black women

The So-Called “Father of Modern Gynecology” Actually Tortured Slaves, Killed Babies, Says Professor

By  | 

J Marion Sims - Gynecologic Surgeon

By: Dr. Jomo Mutegi

The Tale. This is the tale of two physicians whose lives in some respects are eerily similar. Both were born in Lancaster County, South Carolina in the early 1800s. Both attended Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia, PA. Both practiced gynecology, and both are remembered for their work with enslaved African women. This is largely where the similarities end. The remainder of the tale shows two physicians in stark contrast.

The Contrast. The first physician is renowned as a surgical genius and is regarded as the father of modern gynecology. He served as president of the American Medical Association, the International Medical Congress and the American Gynecological Society. He is honored by having his name placed on hospitals, dormitories, and endowed chairs. A monument is erected in his honor on the State House grounds in Columbia, SC. The monument reads, “He founded the science of gynecology was honored in all lands and died with the benediction of mankind. The first surgeon of the ages in ministry to women, treating alike empress and slave.”

By contrast, the second physician is considered by many to be more of a butcher than a surgeon. He never completed his studies at Jefferson Medical College. In his incompetence, he killed his first patient. According to his own journal, “When I arrived I found a child about eighteen months old, very much emaciated, who had what we would call the summer complaint, or chronic diarrhea. I examined the child minutely from head to foot. I looked at its gums, and as I always carried a lancet with me and had surgical propensities, as soon as I saw some swelling of the gums I at once took out my lancet and cut the gums down to the teeth. This was good so far as it went. But, when it came time to making up a prescription, I had no more ideas of what ailed the child, or what to do for it, than if I had never studied medicine.” He killed his second patient (another infant) in a similar manner. After the death of his second patient he fled South Carolina, and moved to Alabama where he began to abuse African women and babies in the name of “medical practice.” He was known to use a shoemaker’s awl to pry the bones of African infant skulls into “proper alignment.” He was known to conduct surgery on the genitalia of African women without using anesthesia.

The Shocking Truth. If you are not familiar with this story, then it may come as a shock that these physicians are in fact the same person: J. Marion Sims. By any objective account J. Marion Sims was a butcher. He performed the most horrific, acts of barbarism on African people. He built a makeshift 16-bed “hospital” to house the slaves that he used as experimental subjects. He operated on one enslaved African woman, named Anarcha, over 30 times. Although Sims never used anesthesia prior to cutting on these women, he often gave them opium following the procedures. After being drugged on opium, they moved very little, which aided their recovery. Sims often made a public spectacle of cutting on these women and did so as demonstrations for other physicians. The other physicians would frequently be called upon to hold the women down as they writhed in pain. On one occasion the physicians observing left the procedure as the cries from the woman being cut upon were so dreadful.

The Makeover. So, if Sims treatment of Anarcha and other enslaved Africans is so barbaric, why is he so highly honored? Enter Robert Thom an illustrator born in 1915 in Grand Rapids, MI. Mr. Thom was commissioned by Parke-Davis Pharmaceuticals to create a series of paintings depicting “Great Moments in Medicine” and “Great Moments in Pharmaceuticals.” He created these works between 1948 and 1964. One of those paintings was J. Marion Sims: Gynecologic Surgeon. It depicted a very stately Sims, a very demure African patient, and a set of willing assistants. Absent were the torture instruments that Sims admits to creating. Absent was any indication that the facilities were makeshift. The painting gives no indication that the waiting victim was apprehensive, that the other physicians were reluctant or that Sims was incompetent. Thom through his painting provides a patently false misrepresentation of history. But Thom’s misrepresentation is not confined to this one portrait. Thom prepared 85 portraits for Parke-Davis. Among his other misrepresentations is Hippocrates as the father of medicine (with no reference to the African Imhotep that preceded him). In another he presents Joseph Lister as the founder of antisepsis (with no mention of the African medical texts that describe the use of antisepsis over 2,000 years before Lister). Whether we look at Thom’s depiction of Galen, Lavoisier, Jenner, or The Temples and Cult of Asclepius, we will see artistic misrepresentations of history that are rife with inaccuracy.

I am compelled to share here one final cautionary note. Thom did not act alone in making J. Marion the Butcher into a highly respected figure. Parke-Davis Pharmaceuticals conceptualized and funded his artwork. The members of the American Medical Association, the International Medical Congress and the American Gynecological Society elected him president to their respective organizations. The legislature of the State of South Carolina (and ultimately its citizens) support the monument erected in his honor. Every member of every organization who in any way honors Sims is complicit in the makeover.

