William Quitman Wilkins kept this daily diary from January 1, 1869, through April 27, 1869, largely while attending medical school at the University of Louisiana and receiving clinical training at the Charity Hospital of New Orleans. He reported on case studies, operations, recommended treatments, pharmaceuticals, post mortem examinations, tests, and other aspects of his education. Wilkins also reported on his evening and weekend social activities, including attendance at concerts, operas, "varieties," Mardi Gras, and other events.
William Quitman Wilkins' kept this daily diary from January 1, 1869, through April 27, 1869, largely while attending medical school at the University of Louisiana (now Tulane University) and receiving clinical training at the Charity Hospital of New Orleans. He reported on case studies, operations, recommended treatments, pharmaceuticals, post mortem examinations, tests, and other aspects of his education. Wilkins kept his diary in a pre-printed "Patent Self Closing Diary for 1869."
The physicians he studied under included Drs. Frank Hawthorn, J. D. or S. M. Bemiss, Stanford E. Chaille, Warren Stone, and others. Examples of conditions represented in Wilkins' notes include dysentery "from alcoholic poison," pneumonia, typhoid, gangrene of the penis, delirium tremens from the use of opium, malaria, syphilis, constipation, chorea (in a ten year old), opium poisoning, suffocation from hemorrhage, and other ailments. He also wrote of smallpox vaccination and amputations. In one instance, he witnessed an African American woman's operation for "skirrus" (i.e. scirrhous) cancer of the breast (February 27).
In the evenings and on weekends, he attended concerts, "varieties," operas, and plays. He met Tom Thumb and visited Henry Clay's monument on Canal Street (January 9), watched James Robinson & Son (January 18), attended a performance of Fire Fly (January 21), assisted in the wedding of his aunt Sallie and uncle John (January 28), reported on Mardi Gras (February 9), and witnessed the Fireman's Festival and Parade (March 4).
W. Q. Wilkins had apparently received a gunshot wound in his leg/hip and toward the end of the term he underwent surgery to remove bone fragments (March 12). He left New Orleans on March 18, and arrived home in Oxford, Mississippi, the next day. After his arrival, he suffered for weeks with chills, a fever, and leg abscesses. During this time, he briefly mentioned family visitors, reading, taking invoices of drugs, and much bedrest. On April 3, Dr. Isom (possibly Dr. Thomas Dudley Isom [1816-1902]) removed two more bone fragments from his leg. By April 27, his health had improved and he began to study his textbooks once again.
The final 24 pages of the diary contain notes for one of Dr. Chaille's tests, lists of medicines, Medical Association of Lafayette County's fees for various medical treatments, names and addresses, and other notes.