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Department of Medicine and Surgery (University of Michigan) theses, 1851-1878

57 microfilms (1449 theses)

Theses written by University of Michigan Medical School students; subjects concern the theory and treatment of specific diseases, as well as the psychology of medicine, attitudes toward women and child rearing, the social standing of the physician, and medical practices during the mid-nineteenth century.

George Albert Taber collection, 1869-1895 (majority within 1871-1886)

0.25 linear feet

This collection contains correspondence, poetry, financial records, and other items related to the medical career of George A. Taber, a homeopathic physician who attended and taught at the University of Michigan and practiced in New York and Virginia in the late 19th century.

This collection (0.25 linear feet) contains correspondence, financial records, patient visiting records, poetry, and other items related to the medical career of George A. Taber, a homeopathic physician, who attended and taught at the University of Michigan and practiced in New York and Virginia in the late 19th century.

The Correspondence series (36 items) contains 33 letters to George A. Taber, as well as 3 personal and professional letters written by Taber. Taber's grandfather, Gamaliel Taber, provided family news from New Bedford, Massachusetts, and occasionally discussed his work as a coffin maker. Many letters pertain to Taber's assistant professorship at the University of Michigan Homeopathic Medical School, to Taber's private practices, and to 19th-century homeopathic medicine. One correspondent commented on an article that Taber had contributed to a medical journal, and another wrote a case report on a patient treated with picric acid. Samuel A. Jones discussed clinical cases in Ann Arbor, Michigan, developments at the university's medical school, and the economics of medical practice. George A. Taber also wrote 2 brief personal letters to his future wife, Caroline L. Crowell, and 1 draft letter to a professional acquaintance.

The Letter Book (approximately 85 pages) includes personal and professional letters that George A. Taber wrote from March 1875-December 1895, in which he discussed his experiences in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and his private practices in New York and Virginia.

The collection's 3 Account and Cash Books belonged to George A. Taber and pertain to his medical practices and to his personal finances. Taber kept Patient Visiting Records in 2 volumes, each of which contains printed reference information for homeopathic physicians. Taber's manuscript notes record the names of his patients, dates and types of patients' visits, fees charged, and remedies prescribed.

The Poetry series (8 items) consists of brief verses, including a poem about South Carolina around the time of secession. Samuel A. Jones wrote a poem entitled "The Yankee," and George A. Taber dedicated one poem to Carrie L. Crowell.

Four Pamphlets concerning homeopathy and physicians are housed in the Book Division.

The Ephemera series contains 3 items: a photographic identity card for George A. Taber, a blank invoice from "Drs. Jones & Taber" with manuscript notes on the back, and a card with statistics comparing the use of allopathy and homeopathy at an almshouse in Denver, Colorado.


George and José Bill papers, 1888-1947

1 linear foot

The George and José Bill papers contain essays, lectures, notes, prescriptions, and correspondence related to the medical practices of George Bill and his son, José Penteado Bill, of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Much of the material relates to unconventional medical practices and to topics in metaphysics. The collection also holds a series of astrological charts and notes.

The George and José Bill papers contain essays, lectures, notes, prescriptions, and correspondence related to the medical practices of George Bill and his son José Penteado Bill, of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The Correspondence and Documents series holds material related to George E. Bill's medical practice, including several letters written to his son during the 1920s. In one letter, he encouraged his son to avoid surgery for his granddaughter Audrey, and instead offered a dietary cure (February 1, 1922); in other letters, he discussed a "rhythometer" and the use of electricity as a medical cure.

The Essays, Lectures, Notes, and Speeches series is divided into several subseries. An unknown author compiled the Miss Doubleday gynecology notes while attending a lecture by Miss Doubleday; the notes include diagrams.

The Lectures on metaphysics consist of 13 lectures delivered by George Bill between November 2 and December 16, 1912, predicated upon a Law of Correspondence, "a General Law underlying the behavior of all Matter and the Spirit of Matter" (November 7, 1912). He mentioned magnetism, toxins thought to affect thoughts, and the polarity between elements of life (light, heat, and electricity) and death (darkness, cold, and magnetism), between which existence resides (November 6, 1912).

A series of Astrology charts and notes contains several charts copied from the work of Karl Anderson, as well as manuscript essays and projections.

