Aaron J. Steele Papers


Reference code


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Aaron J. Steele Papers



0.50 Linear Feet

Name of creator


Biographical history

Aaron Steele (1835-1917) was a prominent figure from the early years of the field of orthopedic surgery. Born in Rochester, New York, on November 20, 1835, Steele attended local schools for his baccalaureate education before earning his MD in 1859 from Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia. He became a demonstrator of anatomy at Buffalo Medical College and then served as a surgeon in the Union Army for the extent of the Civil War. In 1867, Steele moved to St. Louis and decided to devote himself entirely to orthopedic surgery, becoming one of the first physicians in the West to limit his practice to this burgeoning field. Steele joined the faculty of Beaumont Medical College – and later Missouri Medical College – as a professor of orthopedic surgery. When the Missouri Medical College merged with the St. Louis Medical College to form the Medical Department of Washington University in 1899, Steele became chair of the Orthopedics Department, a position he retained until 1910.

Steele was also a charter member of the American Orthopedic Association, serving as its president in 1893 and chair of its membership committee from 1895 until 1910. After the death of his two-year-old son and wife, Steele became particularly interested in the treatment of children with physical disabilities. In 1884, his dream of a children’s hospital was realized with the opening of the Augusta Free Children’s Hospital. Space constraints necessitated the sponsorship of a new benefactor and consequently the hospital was renamed the Martha Parsons Free Hospital in 1890. This facility then merged with St. Louis Children’s Hospital in 1910. Steele became bedridden in his advanced age and died in St. Louis on January 7, 1917.

Scope and content

Two diplomas: Humboldt Medical College, 1868; Missouri Medical College, 1898 (honorary).  Also one certificate from the Military Order of the Loyal Legion, 1890 signed by Rutherford Hayes.  See also VC098.

System of arrangement

Conditions governing access

The collection is open and accessible for research.

Technical access

Conditions governing reproduction

Users of the collection should read and abide by the Rights and Permissions guidelines at the Bernard Becker Medical Library Archives.

Users of the collection who wish to cite items from this collection, in whole or in part, in any form of publication must request, sign, and return a Statement of Use form to the Archives.

For detailed information regarding use of this collection, contact the Archives and Rare Book Department of the Becker Library (arb@wusm.wustl.edu).

Preferred Citation:

Item description, Reference Code, Bernard Becker Medical Library Archives, Washington University in St. Louis.

Languages of the material

  • English

Scripts of the material

  • Latin

Language and script notes

Finding aids

Custodial history

Immediate source of acquisition

Gift, 17 April 1986, Thomas Hall, 1986-019: originally classified VC098: Aaron J. Steele diplomas, 1868, 1898, 1890. VC098 is now Washington University School of Medicine Refectory China.

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"Describing Archives: A Content Standard, Second Edition (DACS), 2013."

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Archivist's note

© Copyright 2019 Bernard Becker Medical Library Archives. All rights reserved.

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