Waterhouse, Benjamin papers, 1786-1836 (inclusive). H MS c16

Dublin Core


Waterhouse, Benjamin papers, 1786-1836 (inclusive). H MS c16


Waterhouse (Leyden, M.D. 1780) Hersey Professor of Theory and Practice of Physic at Harvard, introduced vaccination against smallpox into the U.S. He was the first professor of medicine at Harvard, the first to give a course of lectures on natural history at Rhode Island College (Brown) in Providence, founder of the botanical garden at Cambridge, Mass., and curator of the collection of minerals at Harvard.
Contains autographed letters to Waterhouse from Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, John Quincy Adams, Edward Jenner, Sylvanus Fansher, Peter Oliver, and others, mostly about vaccinating against smallpox; some copies of Waterhouse's outgoing correspondence; several of his lectures at Harvard Medical School and other places, on natural history in general, mineralogy and botany in particular; also lectures on medical topics; writings on smallpox, botanical classification, epidemics, etc.; and a few letters and manuscripts pertaining to relations with Harvard, the proposed removal of the Medical School from Cambridge to Boston, mineralogy collection, and Waterhouse's courses. Also includes family papers, such as letters to his daughter, correspondence between family members, and papers belonging to a son, John Fothergill Waterhouse, and to his wives, Elizabeth Oliver and Louisa Lee Waterhouse; Waterhouse's membership certificates and appointments; journal extract of trip to Saratoga, N.Y. in 1794; inoculation and vaccination record of Waterhouse children; and petitions and reports regarding inoculation for smallpox in Cambridge, Mass.
The letters from Jefferson show the President's support for vaccination against smallpox and discuss vaccine matter sent by Waterhouse; his ideas on agriculture, especially benefits of a variety of rice he introduced into America; and his views of Waterhouse's book The Botanist. A copy of Waterhouse's letters to Jefferson concerns his interest in Benjamin Rush's position as treasurer of the Mint, as well as the new post of surgeon-general, and his general desire to leave Massachusetts. Madison's letters discuss Waterhouse's books and concern agriculture and agricultural societies. Also includes a Waterhouse letter to Jenner reporting on those opposed to inoculation; requesting some infected thread; and generally discussing colleagues, the smallpox hospital in Boston, and related matters. A letter from Jenner concerns a paper he has written on the origin of inoculation against smallpox.

Collection Items

Letter from Benjamin Waterhouse to Edward Jenner
In this letter, Waterhouse describes for Jenner the difficulties he has encountered with inoculations of spurious matter and asks for some additional vaccine, specifying that the matter be sent on soaked threads pressed between glass and sealed with…

Letter from Benjamin Waterhouse  to John Mellen and the Selectmen of the Town of Cambridge
This letter from Waterhouse proposes that Cambridge initiate a general vaccination program for all its citizens—“adopting that easy substitute afforded them by Divine Goodness”—and vaccinate the poor without charge.

Letter from Benjamin Waterhouse to Wooster Beach
One of the most notable supporters of Samuel Thomson was Benjamin Waterhouse, formerly Harvard's Hersey Professor of the Theory and Practice of Physic. Here, in a letter to Wooster Beach (1794-1868), founder of the eclectic medical movement,…
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