ACS Releases New Book on Founder Franklin Martin’s Rural Upbringing

The American College of Surgeons (ACS) recently released a biography of its founder, Franklin H. Martin, MD, FACS, chronicling Dr. Martin’s little-examined rural youth, the values he learned at an early age, and how his upbringing richly influenced his career as a surgeon. The book, Franklin H. Martin, MD, FACS: From Rural Boyhood to Distinguished Surgeon, was written by Gordon L. Telford, MD, FACS, who lives in the same area of southeastern Wisconsin where Dr. Martin was raised.

“This book provides insight into the impact of Dr. Franklin Martin’s early years in Wisconsin on his later accomplishments and hypothesizes that his rural upbringing helped him become a great leader,” said Dr. Telford. Dr. Martin was raised in Ixonia Township in rural Wisconsin, where he spent time in Oconomowoc, Watertown, and Ixonia. During that time, he developed the character, self-confidence, and other qualities that helped him become a statesman for surgery. In his early years, he worked on his grandfather’s farm and later as a farm laborer, brick maker, janitor, schoolteacher, and millwright. He never lost his work ethic—something that stayed with him throughout his illustrious career as a successful physician, administrator, and leader.

The book includes 17 chapters, beginning with Dr. Martin’s family background and concluding with a look at the lifelong process of becoming a leader and other successful surgeons who benefited from a rural upbringing.

“He, like his family members, worked to the point of exhaustion. Years later, as an administrator, no matter how stressful his workday was, he recalled that the days in the fields and brickyard were much more exhausting and stressful,” Dr. Telford writes in the book’s introduction. “Martin learned that hard work yielded results, and he never lost that drive.

”Dr. Martin went on to graduate from Chicago Medical School, IL, in 1880, and later founded the journal Surgery, Gynecology, and Obstetrics (now the Journal of the American College of Surgeons) in 1905, the Clinical Congress of the Surgeons of North America in 1910, and the ACS in 1913, all of which are still thriving a century later. Additionally, Dr. Martin co-founded the Post-Graduate Medical School and Hospital in Chicago and developed the ACS hospital standardization program, which in 1952 led to the formation of what is today known as The Joint Commission. He also served on the Advisory Commission of the Council of National Defense in preparation for World War I.

Dr. Telford is emeritus professor of surgery, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, where he was chief of surgery, Zablocki Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and attending surgeon, Froedtert Memorial Lutheran Hospital and served as chief, division of minimally invasive/gastrointestinal surgery. He was chief surgical consultant for Veterans Affairs Hospitals in the Upper Midwest and chairman of the National Council of Chiefs of Surgery. He has served on a number of ACS committees.

The book is available for purchase or as a free PDF download for ACS members in the ACS E-Store. Learn more on the ACS website. The book also will be available on and in select bookstores in Oconomowoc and Watertown, WI.

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