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B MS c1

Thacher, James, 1754-1844. Correspondence, 1781-1842 (inclusive): Finding Aid.

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

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

© President and Fellows of Harvard College


Preservation and description was supported by the Arcadia-funded project Harvard in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries.

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: B MS c1
Repository: Center for the History of Medicine (Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine)
Creator: Thacher, James, 1754-1844.
Title: James Thacher correspondence,
Date(s): 1781-1842 (inclusive).
Quantity: 0.13 cubic feet (1 flat storage box)
Language of materials: Collection is in English.
Abstract: 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.

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.

Conditions Governing Access:

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

Conditions Governing Use:

The 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.

Preferred Citation:

James Thacher correspondence, 1781-1842 (inclusive). B MS c1. Boston Medical Library, Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine, Boston, Mass.

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

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.

Resources on James Thacher

Arrangement

The collection is arranged alphabetically by correspondent.

Scope and Content

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.

Container List

Additional Index Terms

Family life -- Massachusetts -- History -- 18th century.
Family life -- Massachusetts -- History -- 19th century.
Medicine -- Massachusetts -- History -- 19th century.
Physicians -- Massachusetts -- History -- 19th century.
Physicians' writings.
Biography as Topic.
History of Medicine.
Physicians -- history.
Writing -- history.
Plymouth (Mass.) -- History -- 19th Century.
Transcriptions.
Physicians.
Francis, John W. (John Wakefield), 1789-1861.
Goodwin, Fear Thatcher
Jennison, Timothy Lindall, 1761-1845.
Thacher, James, 1754-1844.
Trumbull, John, 1756-1843.
Pilgrim Society (Plymouth, Mass.).

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