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American Medical Biographies/Yandell, David Wendel

Yandell, David Wendel (1826–1898)

He was M. D., LL. D. (University of Louisville); soldier of the Civil War (South Carolina); medical director of the Department of the West; professor of clinical surgery University of Louisville; editor and founder of the American Practitioner; president of the American Medical Association; surgeon-general of the troops of Kentucky; president of the American Surgical Association; pioneer in clinical teaching in the west; honorary fellow, and corresponding member of the Medico-Chirurgical Society of Edinburgh and fellow of the Medical Society of London.

Dr. Yandell was born at Craggy Bluff, Tennessee, on the fourth of September, 1826. The ancestors of the Yandells came from England and settled in South Carolina, in Colonial days. His father was Lunsford Pitts Yandell (q.v.), a pioneer in medical education in the West; his mother was Susan Juliet Wendel, a daughter of David Wendel, of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. After a course at Centre College, Danville, he studied medicine at the University of Louisville, and graduated in 1846. That year he went to Europe, where he continued his studies for nearly two years and wrote two series of letters (one secular, the other medical) which established his reputation as a writer. In 1850 he was made demonstrator of anatomy in the University of Louisville. About this time he established the "Stokes Dispensary," the first clinical institution in the west, and later was elected to the chair of clinical medicine in the University. When the Civil War began Yandell became a soldier in the Confederate Army, and was made medical director of the department of the West, by Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston, and was in the battles of Shiloh, Murfreesboro, and Chickamauga. In 1867 he was elected to the chair of the science and practice of medicine in the University of Louisville, and in 1869 took there the chair of clinical surgery. As a teacher of clinical surgery he had few rivals.

In operating he cut to the line and to the required depth with geometrical precision. His dissections were artistic, and he found his way through the labyrinthine surgical spaces with certainty and safety. His dressings were beautiful, while his treatment of wounds, surgical and accidental, was characterized by a scrupulous cleanliness, which in post bellum days was prophetic of aseptic surgery. In 1870, in conjunction with Theophilus Parvin (q.v.), he established The American Practitioner, which held high place in medical literature for sixteen years (1886), when it was combined with the Medical News, under the name American Practitioner and News. He was editor-in-chief of this journal till the year of his death. All his writings were forceful, terse, and condensed. One of his own papers, published in the second volume of the Practitioner, is a classic. This is an analysis of 415 cases of tetanus.

His nature was gentle and affectionate; his liberality and benevolence conspicuous. He married Francis Jane Crutcher, of Nashville, Tennessee, in 1851, and had four children, a son and three daughters. He died in Louisville, Monday, the second of May, 1898, of arterio-sclerosis, his last illness stretching over a period of five years. During the last two years his mind was a blank.

His contributions to literature include:

"Notes on Medical Matters and Medical Men in London and Paris," Louisville, 1848; "Reply to the Attack of Dr. E. S. Gaillard" (American Practitioner, Louisville, 1871); "A Clinical Lecture on the Use of Plastic Dressing in Fractures of Lower Extremity," 1876; "Pioneer Surgery in Kentucky;" a sketch, 1890; "Temperament," an address, 1892; "Battey's Operation," 1875.