Joseph McFarland 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
Dr. Joseph McFarland was born in Philadelphia on February 9th, 1868. His education was occasionally delayed by health issues; however in 1889 he received his M.D. degree from the University of Pennsylvania. After graduation McFarland spent a year as a Resident Physician at Philadelphia General Hospital, and then studied in Germany and Austria for an additional year. In 1891 McFarland returned to become the Assistant to the Professor of Pathology at the University of Pennsylvania, as well as Assistant Demonstrator of Pathological Histology.
In 1892 McFarland was promoted to Demonstrator of Pathological Histology, as well as Lecturer on Bacteriology at the University of Pennsylvania. He left these positions after being elected to Professor of Pathology and Bacteriology in the Medico-Chirurgical College of Philadelphia in 1896, a position he held until 1916. Also during this time, McFarland was made Professor of Pathology in the Woman’s College of Pennsylvania, serving in that position from 1910 to 1914. During World War One, McFarland was commissioned Major in the Medical Corps of the United States Army, and served at various bases throughout the United States until 1919. In 1920, after recovering from a case of pulsonary tuberculosis acquired during his army service, McFarland returned to the University of Pennsylvania to become Professor of General Pathology at the Thomas A. Evans Dental Institute. He retired from the University of Pennsylvania in 1940, and was granted Professor Emeritus status for full use of his laboratory room in perpetuity. That same year, McFarland accepted a position as Professor of General Pathology of the Dental School at Temple University, and was made consulting Pathologist to the newly-formed Tumor Clinic at University Hospital. In 1943 he was elected Visiting Professor of Pathology for instruction in Oncology at Jefferson Medical College of Philadelphia.
McFarland’s other career accomplishments include the granting of an honorary M.D. degree from the Medico-Chirurgical College of Philadelphia in 1898; overseeing the transition of the Medico-Chirurgical College’s merging with the University of Pennsylvania in 1916; election as Honorary Curator of the Mutter Museum in 1936; and receiving the “Strittmatter Award” for being the “Outstanding Medical Man of Philadelphia” in 1941. McFarland wrote extensively on the subjects of pathology, bacteriology, and tumors. His major works include the books “Biology: General and Medical” published in 1910; “The Breast: Its Diseases, its Anomalies and their Treatment” published in 1917; “Fighting Foes too Small to See” published in 1924; “Surgical Pathology” published in 1924. His first book, “Text Book of Pathology” was published in 1904 and reprinted for a second edition in 1910. By his own estimation, Dr. McFarland was also the author of “about two hundred contributions to current [as of 1943] medical literature.”
On September 14th, 1892, Dr. McFarland married Virginia E. Kinsey, and they had three children: Helen J., Katharine A., and Joseph Jr. Dr. McFarland passed in 1945.
-McFarland, Joseph. “Brief Outline of Professional Career of Joseph McFarland, M.D.” Philadelphia, PA, January 11, 1939.
-McFarland, Joseph. “Brief Outline of Professional Career of Joseph McFarland, M.D.: Physician-Pathologist-Author.” Philadelphia, PA, September, 1943.
The Joseph McFarland Papers collection documents much of Dr. McFarland’s medical career, particularly his involvement in parotid tumor and tetanus vaccination research from 1900 to 1943. The collection contains two series, “Correspondence” and “Subject Files.” Material in the collection includes letters sent to Dr. McFarland regarding his research, medical case notes, writings by Dr. McFarland, legal documents, and curriculum planning files. Researchers interested in Dr. McFarland’s career or the history of tumor and vaccination research will find relevant material in this collection.
The “Correspondence” series contains four subseries arranged by their significance to Dr. McFarland’s professional career. They are as follows, “Parotid Tumors,” “Tetanus and Vaccination,” “Other Cases,” and “General.” The series dates from 1900 to 1937.
The “Parotid Tumors” subseries contains correspondence regarding Dr. McFarland’s research into this medical condition. From 1925 to 1937, Dr. McFarland’s gathered information on parotid tumor treatment outcomes. This entailed writing to both doctors and patients regarding their experience with treatment, specifically if any symptoms had reoccurred. Correspondence in this subseries mostly includes letters sent to Dr. McFarland by doctors and patients, arranged alphabetically by the sender’s last name. Doctors and patient letters are kept together to reflect Dr. McFarland’s research process, which entailed writing to doctors and patients simultaneously. In cases where the sender was clearly a patient, it is noted in the folder title.
