Monument to Dr. J. Marion Sims1154 Gervais Street
North of the John C. Calhoun State Office Building
Installed May 10, 1929
Bust designed by Edward Thomas Quinn
Monument designed by Harold Sterner with supervision by Lafaye and Lafaye
Created by Consolidated Granite Company
Funded by the South Carolina General Assembly and with funds raised by the Women’s Auxiliary of the South Carolina Medical Association
Installed Fall 1969
In 1912, the South Carolina General Assembly passed legislation appropriating $5,000 in state funds for the erection of a monument to Dr. J. Marion Sims, with the stipulation that the South Carolina Medical Association raise another $5,000 before commencing construction. Despite positive press (the Anderson Mail called him the “Ben Franklin of American Medical Men”), the medical community raised less than $100 before World War I. In 1926, the Women’s Auxiliary to the South Carolina Medical Association took over fundraising with great success, and the monument was completed three years later for $6,265.23. It originally sat on the northwest corner of Senate and Sumter Street (then the southeastern corner of the grounds) in order to inspire passing University of South Carolina students but was moved to its current location when the grounds were expanded in the late 1960s.
Sims was born in Lancaster in 1813 and attended South Carolina College (today’s University of South Carolina) before embarking on an internationally celebrated career in medicine that included the invention of procedures and surgical instruments. Although this monument touts his treatment of "Empresses and Slaves alike," he actually spent several years in Montgomery, Alabama practicing on enslaved women, whom doctors believed did not experience pain and modesty in the same manner as white women. The forced participation of these women (by nature of their enslavement) was usually omitted from fundraising efforts for the monument in favor of describing how the perfected surgical treatments benefitted white women in later years.