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SERIES Identifier: WAM001, c21127

Jeffries, B. Joy (Benjamin Joy), 1833-1915. Collection of eye instruments and apparatuses formerly of John Jeffries (1745-1819), John Jeffries (1796-1876), and John Howard Dix (1813-1884), 1765-1885

Scope and Contents

Collection of instruments used by multiple physicians, including John Jeffries (1745-1819), John Jeffries (1796-1876), and John Howard Dix (1813-1884). The collection was composed by B. Joy (Benjamin Joy) Jeffries (1833-1915).


  • 1765-1885
  • Usage: 1765-1885


Language of Materials

Object labels, inscriptions, etc. are primarily in English.

Conditions Governing Access

Warren Anatomical Museum objects are available for research access. Access is premised on the availability of space and staff to facilitate use. Contact Public Services for the Warren Anatomical Museum for more information.


12 objects

Biographical / Historical

Benjamin Joy Jeffries (1833-1915), A.B., 1854, Harvard College, Cambridge, Massachusetts; M.D., 1857, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, was an ophthalmologist who specialized in color-blindness.

Benjamin Joy Jeffries, known as B. Joy Jeffries, was born in Boston on March 26, 1833. His father, John Jeffries (1796-1876) was a physician and his grandfather, also John Jeffries (1745-1819) had been a surgeon of the British Army during the American Revolution. B. Joy Jeffries received his A.B. from Harvard College in 1854 and his M.D. in 1857. He traveled to Vienna to study under Professors Arlt and Hebra. When he returned to Boston he opened a free dispensary with Dr. Francis P. Sprague (1834-1921) and Dr. James C. White that specialized in dermatology and ophthalmology. Over time he focused more and more on ophthalmology until it became his sole specialty. He was an ophthalmic surgeon at the Massachusetts Charitable Eye and Ear Infirmary from 1866-1902, at which point he resigned and became a consulting surgeon.

Jeffries is best known for his work in the field of color blindness. He published five papers on the subject in 1878, starting with "The Incurability of Congenital Color-Blindness". These papers were followed by his book, "Color-Blindness, its Dangers and Detection" in 1879. Other notable publications include "Observations on a Peculiar Expression of the Eyes of the Color-Blind" (1881), "Color-Names, Color-Blindness and the Education of the Color-Sense in our Schools" (1882), and "Report of Examination of 27,927 School Children for Color Blindness" (1889). Jeffries was an advocate for color blindness testing, especially for railroad employees and sailors due to safety concerns related to signals. He was a proponent of Holmgren's test, which involved the patient matching skeins of colored yarn to determine accuracy based on color group.

B. Joy Jeffries married Marian Shimmin (1848-1888). They had two children: Charles Shimmin Jeffries (1877-1895) and Marian (Jeffries) Means (1881-1950). He died in Boston on November 21, 1915.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by B. Joy (Benjamin Joy) Jeffries (1833-1915). The collection was originally displayed in the Warren Anatomical Museum in an exhibition curated by Townsend Thorndike for the 1906 meeting of the American Medical Association. (Acc. #2013.013W)

Processing Information

These objects were processed as part of the Warren Anatomical Museum's 2019 LEAN project "Maximizing Cataloging Output for the Warren Anatomical Museum Instrumentation Backlog Through Minimal Processing."

Repository Details

Part of the Center for the History of Medicine (Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine) Repository

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