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COLLECTION Identifier: B MS c1

James Thacher correspondence

Overview

The James Thacher correspondence, 1781-1842 (inclusive), contains the letters of Plymouth, Massachusetts, physician and medical historian James Thacher (1754-1844) to his sister, Fear (Thatcher) Goodwin, and brother-in-law, John Goodwin, in Portland, Maine, primarily discussing family matters and local news, the death of children, and medical issues, and correspondence to fellow physicians John Wakefield Francis (1789-1861) and Timothy Lindall Jennison (1761-1845) about medicine and Thacher's writings.

Dates

  • 1781-1842 (inclusive).

Creator

Language of Materials

Collection is in English.

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. Access requires advance notice. Contact Public Services for further information.

Conditions Governing Use

Public Domain.

Extent

0.13 cubic feet (1 flat storage box)
The James Thacher correspondence, 1781-1842 (inclusive), contain the letters of Plymouth, Massachusetts, physician and medical historian James Thacher to his sister, Fear (Thatcher) Goodwin, and brother-in-law, John Goodwin, in Portland, Maine, primarily discussing family matters and local news, the death of children, and medical issues, and correspondence to fellow physicians John Wakefield Francis (1789-1861) and Timothy Lindall Jennison (1761-1845) about medicine and Thacher's writings.

Thacher's letters to his sister include medical advice regarding treatment of her tumors and details regardings the deaths of his children; in particular, he writes about one child who died of dropsy of the brain, on whom Thacher consented to an autopsy to confirm the suspected cause of death.

Correspondence to his colleagues Francis and Jennison contain details about his work on American Medical Biography and their contributions to the publication. He also sought advice from Francis regarding an illness of his daughter. Additionally, there are letters to his niece and nephew-in-law, and to the painter John Trumbull (1756-1843) regarding porraits for the Pilgrim Society.

The collection includes 20th century transcriptions of Thacher's correspondence to Fear Goodwin and several other letters.

Collection is entirely in English.

Biographical Note

James Thacher (1754-1844), honorary M.D., Harvard College, Cambridge, Massachusetts, was a physician and medical writer in Plymouth, Massachusetts. He served as a surgeon in the 16th Massachusetts Regiment during the American Revolutionary War from 1775 to 1783.

James Thacher was born on 14 February 1754 in Barnstable, Massachusetts, to Content and John Thacher. He studied medicine in Barnstable with Abner Hersey, and in 1775, he became a surgeon's mate in the military hospital in Cambridge under the direction of Harvard Medical School founder John Warren (1753-1815). Thacher subsequently became a surgeon in the 16th Massachusetts Regiment, serving until 1783. He then settled in Plymouth, where he opened his medical practice.

Thacher was awarded an honorary M.D. by Harvard in 1810; he retired as a physician in circa 1824. Thacher wrote a number of works on medicine, including: American Medical Biography (1828), containing entries on 163 American physicians; The American New Dispensatory (1810); and Modern Practice of Physic (1817). Thacher also published a diary he kept as a surgeon during the war, A Military Journal during the American Revolutionary War, from 1775 to 1783 in 1823, as well as a history of the town of Plymouth.

Thacher married Susannah Hayward (1757-1842) in 1784, and they had six children, two of whom lived to adulthood: Betsey Hayward Thacher Hodge (1786-1871) and Susan Thacher Bartlett (1794-1862). He died in Plymouth on 24 May 1844.

Arrangement

The collection is arranged alphabetically by correspondent.

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

  1. James Thacher correspondence and papers. B MS b3.

Resources on James Thacher

  • Kelly, Howard Atwood. A Cyclopedia of American Medical Biography: Comprising the Lives of Eminent Deceased Physicians and Surgeons from 1610 to 1910, Volume I. Baltimore: The Norma, Remington Company, 1920.

Processing Information

Processed by Brooke McManus, 2015 December.

Processing staff in the Center for the History of Medicine analyzed and described the papers, and created a finding aid to improve access in 2015. The collection was described in a card catalog and arranged alphabetically at an earlier date; the arrangement and 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; and "T.L." for transcribed letter.
Link to catalog
Title
Thacher, James, 1754-1844. Correspondence, 1781-1842 (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 project Harvard in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries.
EAD ID
med00225

Repository Details

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

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