Biographical / Historical
Chevalier Jackson, a physician and an American pioneer in the field of endoscopy, was born November 14, 1865 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and died August 16, 1958 in Philadelphia. His father, William Stanford Jackson, was a stock raiser and veterinarian. His mother was Katherine Ann Morage. Family financial reverses forced a move to Crafton, Pennsylvania, a working class community. Young Chevalier was not readily accepted by his classmates and seemed to have had a difficult time during his school years there. Money earned by decorating glass and pottery enabled Chevalier Jackson to attend the University of Western Pennsylvania (University of Pittsburgh) from 1878 to 1882. He then apprenticed himself to a local physician, Gilmore Foster. Continuing to paint china at night he earned enough to enroll at the Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia in 1884, from which he graduated in 1886. During vacations he sold medical books and served as a cook on a fishing boat. Following his graduation from Jefferson Dr. Jackson went to England to pursue his interest in laryngology under a world-famous authority, Morell Mackenzie.
Upon his return to Pittsburgh, Dr. Jackson opened an office limited to the practice of laryngology. His patients were mostly indigent and income from the practice was limited. In 1890 he devised an instrument to remove a dental plate that a patient had swallowed. The news of this meant referral of other patients with similar problems that caused obstruction of the esophagus, including blockages in children from swallowing lye. From that time on Dr. Jackson carried on an unremitting campaign to have lye bottles labeled as poison, until in 1927 Congress passed the Federal Caustic Labeling Act.
On July 9, 1899, Chevalier Jackson and Alice Bennett White were married. They had one child, Chevalier Lawrence Jackson, who also became a surgeon. In the year of his marriage, Dr. Jackson developed a bronchoscope that could be passed through the larynx to visualize the bronchi. He became chief of laryngology at Western Medical College in 1900. In 1902 he adapted a suggestion of placing a light carrier at the far ends of the scopes used in bronchscopy and esophagoscopy, thus making those procedures relatively safe. He and a machinist friend built the instruments in the friend's shop in Pittsburgh.
Dr. Jackson developed tuberculosis in 1911. He spent the two years of convalescence writing an important text book, Peroral Endoscopy and Laryngeal Surgery, published in 1915, the year he was made head of the Department of Laryngology at Jefferson Medical College. Appointments at the Graduate School of Medicine of the University of Pennsylvania followed, and his 1930 appointment to the faculty at Temple meant that Chevalier Jackson held simultaneous appointments at five Philadelphia schools. He later relinquished all appointments except the chair at Temple from which he retired in 1938 to be succeeded by his son, Chevalier Lawrence Jackson. From 1935 to 1941 Chevalier Jackson was president of the Women's College of Pennsylvania. An early advocate of equal rights, he championed the role of women in medicine.
During his noted career Dr. Jackson wrote 250 papers, twelve text books, chapters in a number of other books, and an autobiography (1938). He was somewhat eccentric. He protected his hands by wearing silk gloves, even in summer, turned doorknobs by placing his hand in his coat pocket, preferred bowing to shaking hands, and developed a reputation for social aloofness.