Skip to main content
COLLECTION Identifier: B MS c30

Cotton Tufts Papers,

The Cotton Tufts papers, 1751-1801 (inclusive), consist of the correspondence of physician Cotton Tufts (1732-1815) with his older brother, Simon Tufts (1727-1786), and other physicians, regarding medical matters, and the founding of a medical society in Massachusetts. Letters to Tufts pertain to the organization of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a meeting in 1785 of the Massachusetts Medical Society, among other topics. Also includes manuscripts by Tufts and a fragment of Tufts' medical journal from his practice in Weymouth, Massachusetts.

Dates

  • 1751-1801 (inclusive).

Language of Materials

Papers are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

Access requires advance notice. Contact Public Services for further information.

Conditions Governing Use

Boston Medical Library does not hold copyright on all the materials in the collection. Requests for permission to publish material from the collection should be directed to Public Services . Researchers who obtain permission to publish from Public Services are responsible for identifying and contacting the persons or organizations that hold copyright.

Extent

0.18 cubic feet (1 flat storage box)

The papers of Cotton Tufts, 1751-1801 (inclusive), consist of the correspondence of physician Cotton Tufts (1732-1815) with his older brother, Simon Tufts (1727-1786), and other physicians, regarding medical matters, and the founding of a medical society in Massachusetts. Letters to Tufts pertain to the organization of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a meeting in 1785 of the Massachusetts Medical Society, among other topics. Also includes manuscripts by Tufts and a fragment of Tufts' medical journal from his practice in Weymouth, Massachusetts.

Correspondence from Cotton Tufts to fellow physicians, such as Simon Tufts and Joseph Warren (1741-1775), mainly concern patient cases and his methods of treating certain illnesses. Also included is correspondence from Tufts to Thomas Boylston Adams (1772-1832) about financial matters and Edward Jenner's (1749-1823) treatise on smallpox vaccination, as well as correspondence to his colleagues Joseph Wilson and Josiah Converse, regarding early efforts to form a state medical society. Incoming correspondence from his nephews, physicians Simon Tufts (1769-1797) and Turell Tufts (1770-1842), concerns their patients and medical activities.

The collection additionally contains manuscripts and documents, including Cotton Tufts' writings on measles, smallpox vaccination, and on articles by other physicians, as well as his medical journal containing patient case histories. There is also a copy of a 1789 act granting the Massachusetts Medical Society the authority to inspect apothecaries and to destroy adulterated medicine.

Papers are entirely in English.

Biographical Note

Cotton Tufts (1732-1815), A.B., honorary M.D., Harvard College, Cambridge, Massachusetts, studied medicine with his older brother, Simon Tufts (1727-1786), in Medford, Massachusetts, and later established his own practice in Weymouth, Massachusetts. In 1780, he was one of the incorporators of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and he was later a delegate to the Massachusetts convention on the United States Constitution. Tufts was also an incorporator of the Massachusetts Medical Society in 1781, and served as its fourth president (1787-1795).

Cotton Tufts was born in Medford on 30 May 1734, to Abigail and Simon Tufts, Sr. (1700-1747), A.B., Harvard College, Cambridge, Massachusetts, a physician. He graduated from Harvard College in 1749, after which he studied medicine under his brother, Simon, also a Harvard graduate, before setting up his practice in Weymouth. Tufts gained recognition in 1751 when he introduced a new therapy for diphtheria, or "putrid sore throat," which was prevalent and often fatal among Weymouth residents at the time. Harvard awarded him an honorary M.D. in 1785.

Active in local and national politics, Tufts served the town of Weymouth on committees opposing the Stamp and Tea acts prior to the onset of the American Revolution. He also served as a justice of the peace for Suffolk County, and from 1781-1792, he was a member of the Massachusetts state senate. In 1788, Tufts was the Federalist delegate to the Massachusetts state convention that ratified the Constitution.

Tufts was a cousin of Abigail Adams (1744-1818), and he acted as a financial agent to Abigail and John Adams (1735-1826) in the United States during the period from 1780 to 1788, when John Adams served as a diplomat overseas.

Tufts married Lucy Quincy in 1755, and they had one son, Cotton. Lucy Tufts died in 1783, and in 1789, he remarried to Susannah Warner. Cotton Tufts died on 8 December 1815, in Weymouth.

Related Collections in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine, Center for the History of Medicine

  1. Receipt book of Cotton Tufts. B MS b11.1.

Resources about Cotton Tufts

  • Cash, Philip. "Tufts, Cotton." American National Biography Online. American National Biography Online, 2000.

Processing Information

Processed by Brooke McManus, 2015 December.

Processing staff in the Center for the History of Medicine analyzed, arranged, and described the papers, and created a finding aid to improve access in 2015. The collection was described in a card catalog at an earlier date; the folder titles, as previously devised by staff, were retained.

Please note that the following abbreviations have been used: "A.L." for autographed letter; "A.L.s." for autographed letter signed; "A.MS." for autographed manuscript signed; "A.D." for autographed document; and "MS.D." for manuscript document.
Link to catalog
Title
Tufts, Cotton, 1732-1815. Papers, 1751-1801 (inclusive): Finding Aid.
Author
Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine. Center for the History of Medicine.
Sponsor
Preservation and description was supported by the Arcadia-funded Colonial North American Project at Harvard University.
EAD ID
med00222

Repository Details

Part of the Countway Library of Medicine Repository

Contact:
10 Shattuck Street
Boston MA 02115
(617) 432-2170