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Biographical entry Whitman, Royal (1857 - 1946)

Hon FRCS 12 January 1939; MD Harvard 1882; MRCS 14 November 1889; FACS 1913.

24 October 1857
Portland, Maine, USA
19 August 1946
New York, USA
Orthopaedic surgeon


Born at Portland, Maine, USA on 24 October 1857. He graduated in medicine from Harvard in 1882, and practised for a time at Boston. In 1889 he moved to New York and was appointed to the staff of the Hospital for the Ruptured and Crippled, known later as the Hospital for Special Surgery. His connexion with this hospital continued for forty years, till his retirement as consulting surgeon in 1929. He then moved to England, and lived in London for the next thirteen years, going back to New York during the war in 1943. He had made postgraduate studies in England as a young man and taken the Membership of the College in 1889; he was elected an honorary Fellow in 1939.

Whitman's interests lay in orthopaedic surgery. He was president of the American Orthopaedic Association as early as 1895. He looked upon the out-patient service as an integral part of orthopaedic treatment, and developed its work to that of a veritable clinic, which he attended personally each afternoon. He kept himself and his assistants abreast of the latest developments in their specialty, and followed its literature in several languages. He was consultant to numerous hospitals in New York and elsewhere.

Whitman was an active advocate and employer of manipulative measures as a necessary adjunct to surgery. He was an excellent teacher, and throughout his career taught orthopaedic surgery at his hospital, at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University, and at the New York Policlinic. Whitman was a pioneer in development of orthopaedic methods. He was a frequent contributor to professional journals and his text-book became a classic. He was an honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine, and an Associate of the Academie de Chirurgie, Paris. Whitman died in New York on 19 August 1946, aged 88. He had lived latterly at 71 Park Avenue. He was small and lightly built.

A treatise on orthopaedic surgery. Philadelphia, Lea 1901; 9th edition, 1930.

Sources used to compile this entry: [J Bone Jr Surg 1946, 44, 890, with portrait; J Amer med Ass 1946, 132, 97].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England