Giving Birth to the Caesarean Section

Julius Caesar was assassinated by political opponents on March 15, the Ides of March. Most know how Caesar met his end, but they may not realize that the medical procedure associated with his name — the Caesarean or Cesarean (or, as above, “Caesarian”) section — was not actually used to facilitate his birth. The first recorded instance of a woman surviving this procedure was in 1500. In this image from the 1890s, a throng watches doctors perform a Caesarean operation “involving the employment of Watters’ Standard Sutures and Ligatures.” View more fascinating prints and photographs from the past in NLM’s Images from the History of Medicine database.