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COLLECTION Identifier: H MS c166

Edward Peirson Richardson papers,1875-1931.

The Edward PeirsonRichardson, Sr. Papers, 1875-1931, document Richardson's career as Chief of the Third and later West Surgical Services atMassachusetts General Hospital and as John Homans Professor of Surgery atHarvard Medical School.


  • 1875-1931.


Conditions Governing Access

Access requires advance notice.There are restrictions on access to portions of this collection. Patient information and personal information is restricted for 80 years from the date of creation. These restrictions are noted where they appear in Series III, IV, V, and VI. Researchers may apply for access to restricted records. Consult the ReferenceLibrarian for further information. Reference Services and Access Information.

Conditions Governing Use

TheHarvard Medical Library does not hold copyright on all of the materials in the collections. Requests for permission to publish material from the collectionshould be directed to the Public Services Librarian. Researchers who obtainpermission to publish from the Public Services Librarian are responsible foridentifying and contacting the persons or organizations that holdcopyright.


8.3 cubic feet (8 record cartons and 1 document box)

The Edward Peirson Richardson Sr. Papers, 1875-1931,contains the records from EPR Sr.'s personal and professional activities at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital. Less than one cubic footof personal and family papers accompanies the professional material, most ofwhich dates from 1914 to 1931, corresponding with EPR Sr.’s mostproductive years at HMS, MGH, and in private practice. Although EPR Sr. lived until1944, the records date only until just after his stroke in 1931. The records in this collection were created primarily from EPR Sr.'s administrative roles and research onthe thyroid gland. Other topics include medical education and training at HMS and MGH. MGH. CorrespondenceCorrespondence, notes, syllabi, writings, lectures, examinations, articles, and photographs document Richardson's research activities concerning abdominal ailments and thyroid disorders.


Edward Peirson Richardson, Sr. (EPR Sr.), MD, was an abdominal surgeon at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and John Homans Professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School (HMS). Son ofMargaret White Peirson and Maurice Howe Richardson (MHR), he was born on7 April 1881 in Boston, Massachusetts. Maurice Howe Richardson was a prominentphysician with ties to both HMS and MGH. EPR Sr.'s maternal grandfather, Edward BrooksPeirson (1820-1874), was a physician in Salem, Massachusetts.EPR Sr. received the AB from Harvard College in 1902. After a medicaleducation that included sixteen months as a surgical house officer at MGH, hereceived the MD from HMS in 1906.

Following graduation, EPR Sr. becameMHR’s surgical assistant. When MHR died suddenly in 1912, EPR Sr. tookover his father’s general practice, which he maintained until 1922, whenpersonal and professional demands required its closure.

During World WarI, EPR Sr. served twice. He joined the First Harvard Medical Unit at BritishGeneral Hospital No. 22, near Etaples, France in 1915, as a temporary honorarymajor. In July 1918, he was commissioned in the United States Army as acaptain. In September of that year, he was promoted to major, and arrived withhis unit in France on Armistice Day, 11 November 1918. He returned to the USin 1919.

On 26 May 1917 EPR Sr. married Clara Lee Shattuck, daughter ofprominent Boston physician Frederick Cheever Shattuck (1847-1929). They hadthree children, Edward Peirson Richardson Jr., Elliot Lee Richardson, andGeorge Shattuck Richardson, before Clara died from complications of childbirthon 6 December 1921.

EPR Sr. practiced surgery at MGH. He becameAssistant Surgeon to Outpatients in 1911, Surgeon to Outpatients in 1912,Assistant Visiting Surgeon in 1919, Chief of the Third Surgical Service in1922, and Chief of the West Surgical Service in 1925, which became the firstfull-time surgical teaching unit at MGH. In addition, he was on staff ata number of other local hospitals, most notably at the Robert Breck Brigham Hospital,serving as a surgeon from 1914 to 1918, and as a consulting surgeon from 1921to 1922.

During the same years, EPR Sr. served on the HMS faculty: hewas appointed Assistant Professor of Surgery in 1922, Associate Professor ofSurgery in 1925, and John Homans Professor of Surgery in 1927.

EPR Sr.often wrote for professional publications, including the Annals of Surgery,Boston Medical and Surgical Journal, Journal of the American MedicalAssociation, and Surgical Gynecology and Obstetrics. Topics reflected the range his ofsurgical interests, including the abdominal specialties of his father, but hismain curiosity lay in thyroid and parathyroid surgery. Heco-authored his most extensive published work, Diseases of the Thyroid (1929),with James H. Means.

Richardson held active memberships in manyprofessional societies, including the American College of Surgeons, AmericanMedical Association, American Surgical Association, Massachusetts MedicalSociety, and Society of Clinical Surgery. He enjoyed hunting, fishing, nature,ecology, and travel. He was active in the Harvard Club, Somerset Club andthe Brookline Country Club.

In 1931, adebilitating stroke cut short his professional activities. Although hemaintained his status as an honorary member of the MGH staff and as HomansProfessor, Emeritus, he never fully recovered.

EPR Sr. died on 26January 1944, at age 63. Funeral services were held at Mount Auburn Chapel on29 January 1944.

Seriesand Subseries Arrangement

  1. Series I. Family Papers, 1897-1930
  2. Series II. Private Practice, 1913-1931
  3. Series III. Correspondence, 1891-1930
  4. ___SubseriesA. Alphabetical Correspondence, 1891-1930
  5. ___Subseries B. Outgoing Chronological Correspondence, 1909-1922
  6. Series IV. Harvard Medical School, 1902-1931
  7. ___SubseriesA. Student Notes, 1902-1905
  8. ___Subseries B. Harvard Medical SchoolAdministrative and Teaching Records, 1921-1931
  9. Series V. Massachusetts General Hospital Administrative Records, 1914-1930
  10. Series VI. Writings and Lectures, 1914-1929
  11. ___Subseries A.Articles and Lectures, 1914-1929
  12. ___Subseries B. Diagnosis andTreatment of Diseases of the Thyroid, by EPR Sr. and James H. Means,1927-1929
  13. Series VII. Photographs,1875, n.d.
Arrangement The collection is organized into six series. Six photographs are listed in SeriesVII, Photographs.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Edward Peirson Richardson, Sr. Papers were donated to the HarvardMedical Library in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine by Margaret E.Richardson in 1999.

Related Materials

Related collections in the Center for the History of Medicine ineinclude the:
  1. Richardson, Edward Peirson, 1881-1944, Faculty publications. (1.Mh.1915.R)
  2. Richardson, EdwardPeirson, 1918 -. Papers, 1898-1998.
  3. Richardson, Maurice H., 1851-1912. Papers, 1869-1913.

Processing Information

Processed by: Alyson Reichgott, March 2004

Processing Note: The collection is comprised of three accessions totaling 21 cubic feet. Approximately five cubic feetof patient records were discarded, along with three cubic feet of unmarkedreprints. Unmarked, unrelated newspaper clippings, newsletters, and copies ofcorrespondence were similarly discarded.
Link to catalog
Richardson, Edward Peirson, 1881-1944. Papers,1875-1931: A Finding Aid.
Francis A. Countway Library ofMedicine. Center for the History of Medicine.
The Edward Peirson Richardson, Sr. Papers were processed with support from Margaret E.Richardson.

Repository Details

Part of the Countway Library of Medicine Repository

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