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Am J Forensic Med Pathol. 1987 Dec;8(4):350-3.

Charles Norris (1868-1935) and Thomas A. Gonzales (1878-1956), New York's forensic pioneers.

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  • 1Milton Helpern International Center of Forensic Sciences, Wichita, Kansas.


American forensic medicine is forever indebted to pioneers like George Magrath of Boston, Milton Helpern of New York, LeMoyne Snyder of Michigan, and others, but the organizing of forensic medicine in the formal sense is due to the efforts of Charles Norris (Figure 1) and his successor Thomas A. Gonzales (Figure 2). These men were instrumental in developing the subspecialty as an extension of clinical medicine in which information derived from study of the dead was applied to benefit the living. Their combined efforts between 1918 and 1954 represent the epitome of the application of scientific expertise to medicolegal investigation of deaths in America. Their collaboration from 1918 to 1935 was particularly fruitful. The support of Dr. Alexander Gettler and, in 1938, the addition of Dr. Wiener to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner made this period a golden era for forensic medicine.

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