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H MS c166

Richardson, Edward Peirson, 1881-1944. Papers, 1875-1931: A Finding Aid.

Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine. Center for the History of Medicine.
Harvard Medical Library and Boston Medical Library


August 19, 2004

© 2004 The President and Fellows of Harvard College

The Edward Peirson Richardson, Sr. Papers were processed with support from Margaret E. Richardson.

Descriptive Summary

Repository: Francis A.Countway Library of Medicine. Center for the History of Medicine.
Call No.: H MS c166
Title: Papers, 1875-1931.
Creator: Richardson, Edward Peirson, 1881-1944.
Quantity: 8.3 cubic ft. in 8 record cartons and 1 document box.
Abstract: The Edward Peirson Richardson, Sr. Papers, 1875-1931, document Richardson's career as Chief of the Third and later West Surgical Services at Massachusetts General Hospital and as John Homans Professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School.

Acquisition Information:

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

Processing Information:

Processed by: Alyson Reichgott, March 2004
Processing Note: The collection is comprised of three accessions totaling 21 cubic feet. Approximately five cubic feet of patient records were discarded, along with three cubic feet of unmarked reprints. Unmarked, unrelated newspaper clippings, newsletters, and copies of correspondence were similarly discarded.

Access Restrictions:

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 Reference Librarian for further information. Reference Services and Access Information.

Use Restrictions:

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

Preferred citation for publication:

Edward Peirson Richardson Sr. papers, 1875-1931. HMS c166. Harvard Medical Library, Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine, Boston, Mass.

Series and Subseries Arrangement

Index Terms

Joslin, Elliott Proctor, 1869-1962.
Means, James Howard, 1885-1967.
Minot, George Richards, 1885-1950.
Richardson, Edward Peirson, 1881-1944.
Richardson, Maurice H., 1851-1912.
Roosevelt, Theodore, 1858-1919.
Shattuck, Frederick Cheever, 1847-1929.
Warren, John Collins, 1842-1927.
Harvard Medical School. Committee of Advisers.
Harvard Medical School. Committee on Examinations.
Harvard Medical School. Committee on Physical Therapy.
Massachusetts General Hospital. Surgical Services.
Breast Neoplasms
Education, Medical
Endocrine glands--Diseases.
Endocrine glands--Surgery.
Endocrine Surgical Procedures
Genitourinary organs--Diseases.
Genitourinary organs--Surgery.
Harvard Medical School--Administration.
Harvard Medical School--Curriculum.
Harvard Medical School--Students.
Harvard Medical School-- Study and teaching.
Medical education.
Parathyroid glands--Diseases.
Parathyroid glands--Surgery.
Thyroid Diseases
Thyroid gland--Surgery.
Thyroid gland--Diseases.
Urogenital Diseases--surgery


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 of Margaret White Peirson and Maurice Howe Richardson (MHR), he was born on 7 April 1881 in Boston, Massachusetts. Maurice Howe Richardson was a prominent physician with ties to both HMS and MGH. EPR Sr.'s maternal grandfather, Edward Brooks Peirson (1820-1874), was a physician in Salem, Massachusetts. EPR Sr. received the AB from Harvard College in 1902. After a medical education that included sixteen months as a surgical house officer at MGH, he received the MD from HMS in 1906.
Following graduation, EPR Sr. became MHR’s surgical assistant. When MHR died suddenly in 1912, EPR Sr. took over his father’s general practice, which he maintained until 1922, when personal and professional demands required its closure.
During World War I, EPR Sr. served twice. He joined the First Harvard Medical Unit at British General Hospital No. 22, near Etaples, France in 1915, as a temporary honorary major. In July 1918, he was commissioned in the United States Army as a captain. In September of that year, he was promoted to major, and arrived with his unit in France on Armistice Day, 11 November 1918. He returned to the US in 1919.
On 26 May 1917 EPR Sr. married Clara Lee Shattuck, daughter of prominent Boston physician Frederick Cheever Shattuck (1847-1929). They had three children, Edward Peirson Richardson Jr., Elliot Lee Richardson, and George Shattuck Richardson, before Clara died from complications of childbirth on 6 December 1921.
EPR Sr. practiced surgery at MGH. He became Assistant Surgeon to Outpatients in 1911, Surgeon to Outpatients in 1912, Assistant Visiting Surgeon in 1919, Chief of the Third Surgical Service in 1922, and Chief of the West Surgical Service in 1925, which became the first full-time surgical teaching unit at MGH. In addition, he was on staff at a 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 1921 to 1922.
During the same years, EPR Sr. served on the HMS faculty: he was appointed Assistant Professor of Surgery in 1922, Associate Professor of Surgery 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 Medical Association, and Surgical Gynecology and Obstetrics. Topics reflected the range his of surgical interests, including the abdominal specialties of his father, but his main curiosity lay in thyroid and parathyroid surgery. He co-authored his most extensive published work, Diseases of the Thyroid (1929), with James H. Means.
Richardson held active memberships in many professional societies, including the American College of Surgeons, American Medical Association, American Surgical Association, Massachusetts Medical Society, and Society of Clinical Surgery. He enjoyed hunting, fishing, nature, ecology, and travel. He was active in the Harvard Club, Somerset Club and the Brookline Country Club.
In 1931, a debilitating stroke cut short his professional activities. Although he maintained his status as an honorary member of the MGH staff and as Homans Professor, Emeritus, he never fully recovered.
EPR Sr. died on 26 January 1944, at age 63. Funeral services were held at Mount Auburn Chapel on 29 January 1944.

Scope and Content Note

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 foot of personal and family papers accompanies the professional material, most of which dates from 1914 to 1931, corresponding with EPR Sr.’s most productive years at HMS, MGH, and in private practice. Although EPR Sr. lived until 1944, 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 on the 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.


The collection is organized into six series. Six photographs are listed in Series VII, Photographs.

Related Materials

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Box and Folder List