1935 to 1941.
Jackson married Alice B. White (d. 1957) in 1899. They had a son, Chevalier Lawrence Jackson, M.D. (b. 1900) who became Professor of Bronchoscopy and Esophagology at Temple University School of Medicine and head of the Temple University Clinic. Chevalier Jackson died in Philadelphia on August 16, 1958, age 92. Today, his collection of 2,374 accidentally-swallowed objects removed from patients can be found at the Mutter Museum in Philadelphia.