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New history of ACS Bulletin reflects history of the College


To celebrate the centennial of the Bulletin of the American College of Surgeons (ACS), David L. Nahrwold, MD, FACS, has written a history of the ACS member magazine, titled, “A Mirror Reflecting Surgery, Surgeons, and their College: The Bulletin of the American College of Surgeons.”

“After studying the history of the College and the content of 100 years of Bulletins,” writes Dr. Nahrwold in the book’s foreword, “I soon realized that the Bulletin has conveyed the remarkable story of how the College and its members laid the foundation for our healthcare system.”

The Bulletin began in 1916 as a series of single-subject bulletins to the Fellowship from the College’s founders. The first issue described the mission of the College, listed the requirements for admission to Fellowship, and included a packet of blank case history forms for candidates to fill out and submit with their application. Subsequent issues established hospital standards, summarized external and internal meetings and conferences, and reported on credentialing, record keeping, education, specialization, ACS finances and structure, public health issues, scientific advances, international relations, and military surgery, among other subjects.

The book covers the history of the magazine through the end of World War II, and illuminates the background, concerns, and personalities of the College’s founders and leaders as they explained and defended their actions to the members and determined what role the ACS would play in the practice of surgery.

“Given the unpredictable fates of periodicals,” Dr. Nahrwold writes, “it is remarkable – indeed astonishing – that this mirror, the Bulletin, has not only existed, but has thrived, for one hundred years. Its fortunes, of course, have been tied to those of the College, but its editors and staff have continuously adjusted the mirror to make it informative, pertinent, and interesting, and its readers have found deep within the mirror a reservoir of truthfulness, accuracy, and good taste.”

Dr. Nahrwold is Emeritus Professor of Surgery at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, IL, where he was the Loyal and Edith Davis Professor and Chairman, department of surgery, and surgeon-in-chief, Northwestern Memorial Hospital. He served as a Regent, Chairman of the Board of Governors, First Vice-President, and Interim Director of the ACS, and in 2001 he received its highest honor – the Distinguished Service Award. He represented the College at The Joint Commission, where he was chairman of the Board of Commissioners.

He was a director and chairman of the American Board of Surgery and president of the American Board of Medical Specialties.

Dr. Nahrwold is co-author, with Peter J. Kernahan, MD, PhD, FACS, of “A Century of Surgeons and Surgery: The American College of Surgeons 1913-2012.”

“A Mirror Reflecting Surgery, Surgeons, and their College” is available for purchase for $15.95 at

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