The Fix. There is a Kenyan proverb which states that, “Until lions start writing down their own stories, the hunters will always be heroes.” Friends, you are lions! Write our story. Draw our story. Paint our story. Sculpt our story. Do so without reservation, without qualification, and without hesitation. Give our people the tools that we need to tell our story!


Jomo W. Mutegi, Ph.D.  is an Associate Professor of Science Education at the Indiana University School of Education in Indianapolis. He is also director of Sankoré Institute, a company that produces science and mathematics related activities and curricula for African American families. To learn more about Sankoré Institute visit:


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  1. avatar

    Glenn Krasner

    September 20, 2013 at 10:04 pm

    America’s Dr. Mengele! Instead of being celebrated, he should have been executed. Glenn in the Bronx, NY.

    • avatar


      September 21, 2013 at 2:59 am

      And yet,even after reading this horrific story most of our people will go to church on Sunday and again pray to a white man.

      • avatar

        Lifei Long

        September 21, 2013 at 8:04 am

        It goes to show Mental Servitude among African-Americans is never ending.

      • avatar


        September 22, 2013 at 11:09 am

        God is a holy spirit, spirits have no color…

      • avatar


        September 25, 2013 at 11:42 pm

        first of all jesus is not white,or black,or jew.A man father determines what race he is.god was not
        a jew,he was the god of the jews,like he was our god from the beginning of time before our
        ancestors rebellion. i know jesus from a secret personal relationship through him reavealing
        himself through holiness,not through your so called white flesh,and secndly how jesus be white
        when the father above is the holy spirit.we had our chance at the beginning,and now its about to
        be our chance again after all the atrocities.

        • avatar


          September 27, 2013 at 4:00 pm

          Amen!!! Good word.

      • avatar


        November 5, 2013 at 5:47 am

        If Jesus really lived he would look more like an Arabic person then the so called ‘whites’ you are talking about. You people fight so hard for ‘equal’ rights that you are racist to, you also put labels on people, especially white people. Am I really the one to blame for what happened in the past? There is a lot of racism in the world, not only against black people but against all kinds of races, religions, sex, poor and rich. Humanity still has a long way to go, does it have to change? Definitely, but don’t judge those who can’t help it. The majority can’t make a difference, they all act in what they think is good or bad.

        • avatar

          De Mush Doctor

          June 25, 2014 at 11:42 am

          Yes there is racism all over, mostly or 85%-90% is white against black people.White folks haunt black from the cradle to the grave 24/7, no let up.

      • avatar

        Fantasia Owens

        November 6, 2013 at 10:21 am

        Jesus became white in the same way this Dr. Sims became a hero….the misrepresentation of a painter. The current visual image of biblical figures was born in the Italian Renaissance. An artist choose models from their community that they felt depicted the virtues of deity, piety, and evil to be rendered on canvas. Jesus was a person of middle eastern heritage. A person of color. As such he was no more white than other middle eastern you would come across today.

      • avatar

        De Mush Doctor

        June 21, 2014 at 5:16 pm

        You got that right Big will. We will continue to kiss white man Jesus’es ass ’till the black rubs off of our skin, no doubt.

  2. avatar


    September 20, 2013 at 10:26 pm

    These devils are natural borne killers,beware!

  3. avatar


    September 21, 2013 at 1:09 am

    I can believe every word of this uncovered truth.

  4. avatar

    Robert Hardy Jr

    September 21, 2013 at 4:34 am

    This story by Dr. Mutegi was eye opening and by me appreciated. It never ceases to amaze me of how barbaric whites have been and continue to be, not only to black people but to others here in the human race. This all really leaves me speechless when any thought is contemplated about how whites have treated black people.

  5. avatar

    Ricki Stevenson

    September 21, 2013 at 5:26 am

    Read the book “Germany’s Black Holocaust:1890-1945″
    Historian Dr. Firpo Carr writes 12 million
    Africans were exterminated by Germans
    In their take over of South West Africa (Namibia)
    in early 1900s. Africans who resisted were forced
    Into concentration camps where Germans
    perfected New forms of genocide they later used
    on Jews: mass executions, mass lynchings,
    diabolical medical experiments on children
    and horrific gynecological experiments on
    hundreds of thousands of African women.
    Millions killed because they revolted against
    injustices and atrocities committed against
    them by German invaders! Know your history!

  6. avatar

    Lifei Long

    September 21, 2013 at 8:05 am

    If we (Black Folk) do not educate our people, no one else never will…and history will repeat it self.

