Melvin Starkey Henderson

Melvin Starkey Henderson

Melvin Starkey Henderson (1883–1954) was an American orthopedic surgeon, who was born in St. Paul, Minnesota.


Upon his father's death, he went to Winnipeg, Manitoba to live with relatives, the family of Edward Drewry and owner of the Drewry Brewery. There he received the generous financial support to continue his undergraduate college and medical degrees from the University of Toronto. He returned to the US and interned at the County Hospital in St. Paul, and in 1907 went to work in Rochester, MN as a surgical assistant with the Mayo brothers practice, William James and Charles Horace Mayo. He worked closely with Will Mayo, and in keeping with his preference and skill as a "bone surgeon" it was decided that the young Dr. Henderson would limit his practice to a precise specialty. In 1911, Dr. Henderson went abroad to the UK, to work under Sir Robert Jones in Liverpool and then Sir Harold Stiles in Edinburgh, both recognized as experts in the new field of specialized orthopaedic surgery. Upon his return to Rochester, he then proceeded to organize and head the new section of orthopaedic surgery at the Mayo Clinic until he retired in 1948.[1][2] He spent his medical career in Rochester, working closely with the Mayo brothers in the early years, contributing to The Mayo Clinic's growth into the major medical practice it has gone on to become, and witnessing the small city's expansion.

During his tenure he consulted and advised many associates. Always a visionary, he accepted a meeting in 1940 with Sister Elizabeth Kenny. Although she was already denounced by many physicians and surgeons, including the AMA president as an "ignorant quack seeking money for her own gain", Dr. Henderson chose to make his own opinions. Instead of dismissing her and her experience as just a untrained nurse of polio patients, Dr. Henderson referred her to an associate in Minneapolis.[3] There, she was finally given a chance to demonstrate her work to Doctors Miland Knapp and John Pohl, who headed the polio treatment centers and told her that she should "stick around". (However, Dr. Henderson's wife, Mabel, was also a strong personality of St. Paul pioneer stock (Starkey), and a nurse called to training as a first graduate of St Mary's Nursing School class begun following disastrous tornadoes in the Rochester area, which may have contributed to Dr. Henderson's open mind).

Dr. Henderson operated on many famous athletes, actors, personalities from around the world, as well as, provided free surgery to patients as needed. He kept precise research notes on his surgeries and outcomes, and published numerous articles for medical journals. He presented his work at many medical organizations, developed surgical techniques, and equipment. He is recognised for his research on synovial chondromatosis, a disease affecting the thin flexible membrane around a joint called the synovium. The disorder is also known as Reichel's syndrome, Henderson-Jones syndrome, or Reichel-Jones-Henderson syndrome, named after Doctors Friedrich Paul Reichel, Hugh Toland Jones and Melvin Starkey Henderson.[4][5]

Dr. Henderson was involved in many national and international organizations, and was a founder and first President of the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgeons when it was established at the Kahler Hotel in Rochester, Minnesota, on June 5, 1934. Describing the organization of the Board, the closed, socially elite Eastern establishment of surgeons, withheld endorsement “After all, in the opinion of the East Coast establishment, Dr. Henderson (who was born in St. Paul, was educated in Canada, and had his beginning with the Mayo brothers as a clinical assistant riding a bicycle around Rochester, making house calls on the Mayo brothers’ patients) was a mere upstart.” He was 31 years old and already been President of the American Orthopaedic Association and Clinical Orthopaedic Society, as well as prominent in the American Medical Association and other organizations. Dr. Henderson was one of three of the first 15 AAOS Presidents (the other two being Drs. Philip D. Wilson and John C. Wilson, Sr.) who had a son who succeeded him professionally as both President and as the Director of Orthopaedic Surgery at the Mayo Clinic. He was greatly respected for his organizational abilities, particularly at the Board, whose objectives were uncertain in the beginning and required his careful quidance. Dr Henderson served on the Trustee Board for the Mayo Clinic, and many other professional and charitable foundations.[6][7]

Throughout his busy career, Dr. Henderson remained a gifted amateur photographer. Disappearing into his darkroom when he had the opportunity, and later entering his photographs to document his family, friendships, and professional associates into his scrapbooks. Also a early fan of the movie camera, beginning in the 1920s he documented many activities in hundreds and hundreds of feet of old black and white 16mm movie reels of the Mayo family and fellow associates, his travel's, and of his family all in the possession of his family today.

Dr. Henderson died in 1954 in Rochester Minnesota from cardiac disease when he was 71 years old.

Personal Life:
Married: Mabel Christensen, of St. Paul, MN
Sons: Melvin Starkey Henderson, Jr; Edward Drewry Henderson, MD
Home: Constructed his family home on First Avenue, in Rochester area to become known as "Pill Hill" due to all the Mayo physicians choosing to live there.


  1. ^ Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research; August 1990 - Volume 257 - Issue - ppg 3-10 SECTION I: SYMPOSIUM CERTIFICATION AND ACCREDITATION IN ORTHOPEDIC SURGERY: The Classic: Fifty Years in the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery
  2. ^ Spokane Daily Chronicle, "Sister Kenny Foundation Helps with Rehabilitation" by Walter C. Alvarez Emeritus Professor of Medicine, Mayo Foundation April 2, 1973
  3. ^ The Woman Who Challenged the Doctors; Victor Cohn,University of Minnesota Press, January 1, 1975
  4. ^
  5. ^ Henderson, MS; American Journal of Orthopedic Surgery, 1916, 14: 265. American Journal of Orthopedic Surgery, 1918, 16: 498.
  6. ^ Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery Am., Obituary, 1954; 36:1087-1088
  7. ^ Who's Who in Orthopaedic Surgery; Seyed Mostoffi, Springer; 1 edition (September 17, 2004)

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Henderson-Jones-Syndrom — Klassifikation nach ICD 10 D16 Gutartige Neubildung des Knochens und des Gelenkknorpels ICD O M9220/1 …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Henderson-Jones disease — Hen·der·son Jones disease (henґdər sən jōnzґ) [Melvin Starkey Henderson, American orthopedic surgeon, 1883–1954; Hugh T. Jones, American orthopedic surgeon, 20th century] see under disease …   Medical dictionary

  • Gelenkchondromatose — Klassifikation nach ICD 10 D16 Gutartige Neubildung des Knochens und des Gelenkknorpels ICD O M9220/1 …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Reichel-Syndrom — Klassifikation nach ICD 10 D16 Gutartige Neubildung des Knochens und des Gelenkknorpels ICD O M9220/1 …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Synoviale Chondromatose — Klassifikation nach ICD 10 D16 Gutartige Neubildung des Knochens und des Gelenkknorpels ICD O M9220/1 …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Synoviale Chondrometaplasie — Klassifikation nach ICD 10 D16 Gutartige Neubildung des Knochens und des Gelenkknorpels ICD O M9220/1 …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Synoviale Osteochondromatose — Klassifikation nach ICD 10 D16 Gutartige Neubildung des Knochens und des Gelenkknorpels ICD O M9220/1 …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Synovial chondromatosis — Classification and external resources X ray of an elbow affected by synovial chondromatosis DiseasesDB …   Wikipedia

  • Osteocondromatosis — Este artículo está huérfano, pues pocos o ningún artículo enlazan aquí. Por favor, introduce enlaces hacia esta página desde otros artículos relacionados …   Wikipedia Español

  • List of people from Minnesota — This is a list of notable persons who were born or spent important time in the state of Minnesota. People not born in Minnesota are marked with §. Contents: Top · 0–9 A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z …   Wikipedia