Astley Paston Cooper 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
Astley Paston Cooper Ashhurst was born on August 21, 1876 in Philadelphia, PA to John Ashhurst Jr. and Sarah Stokes Wayne. He completed his Bachelor’s degree in 1896, and his medical degree 1900, both from the University of Pennsylvania.
During his career, Ashhurst held numerous hospital positions, including Surgeon to the Episcopal Hospital in Philadelphia from 1904 to 1930, Surgeon at the Philadelphia Orthopedic Hospital and Infirmary for Nervous Diseases from 1904 to 1930, Surgeon to the Dispensary at the Children’s Hospital from 1906 to 1911, and Chief of Gynecological Dispensary at Pennsylvania Hospital from 1906 to 1911. Ashhurst also held several teaching positions at the University of Pennsylvania, including Prosecutor to the Associate Professor of Applied Anatomy from 1904 to 1911, Instructor in Surgery from 1911 to 1920, and Professor in Clinical Surgery in the Graduate School of Medicine from 1923 to 1930.
Ashhurst served the United States military with distinction. In 1916 he attended the Medical Officers Training Camp, and in December 1917 was sent to France with Base Camp Unit No. 34 to aid in the World War I effort. From January to March of 1918, Ashhurst served as Director of Base Hospital No. 34 with the American Expeditionary Forces in Nantes, France. From April to July 1918, Ashhurst was sent to the Beauvais and Oise areas of France to serve in a medical capacity with the French army; and from July to November 1918, served as Chief of Operating Team at Nieully-sur-Seine, Chierry, and Souilly sous Verdun. Toward the end of the war, Ashhurst served as Consultant in Surgery from November to December 1918 in Savenay, Nantes, St. Nazaire; and the Camp Hospitals at Coetquiden and Neucon. Ashhurst then returned home, and from January to April 1919 served on duty as Chief of the Surgical Service at Walter Reed General Hospital for returning veterans. For his service, Ashhurst received a citation from General Pershing for “Exceptionally Meritorious and Conspicuous Service with Base Hospital 34.”
Ashhurst’s other accomplishments include publishing several monographs on surgical subjects, his Textbook on Surgery, co-written with John B. Deaver, being his best known work. Ashhurst also belonged to several medical societies, and was particularly active with the American Surgical Association, which he joined in 1913. He became a Fellow at the College of Physicians of Philadelphia in 1906.
In May 1930, Ashhurst suffered a cerebral hemorrhage stemming from a car accident, and was forced to retire from the medical profession. Later that year, he wed Anna P. Cambell. In August and September 1932, Ashhurst suffered two more cerebral hemorrhages and passed on September 19th.
Mutscheler, Louis H. “Memoir of Astley Paston Cooper Ashhurst,” in Transactions of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, Fourth Series, vols. 1 & 2, pp. xliv-xlvii, 1934.
The Astley Paston Cooper Ashhurst Papers collection contains correspondence and writings from Ashhurst’s military service and medical career. The collection encompasses two series: “Military Service,” and “Subject Files,” and dates from 1895, 1904-1933, 1963, and undated. Researchers interested in the career of Astley Paston Cooper Ashhurst, or in the medical history of World War I will find material of interest in this collection.
The “Military Service” series documents Ashhurst’s military service from World War I to his post-war involvement with the Reserve Officers Corps. The series contains two subseries: “During World War I,” and “After World War I,” arranged chronologically. The series dates from 1916-1929, and undated.
The “During World War I” subseries contains correspondence, notes, and regulation orders from Ashhurst’s service during the war. The correspondence is grouped together, and includes letters exchanged with the American Red Cross and War Department, among others. Other items in the subseries include financial notes, a history of Base Hospital 34, and medical notes on patients. The folders are arranged alphabetically and date from 1916 to 1920, and undated.
The “After World War I” subseries contains correspondence, publications, and regulations from Ashhurst’s involvement in the Officers Reserve Corps. The correspondence is grouped together, and includes letters from the Association of Military Surgeons as well as with the War Department. Several additional letters concern regulations for participation in the Officer Reserve Corps. Other significant items in the subseries include biographical notes for Ashhurst's World War I service, copies of the “Bulletin” publication, and other special orders for officers. The folders are arranged alphabetically and date from 1919 to 1929. The “Subject Files” series contains material from Ashhurst’s medical career and personal life. The series contains six subseries: “Correspondence,” “Writings,” “Trips,” “Exhibits at College of Physicians of Philadelphia,” “Laboratory work,” and “Miscellaneous,” arranged by bulk of material. The series dates from 1895, 1904 to 1933, 1963, and undated.
The “Correspondence” subseries contains letters between Ashhurst and others, largely of a professional nature. Correspondents include the American Surgical Society, L. E. Snodgrass, College of Physicians, and S. Weir Mitchell among others. While the bulk of letters span from 1900 to 1932, one letter from 1963 relates to the transfer of Ashhurst’s letters after his passing. The folders are arranged alphabetically and date from 1895, 1900, 1904 to 1933, 1963, and undated.
The “Writings” subseries contains writings largely by Ashhurst, as well as one article from a colleague. The writings by Ashhurst include biographies of his father John Ashhurst Jr., as well as writings on medical topics such as surgery and fractures. The subseries also includes reviews sent to Ashhurst on his work, including “The Patience of Surgery.” The folders are arranged alphabetically and date from 1905, 1907, 1910 to 1931, and undated.
The “Trips” subseries contains written accounts by Ashhurst on his trips to Europe, Michigan, and Minnesota. Also included are postcards from Ashhurst’s trip to Ann Arbor, Michigan. The folders are arranged alphabetically and date from 1904, 1907, and 1914.
The “Exhibits at College of Physicians of Philadelphia” subseries contains lists of material for the display of an exhibit on the centenary of Lord Lister, and on bone fractures. The folders are arranged alphabetically and date from 1927, and undated.
The “Laboratory Work” subseries contains an undated list of supplies for Ashhurst’s laboratory.
The “Miscellaneous” subseries contains a folder of unidentified, undated notes from 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
Additional work by Ashhurst on the "Centenary of Lord Lister" can be found in the "Exhibits" subseries.