Milton Helpern

Milton Helpern was the most famous Chief Medical Examiner for the City of New York —"a Sherlock Holmes with a microscope."

Dr. Milton Helpern (April 17, 1902—April 22, 1977) was born in East Harlem and received his medical degree from Cornell in 1926. He joined the New York City Medical Examiner office in 1931 and became its chief in 1954. During his 20-year tenure he performed over 20,000 autopsies, and was also a key witness in some infamous murder trials.  Dr. Helpern was widely admired as a forensic pathologist and medical detective. He co-wrote the definitve work on forensic medicine, Legal Medicine, Pathology and Toxicology (1954).

Milton Helpern appears in the following:

The 1957 pandemic: Not the Flu We Knew

Friday, December 13, 2013


Beginning in February 1957, a new influenza strain virus (known to virologists as H2N2) emerged in China.  Throughout April, May, and June, it spread steadily and rapidly across Asian and Middle Eastern countries.  There was one question in everyone’s minds: Would the new virus behave like the feared 1918 virus, which had caused tens of millions of deaths? Or would it behave like the ordinary influenza strains with which physicians were familiar? This November 1957 conference, organized by the New York Academy of Medicine and broadcast by WNYC, attempted to provide some answers.

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City Record: Dr. Milton Helpern

Wednesday, September 30, 1959

If the cause of death wasn't natural, then it goes to his office to find out why.


Rose, Harry M. (Moderator). Epidemic Influenza

Sunday, November 24, 1957

This is a special session convened on November 19, 1957, by the New York Academy of Medicine, moderated by Columbia University's Harry M. Rose and including the following:

Morris Greenberg, Director of Bureau Preventable diseases NYC DOH
Milton Helpern, New York City's Chief Medical Examiner


The Doctor in Court

Thursday, October 20, 1955

How to give better medical testimony in civil and criminal actions.