James Marion Sims

Black and white photograph of J. Marion Sims

J. Marion Sims (January 25, 1813 - November 13, 1883). Wikimedia Commons.

(1813-1883)  Sims was born in Lancaster, SC to Jack Sims and Mahala Mackey Sims. He attended South Carolina College (now the University of South Carolina) and  earned a medical degree from Philadelphia's Jefferson Medical College. Sims opened a practice in Lancaster, but it failed within the year after two infants under his treatment died.  He then set out for the frontier region of western Alabama where he married Theresa Jones and they had nine children.  Sims began his career as a controversial figure in gynecology with his treatment of enslaved women using opium to render them addicted and immobile for the surgery.  Sims is credited with creating the Sims duck-billed speculum which allows greater visibility for the doctor when examining female patients.  

Sims often suffered from bouts of malaria and other maladies and moved to Paris.  Eventually he returned to the United States and maintained a successful private practice. He is buried in Brooklyn, NY.