Special Collections and University Archives, W.E.B. Du Bois Library, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Champion and Stebbins Family Account Books
Scope and Contents of the Collection
The account books kept by members of the Champion and Stebbins families of Saybrook, Connecticut and West Springfield, Massachusetts document account transactions of various businesses and professional activities. The ledger (1753-1777) of general store merchant, medical practitioner, shipping and marine merchant Reuben Champion lists accounts by surname, services rendered and method of payment. Daybook (1785-1787) of businessman and general store merchant Jere Stebbins of West Springfield, Massachusetts chronicles transactions with store customers, many of whom were women, and his activities as a local banker lending and collecting cash. Account books (1809-1865) of physician Reuben Champion of West Springfield, Massachusetts include entries for treatment and remedies listed chronologically with little patient information, in addition to personal account information relating to boarders in his home, farm services accepted as credit, and pasture rentals.
Champion recorded very little personal information about patients in these books and usually noted simply that he had been called in, without recording the reason. The cases which he did note frequently include broken bones, "ulcers" (swellings), "parturition" (childbirth), and extracting teeth. Champion followed the homeopathic school of medicine, which relied on purges, emetics, and bleeding, and frequently recorded his treatments. His medicines ranged from asafetida to zinc powders, including arsenic, hemlock, magnesia and mercury. He also prescribed patent medicines such as "Bateman's Drops," and occasionally treated horses.
Patients or their families frequently earned credit by working Champion's land. He also profited from loaning out horses or oxen, and by selling wood. Many transactions were cash, but he accepted a variety of goods as credit. "Strained honey" appears frequently, as do shoes and clothes.
Champion's list of patients remained fairly steady over the years, among them some African-Americans and many women. Frequent patients included Elijah Ashley, Aaron Bagg, Petatiah Bliss, Reuben and Moses Champion, Martin Ely, and Jere Stebbins families.
This collection is organized into three series: