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Object Number 2012.006.001
Object Name Diary
Title A Surgical Diary of Viet Nam, 1969
Scope & Content Diary with descriptions and drawings chronicling J. William Littler's hand surgery work in Viet Nam from May 31, 1969 - June 29, 1969.
Dates of Creation 1969
Creator Littler, William
Collection Chase, Robert
Subjects Covered Hand Surgery
Viet Nam Hand Surgery Program
Exhibit Label Title Early Pioneers: James William Littler, MD
Exhibit Label Text James William Littler, MD (1915-2005) was a surgeon who developed many techniques for restoring function and sensation to the fingers and wrist. Dr. Littler's early devotion to hand surgery contributed to its emergence as a separate discipline. Dr. Littler received his bachelor's degree and medical degree at Duke University. After a medical internship at John Hopkins Hospital, he enlisted in the Army.

During World War II, he operated on soldiers at Cushing General Hospital, near Boston, and later at Valley Forge Army Hospital in Pennsylvania. Though he had yet to complete his residency training, he began shaping and refining surgical techniques still in use today. He worked on new ways to reconstruct missing thumbs, including replacing them with parts of forefingers, and he transplanted healthy bundles of nerves and arteries to areas that had lost feeling, a procedure known as sensory neurovascular island transfer. To revive arms and hands paralyzed by nerve damage, he transferred tendons from areas that were unharmed.

In 1946, he helped found the American Society for Surgery of the Hand (ASSH). In the 1950s, Dr. Littler founded the hand surgery unit at what is now St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center, a teaching hospital of Columbia College Physicians and Surgeons. Now called the C.V. Starr Hand Surgery Center, the unit was the first to devote itself to civilian hand injuries, according to the hospital. Hundreds of hand surgeons trained there under Dr. Littler. He served as ASSH president from 1962 to 1963.
Associated People Littler, William
Keyword Search Terms Littler, William
Hand Surgery
Viet Nam Hand Surgery Program
Early Pioneers
2012 Chase Library Exhibit