Additional Essays, Lectures, Notes and Speeches concentrate primarily on medical topics, and most often concern pseudo-scientific conjectures and treatments outside the realm of conventional medicine. The series contains published articles as well as typed and manuscript drafts; some topics are hypnotism, the medical uses of electrical current, the human subconscious and its role in medicine, infrared therapy, and mental toxins and antitoxins.

A large number of Retained copies of prescriptions showcase a variety of medical treatments ordered by the Bills throughout the late-19th and early-20th century, including both conventional and homeopathic treatments.

The José Penteado Bill papers contain an assortment of material, including, but not limited to, scientific and medical notes, as well as a printed roster of the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association (July 1947). Other items are a traveling journal compiled in 1917 and a document giving Bill's grades from his second year of study at Harvard Medical School (1912). The Diaries subseries includes a partially-filled diary of José P. Bill from 1910, as well as a 1924 diary chronicling medical appointments; the latter was obtained in France and contains supplemental information in French. The Notes and notebooks subseries contains notes on José Penteado's engagements, patients, and prescriptions. Also included is a prescription notebook and pad.

The Printed Items series holds seven items. These are Keeley's Secrets, a publication on theosophy written by Mrs. Bloomfield Moore, with manuscript annotations (July 10, 1888); two medical journals; a scientific article; a pamphlet entitled "The Policy and Purpose of the Harrisburg Republican Club" (1902); a portion of an examination given to doctors at Clark University about "Diseases and Cures in Childhood" (December 1896); and a card on medicines, poisons, and antidotes. George Bill wrote the article, "The Relation of Hypnotism to the Subconscious Mind" (New York Medical Journal, May 1, 1897), an article entitled "Some Considerations Relative to the Therapeutic Application of the Electrical Current" (New York Medical Journal, November 13, 1897), and "The Conductivity of Human Radio-Activity" (Journal of the Allied Medical Associations of America, August 1919).

The Poems and Blank Stationery series contains pieces of blank stationery from Dr. George E. Bill's office in Harrisburg, PA, as well as two poems.


Messerve family correspondence, 1849-1861

104 items

The Messerve family correspondence consists of 104 items, 98 of which are letters to Theodore Messerve and William J. Messerve, brothers who traveled to California in 1849 in search of gold. Theodore remained in California, often working as a printer, and William returned home to New York City, where he also worked as a printer, before traveling back to California. Their sister, Hannahette Messerve, is the author of many of the letters, which contain accounts of New York family, social, and political life in the 1850s.

The Messerve family correspondence consists of 104 items, of which 90 are letters addressed to Theodore Messerve, either to him directly or to him and his brother William, after he leaves New York City to join the California Gold Rush in 1849. Additional items include 8 letters addressed to William J. Messerve in California; 4 letters to unidentified recipients; and 2 miscellaneous items, of which one is a printed map (apparently removed from a book), entitled "Map of the Great West," showing routes from the east to California (undated). The chief authors of the letters are Theodore's sister, Hannahette (59 letters to Theodore and William J.) and William J. Messerve (26 letters to Theodore, written during a period from 1850 to 1855 when William was in New York City). The rest are from various acquaintances, friends, and family members.

The letters written by Hannahette and William J. Messerve contain many details of daily life in New York City during the 1850s. Hannahette writes about her social outings, a trip to the Blackwell Asylum to visit her Aunt Brown (11 July 1851), the sensation that Jenny Lind is creating in New York City (25 September 1850), the Daniel Sickles murder case (20 March 1859), and her status as a single woman. "I have not got a beaux yet I am afraid you are going to have an old maid for a sister. I have had two chances since you left, but they did not suit and I am determined not to marry till I am suited if I live to die an Old Maid." (10 October 1850) Hannahette also takes an interest in political reform, telling William of the new mayor of New York City and his efforts to reduce corruption and preserve "the quiet and good name of the Sabbath." (18 February 1855). She describes the appearance of a comet (probably Donati's), and the "telescope man" on the corner of Broadway and Park Place, charging passersby to look through his optical instrument (4 October 1858). She visits the moving Panorama of the Mississippi and the Panorama of California, both of which made stops in New York City in 1850. William writes his brother Theodore of the many theatrical performances he attends, in addition to details and rumors relating to the Edwin Forrest divorce case (27 June 1850, 21 September 1851, and February 1852).

