American College Of Surgeons - Inspiring Quality: Highest Standards, Better Outcomes

Loyal Davis, MD, FACS (1896-1982)

Loyal Davis, MD, FACS (1896-1982)

Loyal Davis, MD, FACS, is widely known for his contributions in the field of neurological surgery. He was also a prolific writer and the long-time editor of Surgery Gynecology and Obstetrics (SG&O), known today as the Journal of the American College of Surgeons (JACS).

Dr, Davis was born in Galesburg, IL, in 1896, and earned the M.D. degree from Northwestern University in 1918. As a young doctor, he worked with Harvey Cushing, MD, FACS, who is credited with being the founder of the field of neurosurgery. At the age of 36, Dr. Davis was appointed Chairman of the Department of Surgery at Northwestern and continued to serve in that position for over 30 years. He has been said to have found his greatest satisfaction in educating young surgeons.

Dr. Davis  joined the staff of SG&O in 1926. After the untimely death of his mentor Allen B. Kanavel in 1938, he succeeded Dr. Kanavel as editor of SG&O and served in that position until 1981. He became a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons in 1928 during the time that College founder Franklin H. Martin, MD, FACS, served  as ACS President.

Dr, Davis subsequently served on the ACS Board of Regents from 1950 to 1963 (Chairman 1960-1962), and as College President (1962-1963). During his years as a College leader, he spoke out against the unethical practices of fee-splitting (payments from surgeons to referring physician) and the practice of unnecessary surgery.

He was the author of the 1960 history of the American College of Surgeons, Fellowship of Surgeons, which he based largely on the memories, research, and documents compiled by long-time ACS employee Eleanor K. Grimm. (Miss Grimm created the 27-volume compilation in her retirement, after devoting her life to the College and serving it in many major capacities, including those of member of the Administrative Board and editor of College publications.)

Additionally, Dr. Davis was a founding member of the American Board of Surgery (1937). He was senior neurosurgical consultant to the European Theatre of Operations during World War II and received the Legion of Merit in 1945. Among many other honors conferred on him was Honorary Fellowship in the Royal College of Surgeons of England in 1955.


  1. ACS Executive Dept. FACS files
  2. Davis, L. (1973). A Surgeon's Odyssey. Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company.
  3. Davis, L. (1967). From One Surgeon's Notebook. Springfield, Illinois: Charles C. Thomas.
  4. Davis, L. (1967). Fellowship of Surgeons. Springfield, Illinois: Charles C. Thomas.
  5. G.W. Stephenson's biographical files

ACS Archives Highlights is a series showcasing the vibrant history of the American College of Surgeons, its members, and the history of surgery. For further information on our featured highlights, search the Archives Catalog or contact the ACS Archivist.