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CAROLINE HAMPTON HALSTED, AN ECCENTRIC BUT WELL-MA TCHED HELPMA TE DANIEL B. NUNN* On 4 June 1890, at Trinity Episcopal Church in Columbia, South Carolina , Caroline Hampton and Dr. William Stewart Halsted, who became one of the world's greatest surgeons, were married. Halsted's closest friend, Dr. William Welch from New York, soon to be a famous pathologist, was best man. Caroline and Halsted, each from distinguished families, had distinctly different backgrounds, she from the southern planter aristocracy and he from the northern merchant class. The youngest offour children, Caroline was born on 20 November 1861, at Woodlands, a tract ofHampton land adjacent to the renowned Millwood, General Wade Hampton's stately plantation home near Columbia. Her mother, Sally Baxter of New York, died in 1862, and her father, Colonel Frank Hampton, Wade's younger brother, was killed the following year in the Civil War. Reared by three ofher father's sisters in a small house behind the ruins of Millwood, which had been burned by Union troops, she and her sister Lucy went to school at Edgehill near Monticello. Halsted, son of a wealthy wholesale dry goods importer, was born in New York City on 23 September 1852. He graduated from Andover, Yale University , and the College of Physicians and Surgeons; completed an Internship at Bellevue; and served as House Physician to the New York Hospital. After two years ofgraduate study in Europe, in 1880 he began the private practice of surgery in New York City; he also taught anatomy, inaugurated and directed the first outpatient clinic at Roosevelt Hospital, pioneered the use of antiseptic surgical technique, and demonstrated for the first time the local and neuroregional methods of anesthesia. Caroline returned home from school at age 18, and for the next six years she divided her time between Columbia and the Hampton hunting lodge in the North Carolina mountains at Cashiers. She had an affinity for animals, particularly dogs and horses, and was a very skillful equestrienne. Since the *5716 St. Johns Avenue, Jacksonville, FL 32205.© 1998 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved. 0031-5982/98/4104-1072$01.00 Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, 42, 1 ¦ Autumn 1998 | 83 war had left the Hampton family financially bereft, Caroline decided to pursue a career in nursing in New York City, where her maternal grandmother and aunt Lucy (Lu) Baxter resided. In 1885, she began training at Mount Sinai Hospital, but she soon transferred to New York Hospital where she graduated in 1888. She was considered an intelligent student, recognized for her scrupulously accurate work and presence of mind in emergencies . In 1884, Halsted had become addicted to cocaine through experiments on himself, using cocaine as a local anesthetic. Notwithstanding treatment, which involved substitution of morphine for cocaine, this addiction ended his practice, and in December 1886 he accepted an invitation from Welch, the newly appointed Professor of Pathology for Johns Hopkins Hospital, to come to Baltimore and work in his laboratory. When the hospital opened on 7 May 1889, Halsted was Acting Surgeon and, in 1892, he was appointed Surgeon-in-Chief and Professor of Surgery. In May 1889, Caroline moved to Baltimore to work in the surgical division of the newJohns Hopkins Hospital. Because of her expertise and flair for practical and mechanical matters, she was soon appointed head nurse in the operating room. As Halsted's scrub nurse, she was indirectly responsible for the introduction of rubber gloves. In an article on surgical technique , Halsted wrote: In the winter of 1889 and 1890 . . . the nurse in charge of my operating-room complained that the solutions of mercuric chlorid [sic] produced a dermatitis of her arms and hands. As she was an unusually efficient woman, I gave the matter my consideration and one day in New York requested the Goodyear Rubber Company to make as an experiment two pair of thin rubber gloves . . . these proved . . . so satisfactory that additional gloves were ordered [I]. Ultimately, a close personal relationship developed between Caroline and Halsted. On one occasion he invited her and her guests, Miss Sally Carter and Mrs. Haskell, née Lucy Hampton, to his living quarters in the hospital for tea. Miss Carter...


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