D. Hayes Agnew
(1818 - 1892)
Esteemed medical educator and surgeon D. Hayes Agnew (M 1838) appreciated the importance of dissection in the training of a surgeon. After a period of years away from Philadelphia – that included time away from medicine – he returned to the city in 1848 and went to great lengths, including late-night runs to Potter’s Field, to find bodies for cadavers. By 1852 he had the expertise to purchase and direct the Philadelphia School of Anatomy for private anatomy instruction and two years later opened the Philadelphia School of Operative Surgery. With his reputation as a first-rate anatomist and surgeon, Agnew soon earned appointments as surgeon at Philadelphia Hospital and lecturer in surgery and demonstrator in anatomy at Penn. He advanced to professor of both clinical and demonstrative surgery in 1871 and six years later became the first to hold the newly founded John Rhea Barton Professorship of Surgery. When an assassin shot President James Garfield in 1881, Agnew was called to Washington to treat the mortally wounded president. The graduating Class of 1889 led a fundraising campaign to commission artist Thomas Eakins to paint The Agnew Clinic as their beloved mentor retired from teaching that year.