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Joseph G. Richardson papers


Held at: Historical Medical Library of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia [Contact Us]19 S. 22nd Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103

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

Joseph Gibbons Richardson was born in Philadelphia on January 10, 1836. He was descended from a very old Quaker family. He earned his M.D. in 1862 from the University of Pennsylvania, and afterwards was a resident at Wills Eye Hospital and Pennsylvania Hospital. It seems that he also served in the Union Army during the United States Civil War as an Acting Assistant Surgeon. Richardson had his own medical practice in Union Springs, NY, from about 1863 to 1868, when he returned to Philadelphia. From 1872 to 1876, he was a lecturer on pathological anatomy at University of Pennsylvania, and in 1877, became professor of hygiene. He also served as an attending physician at Presbyterian Hospital and a 'microscopist' at Pennsylvania Hospital.

Richardson is best known for his contributions to the field of medical microscopy, especially the detection of blood stains and for discovering a method by which a miniscule amount of human blood can be discriminated from animal blood. He published "A Handbook of Medical of Medical Microscopy" in 1871.

In 1869, Richardson was elected a Fellow of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia. He was also a member of the Philadelphia Board of Health, Philadelphia County Medical Society, Academy of Natural Sciences, Pennsylvania State Medical Society, American Medical Association, American Public Health Association, and the Société Francaise d'Hygiéne.

Joseph Richardson married Mary Randolph Parry in 1864; they had two daughters. He died on November 13, 1886, at his home in Philadelphia.

The Joseph G. Richardson papers date from 1862 to 1887, and document Richardson's professional career as a physician in 19th-century Philadelphia, including letters to and from colleagues, his publications, and lectures given. The collection is divided into five series: Biographical information; Clippings; Correspondence; Daybook; and Writings.

Series I: Biographical information dates from 1878 to 1887, and is comprised mostly of newspaper clippings of obituaries. Also included in the series is a brief biography published in the journal "Progress" in 1884, membership lists from the Philadelphia County Medical Society or they years 1878 to 1881, and a 3.8cm x 2.5cm tintype portrait (undated).

Series II: Clippings consists of numerous newspaper clippings for the years 1866 to 1878, although not every year is represented. Newspapers represented include the Daily Evening Telegraph (Philadelphia, PA) and The Post (Pittsburgh, PA). Richardson's letters to the editor, announcements of his book publications, his elections to medical and other professional societies, and reports of his public lectures comprise much of the material.

Series III: Correspondence includes letters written and received by Richardson during the years 1862 to 1886. Like the previous series, however, not all years are represented. The first subseries, "Letters from Richardson," contains a small number of letters, 1866 to 1885, two to his wife, detailing his daily life in Union Springs in 1866; a letter to the editors of Philadelphia Medical Times, 1875; and several to other Philadelphia-area physicians about his professional responsibilities. Subseries b., "Letters to Richardson," 1862 to 1881, is comprised mainly of correspondence from medical societies, re meetings; other physicians; and from various branches of the United States military, including invoices from the Clothing Depot of the Schuylkill Arsenal in Philadelphia; and approved accounts from the War Department of the Surgeon General's Office. An entire folder is dedicated to correspondence and other documents from J. R. Freese, the Assistant Adjutant General, dating to 1862, including descriptive lists for various Pennsylvania regiments, for whom it seems Richardson was the Acting Assistant Surgeon.

Series IV contains a one-volume daybook dating to circa 1869. Some entries appear to be copies of lectures or articles written by other physicians, including S. Weir Mitchell; others appear to be research notes relating to the blood, as well as case studies of patients.

Series V: Writings, 1869 to 1886, holds various published and unpublished works of Richardson's. Subseries a is comprised of lectures given by Richardson, presumably at the University of Pennsylvania between 1884 and 1886. Lecture topics include hygiene; electricity – "lightning rods and Franklin's rules;" malaria – "laws of and actions of Qu & As in counteracting;" epidemic influenza – "laws of and rules for controlling, lesson of Memphis contagion, itch insect, Holmes' problem, and small pox in America;" germ theory – "chiefly from Soc. Sci. Lect.[?], Pasteurs' inoculation of 50 sheep with anthrax, Ziegler's pathological anatomy;" graft theory; and "race as far as composite now[?] in US." All lecture titles come from the original folders, as do the letters in alphabetical order found on the current folders.

Series V, Subseries b contains manuscript drafts of essays, undated, including one on croup and diphtheria, and reprints of some of Richardson's publication. Of note are the several recipes in the third subseries, undated, for rheumatism, sores, and "the Gravel." "Testimonials," the fourth and final subseries, holds numerous letters of reference from 1869 to 1877 commending Richardson's skills and recommending him to the Episcopal Hospital, Presbyterian Hospital, and the University of Pennsylvania.

Historical Medical Library of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia
Finding Aid Author
Chrissie Perella
Finding Aid Date
February 2020

Collection Inventory

Biography from "Progress", 1884.
Box 1 Folder 1
Membership in the Philadelphia County Medical Society, 1878-1881.
Box 1 Folder 2
Obituaries, 1886-1887.
Box 1 Folder 3
Tintype portrait, undated.
Box 1 Folder 4

(1 of 3), 1876; undated.
Box 1 Folder 5
(2 of 3), 1866; 1868; 1875; 1878.
Box 1 Folder 6
(3 of 3), 1869-1886; undated.
Box 1 Folder 7

Subseries a. Letters from Richardson, 1866; 1872; 1876; 1885; undated.
Box 1 Folder 8
A-D, 1862; 1872; 1883; undated.
Box 1 Folder 9
Freese, J. R., 1862; undated.
Box 1 Folder 10
F-L, 1862; 1869; 1886; undated.
Box 1 Folder 11
N-P, 1868-1869; 1875; 1880; undated.
Box 1 Folder 12
S-W, 1868-1869; 1875; 1881; undated.
Box 1 Folder 13
Series IV. Daybook, circa 1869.
Box 1 Folder 14

Lecture on hygiene (1 of 2) "A", undated.
Box 1 Folder 15
Lecture on hygiene (2 of 2) "B", undated.
Box 1 Folder 16
Electricity; malaria; and epidemic influenz "C", circa 1884-1886.
Box 1 Folder 17
Conclusion of epidemic influenza "D", circa 1884-1886.
Box 1 Folder 18
Germ theory "F", 1884.
Box 1 Folder 18
End of germ theory; Graft theory; Race; List of students "G", 1884-1886.
Box 2 Folder 1
Manuscript drafts, undated.
Box 2 Folder 2
Printed essays and articles, 1873-1879; undated.
Box 2 Folder 3
Recipes, undated.
Box 2 Folder 4
to Episcopal Hospital, 1869-1870; undated.
Box 2 Folder 5
to Presbyterian Hospital Trustees, 1869; 1875; undated.
Box 2 Folder 6
to University of Pennsylvania Trustees, 1876-1877; undated.
Box 2 Folder 7

Print, Suggest