The “Tetanus and Vaccination” subseries contains correspondence on Dr. McFarland’s research into the relationship between tetanus outbreaks following vaccination administration. In the early twentieth century tetanus vaccination was a contentious issue, with many parents and other concerned organizations protesting its practice. Dr. McFarland was highly involved in this debate, and wrote with colleagues regarding their experience administering vaccinations. Dr. McFarland’s correspondence on this issue was initially separated into two locations, one dealing with his general research, and the other with specific cases of tetanus contraction. Therefore this subseries has been arranged first by general research, and then by specific cases of tetanus vaccination. Within these topic headings, the correspondence is arranged alphabetically by the sender’s last name. The letters date from 1901 to 1902, and 1905.
The “Other Cases” subseries contains correspondence between Dr. McFarland, Dr. Frederick Hammond, and Dr. Paul Allen regarding Dr. McFarland’s medical opinion from 1914 to 1915. This correspondence was given its own subseries because it did not deal with parotid tumors or tetanus, however because it was medical in nature, it did not fit into the “general” correspondence.
The “General” subseries contains non-medical correspondence between Dr. McFarland and his friends and colleagues. The letters are arranged alphabetically by sender’s last name, and date from 1900 to 1912.
The “Subject Files” series contains material related to work performed during Dr. McFarland’s medical career. It contains six subseries, “Medical Casework,” “Writings and Speeches,” “Legal Documents,” “General Pathology Course,” “Inventories,” and “Miscellaneous,” arranged by their significance to Dr. McFarland’s career. There is some correspondence included in the series. In these cases the correspondence was originally found attached to the items in this series, and was not separated. The series dates from 1901 to 1943, including some undated material.
The “Medical Casework” subseries contains notes, reports, and case summaries on a variety of medical subjects related to Dr. McFarland’s medical research. The subseries includes material regarding abnormal involution, carcinoma, tetanus, parotid tumors, and breast growths. The bulk of items relate to Dr. William L. Rodman’s case notes on abnormal involution, including correspondence with Dr. McFarland on the progress of these studies. The subseries is arranged alphabetically by folder title, and dates from 1901to 1902, 1912 to 1915, 1927, and undated.
The “Writing and Speeches” subseries contains writings and speeches by Dr. McFarland, as well as writings by other contemporary medical professionals. The bulk of the subseries contains Dr. McFarland’s short biographies on a number of historically-significant medical figures, all written around 1938. Also of note in the subseries is Dr. McFarland’s autobiography, titled "Brief Outline of the Professional Career or Joseph McFarland." There are two versions of this autobiography, from 1939 and 1943 respectively. The subseries includes two speeches by Dr. McFarland, one from the 50th Anniversary of the founding of the Nurses Training School of Philadelphia, and another marking the dedication of a medical ward commemorating Dr. Benjamin Rush. The subseries is arranged by title, with speeches appearing at the end, and dates from 1901 to 1902, 1932 to 1943, and undated.
The “Legal Documents” subseries documents Dr. McFarland’s involvement in providing medical expertise and testimony in several legal cases. Companies such as the American Car and Foundry Company, the Hudson Coal Company, and the Pennsylvania Railroad Company corresponded with Dr. McFarland regarding his opinion on employee claims against their company. The subseries is arranged by case title, and dates from 1920 to 1927. The “General Pathology Course” subseries contains material related to a pathology course taught by Dr. McFarland at the Thomas W. Evans Dental Institute. Material in the subseries includes course notes, slide lists, correspondence on course logistics. The subseries is arranged alphabetically by folder title, and dates from 1923 to 1925, and undated.
The “Inventories” subseries includes inventories of items from medical departments and laboratories, primarily from the Medico-Chirurgical College of Philadelphia. These inventories most likely relate to the Medico-Chirurgical College’s move in 1916, which Dr. McFarland oversaw. The subseries is arranged chronologically, and dates from 1912, 1915, and undated.
The “Miscellaneous” subseries contains one folder with loose, unidentifiable items that could not be filed with any other folder in the collection.
- Historical Medical Library of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia
- Finding Aid Author
- Finding aid prepared by Finding aid prepared by Forrest Wright