  7. avatar


    September 21, 2013 at 9:49 am

    if any looking at God and see a color then u don’t know who are what God is remember we were created in his image Our spirit is void of color ur actions are not. True believer

  8. avatar


    September 21, 2013 at 9:55 am

    I am no longer shock in what people can do too each other i’m glad this came out evil has a strong grip on us. keep tabs on the amount of people been kill every day for what ever reason yes my friends go to church trusted in God but ur fellow man ?

    • avatar


      September 27, 2013 at 3:58 pm

      I know what you want to say. I totally agree with you. There will always be evil, because the devil is a roaring lion seeking who he will devour. I believe God has great things for black people and the devil is mad, because he knows that blacks will be among those whom God has chosen to rule over him. We are accustomed to suffering, so if we have to get what is rightfully ours by suffering we MUST

  9. avatar

    Raad and think!

    September 21, 2013 at 2:41 pm

    Slavery was wrong and I’m NOT shocked at all. If you can take a race of people out of their homeland rape, rob, kill, enslaved, change name and tell them is fault ; why would anyone be shocked poor medical pratice.

  10. avatar

    Raad and think!

    September 21, 2013 at 2:42 pm

    Correct -and tell them is there fault.

  11. avatar

    icantcontinue reading

    September 21, 2013 at 4:23 pm

    All of this makes me wonder all the more how a black man can abandon the descendants(daughters) of these poor, poor victims, and lay down with the daughters of those cold hearted culprits. Please partake in the healing and not the continued hurt. We need each other. Every other ethnicity takes pride in loving , nurturing and caring for 1 another; whilst we advocate for the breakdown of our own existence . Wake up people!!

    • avatar

      WOW, WOW, WOW

      September 21, 2013 at 7:58 pm


  12. avatar

    voice without a face

    September 21, 2013 at 5:17 pm

    People of color

  13. avatar

    Ajali Shabazz

    September 21, 2013 at 5:53 pm

    It’s so heartening to read how many of us GET THIS. Only thing left is to realize both races are allergic to each other and must separate. Not s-e-g-r-e-g-a-t-e which is one party cordoning off another, but a voluntary acceptance that we’ll NEVER get along. It’s not racist to face FACTS.

    • avatar

      olivia pope

      September 24, 2013 at 6:15 pm

      I couldn’t agree more. We were better off in our own neighborhoods respecting and patronizing each other. Look what integration got us.

  14. avatar


    September 21, 2013 at 6:40 pm

    Wow. Don’t be surprised now Elijah Muhammad,Malcolm X,Carter G. Woodson,Minister Farrakhan have been telling you for decades that whites aren’t going to give a Black man or woman nothing but hell. They only tell lies and there is no truth in them.

  15. avatar


    September 21, 2013 at 7:50 pm

    I agree with the barbarians but praying to a white Jesus…How do you get a white man out of a Jewish Nazarene? smh Whew What book are they educating themselves from?

  16. avatar


    September 21, 2013 at 7:52 pm

    all of this and is still goingon, while the black men are marrying their white women making little half black kids. we have no black men to stand up for us anymore. they are to busy having with white women. but don’t worry the white s will bring you white women lovers down, then you will run back to us with you dumb head down. wake the hell up black men!!!!!!!!!!!!!! there was times when we as black people got together and had so much fun, now you all let the whites take all of that away by you humping their white girls. wow what a hot mess!!!!!!!!!!!! go home to your real black family, you are only being used.

    • avatar

      De Mush Doctor

      June 24, 2014 at 7:47 pm

      So, who keeps taking the black children to church to worship the fantasy WHITE MAN JESUS, and allowing the slave master’s Church to indoctrinate them with the white man’s superiority black man’s inferiority complex… I wonder? Mostly his black mother! that’s who it is. When I try to have a conversation with most black women I meet, all I hear constantly is that “white man Jesus is lord” and we must worship this (our slave master) so called “LORD” character. I refuse to go along with such mind altering madness…period!
      So black women, if you want to connect with free thinking intelligent black men, you would have to eradicate all of this dogmatic religious garbage out of your head if you would like to be respected desired.

  17. avatar


    September 22, 2013 at 12:23 pm

    To learn more I highly recommend purchasing Tariq Nasheed’s production “Hidden Colors” I & II. The both documentaries gives you the “what”, “why”, “who”, & “when” on everything from genocide to the economics of a black race. It has many solutions and also be on the lookout for Hidden Colors III in 2014. Knowledge is Power! Peace & Love to all.

    • avatar


      September 24, 2013 at 4:14 pm

      There is a Hidden Colors 3 coming out next year.

