Five College Archives and Manuscript Collections
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Amory Gale Ledgers, 1840-1872
2 volumes (0.5 linear ft.)
Collection number: MS 259

Physician and minister who moved around and practiced in the towns of Canton, Scituate, Mansfield, and Medway in Massachusetts, as well as in Rhode Island and New Hampshire. Two volumes include lists of patients, their accounts, form of payment, lists of medical fees, and a draft of a business agreement.

Terms of Access and Use:

The collection is open for research.

Special Collections and University Archives, W.E.B. Du Bois Library, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Biographical Note

Amory Gale was born in Warwick, Massachusetts in 1800. He married Martha Leland in 1825, and they had six children: Caroline (b.1828), Martha (b.1832), Mary (b.1835), James (b.1837), and Annah (b.1840). Gale graduated with a medical degree from Brown University and began practicing medicine. At some point he was also ordained a Unitarian minister. These two vocations moved him and his growing family around Massachusetts, as well as to New Hampshire and Rhode Island. In the 1850's Gale finally settled in Medway, Massachusetts. There he combined medicine and agriculture until his death in 1873.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The two volumes document Armory Gale's medical practice over thirty years. The first volume dates from 1840 to 1854. A note inside the front cover lists Gale's transfers in those years from Canton to Scituate to Mansfield, Massachusetts, and then to Woonsocket, Rhode Island. The second ledger opens in 1855, apparently in Medway, and the accounts run through 1872. Most of the accounts in the second volume begin with a balance transferred from another ledger, which would cover the gap between these two. Also, Gale transferred accounts in the second ledger to other volumes, so the series included at least three other ledgers.

The volumes are ledgers rather than daybooks. The first accounts in both books were entered chronologically, as Gale added the new patients to his lists. As time went on, Gale simply squeezed accounts in wherever there was room. At some point he added alphabetical indexes to each ledger, to provide some organization.

Gale's practice was an extensive one, especially for the days of horse and carriage. He treated patients throughout southeastern Massachusetts and northern Rhode Island, in some thirty-four towns. It is unclear why or how he developed such a wide-spread practice. Most of his entries in the ledgers are simply for "visit and medicine." Other frequent notations include dentistry and obstetric cases, vaccination, and treatment of broken bones.

Almost all the accounts were reckoned and settled at some point. Many patients paid in cash, and large balances settled in cash suggest that some of the patients were well-off. Gale also accepted a variety of goods and services for credit, including shoes for his family, washing, and work (by the hour or the day). He sometimes balanced credit accounts by paying out cash.

Gale used the last pages of the first ledger for personal accounts, but there are no other personal notations. There are, however, two interesting items. The first volume contains a list of medical fees for Worcester County. It gives the prices for a wide range of medical procedures, from "Advice in common cases" ($0.25) to "Operation for Strangulated Hernia" ($25). This list is an important resource for exploring economic and medical conditions in the 1840s and 1850s. The second item is a draft of an agreement between Gale and Dr. J.S. Nichols. Gale agrees to secure for Nichols as much as possible of the homeopathic medical practice in Woonsocket. In return, Nichols is to split the profits, estimated at $1200 a year, for two years. It is unclear if such an agreement was ever formally signed.

Information on Use
Terms of Access and Use
Restrictions on access:

The collection is open for research.

Preferred Citation

Cite as: Amory Gale Ledgers (MS 259). Special Collections and University Archives, W.E.B. Du Bois Library, University of Massachusetts Amherst.

History of the Collection

Acquired from: Charles Apfelbaum, 1989.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Lisa May, 2003.

Additional Information
Contact Information
Special Collections and University Archives
W.E.B. Du Bois Library
University of Massachusetts Amherst
Amherst, MA 01003-9275

Phone: (413) 545-2780
Fax: (413) 577-1399
Link to SCUA
Encoding funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Search Terms
The following terms represent persons, organizations, and topics documented in this collection. Use these headings to search for additional materials on this web site, in the Five College Library Catalog, or in other library catalogs and databases.

  • Woonsocket (R.I.)--Economic conditions--19th century
  • Canton (Mass.)--Economic conditions--19th century
  • Gale, Amory, 1800-1873
  • Mansfield (Mass.)--Economic conditions--19th century
  • Medical fees--Massachusetts--Worcester County--19th century
  • Medicine--Practice--Massachusetts--Accounting
  • Medicine--Practice--Rhode Island--Accounting
  • Medway (Mass.)--Economic conditions--19th century
  • Nichols, J. S.
  • Scituate (Mass.)--Economic conditions--19th century

Genre terms
  • Account books

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