Five College Archives and Manuscript
UMass Amherst seal
Physician's Daybook, 1831-1833
1 volume (0.5 linear ft.)
Collection number: MS 283

Unidentified physician from either Easton or Norton, Massachusetts. Includes lists of debits for medical care, grain and board sales, and the rentals of his horse and chaise. Also contains entries of medical procedures, lists of patients, and their means of payment.

Terms of Access and Use:

The collection is open for research.

Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries

Scope and Contents of the Collection

This daybook covers the practice of an unidentified physician in the years 1831-33. The doctor was probably established in either Easton or Norton, Massachusetts, where most of his patients were located. Town histories list at least seven physicians in these towns for that period.

The entries in this daybook are short and often in a medical shorthand. Most simply list a debit for a call, advice, and medicine. Many note "new medicine," and presumably the charge was higher for a new prescription. Other frequent entries include dentistry work, venesection (bleeding), and childbirth, which the doctor noted by the abbreviation "puella.'' Vaccination, also a common procedure, increased sharply in August, 1811, which may indicate an outbreak of some disease such as smallpox or measles. Unfortunately, the doctor did not record which disease necessitated the vaccinations. Besides medical care, other debits show the doctor selling grain and boards, and renting out his horse and chaise.

Credit entries were infrequent, and almost all noted cash as the means of payment. Some debit entries were marked paid, which probably means they were settled at the time of service. The doctor added the charges at the bottom of each page, and he also figured his receipts by month and year. In 1831 his charges totaled $1952.32, and in 1832, $2046.16. Of course, this was only on paper, since he still had to collect for his services.

This physician saw patients, including charity cases, in Norton, Easton, Bridgewater, and in Plymouth County. Frequent patients included the families of Nathan Alger, Oliver and Lyman Dickaman, Cyrus Lathrop, Caleb and Nathan Pratt, and Samuel Wilbur. A few, presumably independent women, appeared under their own names, but most were listed under their husbands' names even as widows.

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

The collection is open for research.

Preferred Citation

Cite as: Physician's Daybook (MS 283). Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries.

History of the Collection

Acquired from Charles Apfelbaum, 1989.

Processing Information

Processed by Lisa May, August 1989.

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.

  • Bridgewater (Mass. : Town)--Economic conditions--19th century--Sources.
  • Childbirth--Massachusetts--History--19th century--Sources.
  • Easton (Mass. : Town)--Economic conditions--19th century--Sources.
  • Medicine--Practice--Massachusetts--History--19th century--Sources.
  • Norton (Mass.)--Economic conditions--19th century--Sources.
  • Phlebotomy--Massachusetts--History--19th century--Sources.
  • Physicians--Massachusetts--Economic conditions--19th century--Sources.
  • Teeth--Extraction--Massachusetts--History--19th century--Sources.
  • Vaccination--Massachusetts--History--19th century--Sources.

Genre terms
  • Account books.

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