    • avatar


      September 29, 2013 at 6:32 am

      While there are some good points you must know that Tariq Nasheed is a womanizing pimp. He teaches via lectures on how to play women. He means women no good. Borrow Hidden Colors, do not buy it. You will be mad that he blames women for the state of the community and continues to bash Sisters. He’s a punk.

  18. avatar


    September 22, 2013 at 3:25 pm

    Actually, Jesus was not a white man, he would have been a brown man, like most of the Arab world.

    • avatar

      im not jesus

      October 12, 2013 at 10:50 am

      No that can’t be right,did u no white is the appance of color only black is the father of all colors! Hay wait black is the (father) of color all colors think on that in the beginning it’s been sad their was nothing and nothing was made,out of the (dark) came the light! U can only get white out of black and u can only get light out of darkness can u see the light of all men born is his and wo-men we all are mankind!

  19. avatar


    September 23, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    Read Medical Apartheid by K. Washington. It covers this and more.

  20. avatar


    September 27, 2013 at 3:54 pm

    After reading all the comments, I understand the hurt and the pain we blacks feel against the invaders. I have a problem understanding why we have been so targeted? We look at the Chinese, they are not more attractive than us, East Indians are not as strong. What I conclude is that, all this boils down to a human problem. We human beings will always s find ways to hurt each other, especially when we feel insecure and threatened. Look what happened in Kenya recently, and other tribal wars; look what happened in all of Europe. Man’s inhumanity to man.
    We are a very visible people therefore it is easy to target us. It’s a bullying nature – satanic at best. We must therefore learn to train our young men to respect their women and love their children and our women to raise up themselves with dignity. This world is ours too, we are used to suffering, so rise up and take what we can respectfully.

  21. avatar


    September 29, 2013 at 6:59 pm

    Wow. Great information. This needs to be passed on to our youths.

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    October 5, 2013 at 2:07 am

    that iS 1QFUCKING CRAZY! HOW DARE ANYONE TO GIVE CRIDIT TO THIS MAN WHEN ALL HE WAS WAS A MURDER. PEOPLE WE NEED TO WAKE UP. WE ARE LIVING IN A NEW AGE. YES THERE IS STILL RACIST PEOPLE OUT THERE BUT IF YOU WORK HARD FOR WHAT YOU WANT TO BE AND GO TO SCHOOL THAT IS ONE THING NO MAN CAN TAKE AWAY FROM. STAND UP AND MAKE THE AFRICAN AMERICAN PEOPLE LOOK LIKE THERE SOMEONE. OUR PRESIDENT IS BLACK AND WE HAVE A LOT MORE TO OFFER THEN THEY WANT TO GIVE US CREDIT FOR. THE TIME IS NOW. WE HAVE TO SAY BECAUSE SOME OF OUR PEERS SAG THERE PANTS WED DON;T. EDUCATION IS THE MOST POWERFUL THING WE HAVE. THEY CAN NEVER Take that away from us. keep strong and pray. we were made by God so we have the divine right to do school. i know school is hared and i know things get in your way but once it done. you will live the life God haves promise to you. if you like my comment. i would love to talk to more people about it. my email is …… take that stand everyone and do and be the best you can be and do the best you can be. goodnight everyone.

    • avatar

      De Mush Doctor

      June 24, 2014 at 7:58 pm

      The problem is that we black people have been on our swollen knees too damn long praying to our slave masters, begging them to free us from ourselves. Prayer has not done anything positive for black people…ever!
      Get up off of your knees and physically get the job done by kicking ass…period!
      No more praying on our knees with eyes closed so that Europeans can continue to PREY on us.

  24. avatar


    November 5, 2013 at 1:21 pm

    Thanks for sharing this moving reality that many (of us) do not see but many (of them) know well. To right a wrong….we must respond with this knowledge just as you have done here. We hold these truths to be self evident….that we as African Americans have suffered greatly which impacts us today.

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    November 7, 2013 at 2:45 pm

    Thank you for sharing this! I was just talking about the Reproductive System in my BioMed Terminology class.

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    December 16, 2013 at 4:47 pm

    Dr. Harriet Washington did an outstanding job of researching and documenting these inexplicable horrors committed against Black women in the name of “science” in her book – “MEDICAL APARTHEID: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present.” The same evils were committed against women in African and Diaspora. Today there is FORCED sterilization against women of color – globally.

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    June 22, 2014 at 6:29 pm

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    June 23, 2014 at 1:22 am

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    July 4, 2014 at 5:36 am

    Jesus had skin of bronze and hair of lambs wool. And I will continue to worship God as prayer has gotten me plenty!
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