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February 11, 1950

Lawson Tait 1845-1899

JAMA. 1950;142(6):448-449. doi:10.1001/jama.1950.02910240066031

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Abstract

The place of Lawson Tait in the history of gynecology has been a matter of dispute. To most of his contemporaries, he was a surgical swashbuckler whose wholesale "spaying" of women was a blot on the honor of the profession. Moreover, no less a medical historian than Fielding Garrison dismissed him as "a forcible, effective, frequently coarse, not entirely truthful, but always amusing writer." On the other hand, William J. Mayo called him "the father of modern abdominal surgery" and Joseph Price said: "In pelvic surgery Tait stood first and taught us the best we know."

This small volume, published on the fiftieth anniversary of Tait's death, sets forth the factual evidence on both sides of the question, and the reader may draw his own conclusions. That Tait was on the wrong side of many issues cannot be denied, and his wrathful outbursts against Listerism and animal experimentation, as well

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