Chevalier Jackson

Born 1865
Died 1958

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American laryngologist, born November 4, 1865, Pittsburgh; died August 16, 1958, Philadelphia.

Biography of Chevalier Jackson

Chevalier Jackson was the son of William S. Jackson (1829-1890) and Katherine Ann Morange Jackson (born 1836). Chevalier Jackson and his brothers, Stanford and Shirls, grew up in a family hard hit by poverty. At an early age, he learned woodworking skills and later the decoration of china and glassware. In this way, Jackson earned the funds necessary to enter Western University of Pennsylvania (later the University of Pittsburgh), where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree, and Jefferson Medical College, where he graduated in 1886. Also during his summer vacations, he sold medical books and even served as a galley cook on a fishing schooner.

Following graduation, Jackson opened practice in Pittsburgh and turned to the study of laryngology. He read extensively and also attended the clinics presented by Drs. Jacob Solis-Cohen (1838-1927), Charles Eucharist de Medicis Sajous (1852-1929), and Louis Jurist. In order to learn more, he sailed to Europe where he briefly attended various clinics and spent some time with the British specialist Sir Morell McKenzie (1837-1892).

Returning to the United States in 1887, Jackson practiced his specialty. In 1910 he was appointed Professor of Laryngology at the University of Pittsburgh. His appointment was largely based upon his efforts in introducing and improving broncho- and oesophagoscopy, particularly the removal of foreign bodies in the respiratory and gastric tract, as well as his work on cancer in the larynx.

In 1911 it was discovered that Jackson suffered from pulmonary tuberculosis. It was diagnosed at an early stage and he limited his activities, but nevertheless in 1913 he suffered a pulmonary menorrhage that required complete rest.

He abandoned his Pittsburgh tenure in 1916, when Jefferson Medical College offered him the professorship of laryngology and by 1924, he achieved the position of Professor of Bronchoesophalogy and Esophagology, and Department Head. In addition he held parallel appointment at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School (1919-1930), as well as honorary professor of Broncho-Esophagology at both Temple University and Women's Medical College of Pennsylvania. Jackson was also President of the latter institution from 1935-1941. At Temple University Jackson founded a clinic in his name.

Jackson introduced many improved techniques for bronchoscopy, oesophagoscopy and gastroscopy. and was successful in removing dangerous foreign bodies with the medical instruments and techniques he designed. Jackson retired from his chair at Jefferson in 1930, aged 65, and five year later from the clinic.

As a professor, Jackson was able to showcase some of his artistic talent with chalk and oil paint illustrations of various broncho-oesophagological conditions.

During the 1920s, Jackson began a crusade to spread knowledge of preventive measures in order to protect children from inhaling foreign objects. Of all things that could cause an obstruction to the oesophagus, the one that anguished him most was stricture in children due to swallowing lye. Because of this he campaigned for the passage of a federal law to control lye and other hazardous substances available to children. This led to the passage of the Federal Caustic Labeling Act of 1927, which required labels on all poisonous substances.

Jackson developed a bronchoscope that could be passed through the larynx to visualize the bronchi, "the first tube laryngoscope with its own light". In 1915 he revolutionized supraglottic surgery when he used a laryngoscope and a punch biopsy to remove an epiglottic tumor.

In 1899, Jackson married Alice B. White (d. 1957). Their son, Chevalier Lawrence Jackson (1900-1961) was Professor of Bronchoscopy and Esophagology at Temple University School of Medicine and head of the Temple University Clinic.

During his lifetime, Jackson authored twelve textbooks, four monographs, and over four hundred medical articles.

    «All that wheezes is not asthma.» Boston Medical Quarterly, 1865; 16: 86.

    «In teaching the medical student the primary requisite is to keep him awake.»
    The Life of Chevalier Jackson, chapter 16.

    "A physician without knowledge of pulmonary function is like a donut without a hole."

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