The letters of the Messerve family, Hannahette and William J. in particular, reveal the place that California held in the popular imagination. Hannahette and her father, William Messerve, perceived it as an uncivilized place, full of vice and danger. She is constantly urging her brothers to resist the temptations of California, and her father refers to California as a land "infested with thieves, incendiaries & mercenaries & where justice is a mockery." (10/11 August 1851) In the same letter, Hannahette warns against associating with Spaniards: "…you know but little of the Spanish character I hear they are the most deceitful and jealous people in the world." (31 March 1851) She reiterates this opinion in several other letters.

William J. Messerve's view of California is quite different. While Hannahette urges her brother Theodore to use caution in his spending habits, worries constantly about his health -- moral and physical -- and is always hoping that he will return to his family and the safety of New York City, William is drawn by California's promise of financial independence. He is frustrated by his lack of advancement as a printer at Harper's Monthly Magazine. He joins a union, but complains that the "employer is not giving them anything they ask for," although a later strike seems to have resulted in some improvement. (10 February 1851) He writes often of returning to California, or, failing that, of taking ship to Australia or South America to seek out adventure and prosperity. "I think about going off the d___l knows where. This working for 10 or 12 shillings a day is a slow way of amassing a fortune & I think I shall knock off this d__m business of sticking type. It is incongenial to my tastes, health & constitution…If I were making money here I should certainly stay (& may stay anyhow) but hope not… My intention is, if I can, to get a supercargo's berth -- to go anywhere -- to the moon, if a chance should offer -- for, this standing like a statue (on one foot square) all day, is complete death to me." (10 May 1852) In spite of the potential for fire, robbery, illness, destitution, and moral corruption, William is drawn again to California and the chance -- however elusive -- for a more fulfilling life.

Indeed, at times it seemed that every man in New York was headed out to California. Theodore's cousin, John Messerve, writes, "California is the all-absorbing topic." (12 March 1850) In 1852, William writes Theodore that the steamers leaving for California are packed with people. Many of the Messerves' acquaintances, and several relatives, had made the trip, with mixed success. (A cousin, Abraham Messerve, established an upholstery business in San Francisco -- the starting point of the fire of May 4, 1851, which destroyed three-fourths of the city.)

An incomplete picture of Theodore's life in the West can be pieced together from scattered passages in the letters. He occasionally traveled to the mines to try his luck -- apparently a dangerous undertaking -- but more often worked as a printer for the Daily Alta California and San Francisco Herald newspapers. A visitor to the Messerve's lodgings in New York reported that Theodore was a favorite with the Indians. William Messerve wrote to Theodore that he is "much amused with your account of the indian life & your interview with Red Cap the Chief & about the large trees & your climbing up the precipices & crossing the creeks & trudging through the mire." (10 August 1851) Theodore excited the fears of his sister when he took up with a married woman. Hannahette scolded him in a letter of 31 March 1851: "I think you act very wrong in encouraging or paying a married woman so much attention…. It is very strange her husband is not jealous of you if his wife shows so much affection for you." Theodore also experienced several financial setbacks, through theft and bad loans, prompting reproaches from his family for not sending his money home for safekeeping in a New York bank. But despite pleas from his family, and apparent promises to return, he remained in California.


Royal S. Copeland Papers, 1892-1938

37 linear feet — 45 oversize volumes — 1 oversize folder — 33 digital audiovisual files

Professor of homoeopathic medicine at University of Michigan, mayor of Ann Arbor, Michigan, dean of the New York Homeopathic Medical College and director of Flower Hospital, New York City Commissioner of Public Health, and Democratic U. S. Senator from New York, 1923-1938. Personal and medical correspondence, speeches, scrapbooks containing food and health articles, photographs, and other papers concerning his medical and political interests. Correspondents include: Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, Eleanor Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Alfred E. Smith.

The Royal Copeland collection, consisting primarily of correspondence, speeches and writings, scrapbooks, and articles, relates primarily to Copeland's medical career as professor of homeopathic medicine at the University of Michigan, dean of the New York Homeopathic Medical College and Flower Hospital, and New York City Commissioner of Public Health, and as United States Senator.