John Ashhurst Papers
Held at: Historical Medical Library of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia [Contact Us]
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Historical Medical Library of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
John Ashhurst, Jr., surgeon, was born in Philadelphia on 23 August 1839. He was the son of John and Harriet Eyre Ashhurst. Married to Sarah Stokes Wayne on 8 December 1864; the couple had seven children, including the eventual physician Astley P. C. Ashhurst. John Ashhurst, Jr., suffered a cerebral hemorrhage on 2 August 1898, and remained partially paralyzed until his death on 7 July 1900.
Ashhurst attended the University of Pennsylvania, receiving his A.B. in 1857, then his A.M. and M.D. in 1860. After completing his degree, he became a resident physician at Pennsylvania Hospital. From August 1861 until December 1862, Ashhurst was Assistant Surgeon at the U.S.Army Hospital in Chester, Pennsylvania. And from December 1862 until the end of the Civil War, he was Surgeon and Executive Officer of the Cuyler U.S. Army General Hospital in Germantown.
From 1863 until 1880, Ashhurst was Attending Surgeon at the Hospital of the Protestant Episcopal Church in Philadelphia. He also served as Surgeon at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania during this period. From 1877 to 1900, he served as Professor of Clinical Surgery at the University of Pennsylvania and, in 1889, became the John Rhea Barton Professor of Surgery.
Ashhurst wrote several monographs, including Injuries of the Spine(1865) and Principles and Practice of Surgery (several editions). He also edited the International Encyclopaedia of Surgery (1881-1886), the Transactions of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, and from 1867 to 1874, wrote many of the reviews of surgical literature appearing in the American Journal of the Medical Sciences.
John Ashhurst, Jr., was elected to fellowship in the College of Physicians of Philadelphia in 1863. He served as Vice President from 1895 to 1898, and then as President from 1898 to 1900. Ashhurst was also a member of the American Surgical Association, the Obstetrical Society of Philadelphia, the Pathological Society of Philadelphia, and the Philadelphia Academy of Surgery.
The John Ashhurst Papers collection documents the life and professional career of Dr. John Ashhurst from 1846 to 1901. Located in the collection are correspondence, book drafts, lecture notes, patient case information, and a biography of John Ashhurst by his son among other material. The collection contains five series: “Correspondence,” “Writings and Addresses,” “Teaching Material,” “Medical Research,” and “Cash Book,” arranged by relative size. Researchers interested in John Ashhurt’s life and career will find significant material in these papers.
The “Correspondence” series contains letters sent to and from John Ashhurst, largely of a professional nature. There are also letters exchanged with John Ashhurst’s immediate family. The series contains three subseries: “To John Ashhurst,” “From John Ashhurst,” and “Family.” It dates from 1846 to 1901.
The “To John Ashhurst” subseries containers letters sent to Ashhurst from friends and colleagues such as Dr. Samuel Gross, Joseph Leidy, Dr. Silas Weir Mitchell, and the University of Pennsylvania among others. There are also some letters sent from John Ashhurst’s father and brother, which were kept in this subseries given their original location in a large folder labeled “letters to John Ashhurst.” Folder titles state the purpose of most letters. Also located in the subseries are letters from friends and colleagues expressing condolence for the illness that eventually caused Ashhurst’s death. The subseries dates from 1853 to 1857, 1874 to 1898, and 1900. The folders are arranged first alphabetically by sender, then chronologically in the case of “other” senders.
The “From John Ashhurst” subseries contains letters sent from John Ashhurst to friends and colleagues primarily on professional issues such as applications for hospital positions and opinions on medical writings. There are also some letters regarding personal topics. The subseries dates from the 1850s, 1866 to 1895, and 1900. Folders are arranged alphabetically by last name.
The “Family” subseries contains letters sent from John Ashhurst to his immediate family. Each folder title notes the relationship between John Ashhurst and the family member receiving the letter. Also in the subseries are letters sent to John Ashhurst’s wife, Sarah, consoling her upon John Ashhurst’s death. The subseries dates from 1846 to 1861, and 1900 and 1901. The folders are arranged chronologically.
The “Writings and Addresses” series contains writings and addresses by John Ashhurst and others. It contains three subseries, arranged chronologically: “Pre-Professional,” “Professional,” and “Biography by Astley P. C. Ashhurst.” The series dates from 1848 to 1857, 1869, 1871, 1880 to 1881, 1892, and after 1900.
The “Pre-Professional” subseries contains the writings of John Ashhurst from adolescence and college years. These writings include his diary at age nine, a foreign language exercise book, and assembled essays on history and philosophy from his undergraduate years at the University of Pennsylvania. The series dates from 1848 to 1857, with the folders arranged chronologically.
The “Professional” subseries contains addresses and writings by John Ashhurst. The bulk of folders relate to the book The Principles and Practice of Surgery by Ashhurst, which was published in several editions. Also of note is correspondence relating to The International Encyclopedia of Surgery, which was contributed to by Ashhurst.
The “Biography by Astley P.C. Ashhurst” subseries contains material relating to the biography of John Ashhurst, assembled by his youngest son, Astley. Included in the subseries is a bibliography of John Ashhurst’s writings, a biography draft, as well as the biography itself, titled "The Life and Character of John Ashhurst Jr., by his youngest son, Astley P. C. Ashhurst." None of the items are dated, however given his passing in 1900; the series is dated after 1900. The folders are arranged alphabetically.
The “Teaching Material” series contains lectures, lecture notes, student examination information, and a valedictory speech from Ashhurst’s time spent as a Professor of Clinical Surgery at the University of Pennsylvania. The series dates from 1879, 1890 to 1898, and undated. The folders are arranged alphabetically.
The “Medical Research” series contains medical case notes and catalogs of medical resources compiled by John Ashhurst during his career. Of note in the series is a large book (in two folders) containing notes on hundreds of John Ashhurst’s medical cases from 1862 to 1898. Also of note is a catalog of the books and manuscripts held in Ashhurst’s private library. The series dates from 1862 to 1898, with folders arranged alphabetically.
The “Cash Book” series contains a single book detailing John Ashhurst’s expenses from 1864 to 1898.
- Historical Medical Library of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia
- Finding Aid Author
- Finding aid prepared by Finding aid prepared by Forrest Wright