History of the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP)

Saturday, October 11, 2014
AAP Exhibit Hall F & G (San Diego Convention Center)
Balu Athreya, A I duPont Hospital for Children, Wilmington, DE and Madeline Bell, BSN, MSOD, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, DE

Case Report:      History of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia


A great grandson of Benjamin Franklin (T.Hewson Bache), a wealthy bachelor (F W Lewis) and a classmate of Oscar Wilde (A F Penrose) were instrumental in establishing the first children’s hospital in the United States. The doors opened on November 23, 1855 at 408, Blight Street (now known as Watts Street) in Philadelphia, PA. This is the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, affectionately known among the alumni and patients as C H O P.

After two more moves, once in 1865 and once in 1916, the Hospital moved to the present location in 1974. The idea was to be in close proximity to the University of Pennsylvania with which it was officially affiliated in 1919. Dr.Joseph Stokes became the Chief of the Hospital and Chairman of the Department of Pediatrics in 1939. With the arrival of Dr.T.F.McNair Scott as the Director of Research, the current trajectory for excellence in clinical care and research was set.

There are several Firsts the Hospital can claim, including the establishment of the Department of Preventive Medicine (1914), neonatal surgical unit, neonatal intensive care unit and more recently a specialized delivery unit for mothers carrying babies with known birth defects. Several innovations and research activities which have benefitted children all over the world include: vaccine development (gamma globulin, rubella and rota virus), balloon catheter, incubators for newborns, homogenized, pasteurized milk as infant food etc.

CHOP has also been in the forefront of pediatric education. The first resident physician (Dr. Rudolfo Valdevesio) was appointed in 1873. Formal education of medical students started in 1877. Training of pediatric nurses started in 1894.

The hospital also has interesting connections with the history of the Children’s Seashore House and the St.Chistopher’s Hospital for Children.

This poster will describe other milestones in the history of CHOP and also of important historical figures who were responsible for its status as one of the best children’s hospital in the world.


Radbill, Samuel X. The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Philadelphia Medicine 70 (9): 351-371, 1974.

Several Annual Reports to the Board of Managers going back to 1881.