Chase Library Artifact of the Month: Bunnell's Medical Bag

Chase Library

This monogramed leather medical bag belonged to Sterling Bunnell, MD, a pioneer of hand surgery and the first President of ASSH. The contents of the bag include bandages, sutures, tools, and a few medicines.  These basic supplies do not indicate the significant special knowledge and research into hand surgery, for which Bunnell is best known.  

Bunnell developed several important surgical techniques for use on the hand in his private practice throughout the 1920s and 1930s.  During World War II, Bunnell put his knowledge to work healing wartime injuries to the hand by creating specialized hand facilities at Army hospitals, where he instructed others in the operations needed to salvage the hand and upper extremity.  Near the end of the war, Bunnell published the seminal text, Surgery of the Hand, a major contribution to medical discourse that defined a new field of surgery.

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