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James Adam diary


Held at: University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts [Contact Us]3420 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6206

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One of five children born in Edinburgh, Scotland to James and Mary Square Adam. He attended St. Andrews where he received his medical degree. He then studied surgery at Edinburgh University. Adam was a medical officer and spent the years from 1857 to 1859 in Calcutta, West Bengal, India; Burma; and Table Bay, Cape of Good Hope, South Africa. After Adam returned to Scotland he moved to London and worked at Bethnal House Asylum from 1861 to 1871. Adam continued his career in psychiatry caring for patients at Caterham Asylum, where he was superintendent from 1872 to 1879. He then took a position at Scotland Crichton Royalist Asylum. In 1883 Adam opened a private asylum in England in West Malling Kent where he cared for mentally ill patients until his death. In 1874 Adam married Edith Emma Drew and the couple had nine children. In 1892 Adam wrote a five-page article entitled Self-mutilation published in A dictionary of psychological medicine.

Diary comprising two volumes spanning the years from 1857 to 1863 written by James Adam. Volume 1 contains Adam's descriptions his journey from Scotland to India as a medical officer. On August 15, 1857 Adam departed from London on a steamer ship the Candia. He wrote of his sea voyage including officers he traveled with, the weather, landscapes, missing his family, sea sickness, and miles traveled. He arrived at Kalkota on November 5, 1857. Adam worked at a hospital and witnessed a portion of the Indian Rebellion of 1857. In February 1858 Adam was deployed to the ship Belgravia to take charge of the wounded and sick at the South African Cape. He traveled with his servant Harold. Once anchored at Table Bay Adam described the native people, seeing Dr. Livingstone. Adam noted he had a muster of forty natives whom he reluctantly treated for skin diseases. There is a copy of a letter to his parents and pencil drawings of the Cape of Good Hope. On the journey back to Calcutta there was an incident with the captain regarding ailing horses. In June 1858 Adam mentioned seeing cholera cases, reading Waston and works on homeopathy. Adam also worked off of the H.M.S. Proserpine. In March 1859 Adam began his voyage back to England on the Ivanhoe he mentioned playing chess and catching fish. Reading volume 1 from back to front are poems and songs. One of the poems was "written on board the Candia". Tables of daily latitude and longitude for the voyages to India and England are in the volume. Some accounting of receipts and expenditures is in the volume. Adam arrived back in Edinburgh on August 5, 1859. Volume 2 commences in 1861. In sporadic entries Adam described his arrival and work at Bethnal House Asylum with Dr. Ritchie. and Dr. Miller. In August 1863 Adam wrote of his trip to Scotland and attending a wedding in Portobello. He mentioned seeing family members in Edinburgh. Reading volume 2 from back to front is a clipping of an epitaph for Lord Clyde pasted over writing in pencil. Adam wrote an autopsy of a young woman named Ann Jones aged 23. A majority of volume 2 is blank. Inscribed on the first leaf of volume 1: J. F. Adam journal, commenced August 13, 1857 on leaving home for the first time to sail for India. Inscribed on the last leaf of volume 1: James F. Adam, Surgeon, H.M.S. Proserpine. Volume 2 is inscribed: Private, Jame Adam M.D., January 20, 1861.

Sold by Dean Byass Manuscripts & Rare Books (Bristol, United Kingdom), 2018.

University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
Finding Aid Author
Donna Brandolisio
Finding Aid Date
August 2018
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James Adam diary, 1857-1863.
Volume 1
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