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Tully Family Papers

Call Number: Ms Coll 40

Scope and Contents

The collection is comprised of a small amount of personal correspondence of William Tully, memoranda, receipts, and wills. There is considerable material on the settling of Tully's estate, especially correspondence of the executor, Dr. Edwin Seeger. Seeger and others arranged for the sale of Tully's books by auction and tried to have his manuscripts (now unlocated) published. Among the estate papers are notes on patients who still owed money to Tully. The correspondence of Sarah and Elizabeth Tully in the collection mostly concerns the estate, financial matters, and family. The family part of the collection relates to the ancestry of the Tully, Potter, Pease, and Prudden families. There are Tully land deeds going back to the seventeenth century, a Bible signed by "John Tulley" in 1667, notes on scriptures by the Rev. Elam Potter, and two sermons by the Rev. Nehemiah Prudden of Enfield, as well as genealogical material and early documents related to the families. Photographs include twelve daguerrotypes of Tully's children, including of Hephzibah Tully who died in 1849.


  • 1667-1915


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Some items are too fragile to copy.

Conditions Governing Use

This collection is in the public domain.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Harry B. Ferris, M.D., professor of anatomy at Yale University School of Medicine, obtained this material in 1930 along with some of Tully's furniture from the woman who let rooms to Elizabeth Tully in Springfield, Massachusetts, before her death in 1915. He donated the papers to the Beaumont Medical Club in 1934. They are on permanent deposit in the Historical Library.


Organized in four series: 1. William Tully (1785-1859) and immediate family. 2. Tully family ancestors. 3. Potter, Pease, and Prudden families. 4. Photographs and miscellany.


1.5 Linear Feet (3 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


William Tully (1785-1859) was professor of materia medica and therapeutics at the Medical Institution of Yale College from 1824 to 1842. The collection contains a small amount of correspondence by or to Tully and limited material on Tully's medical career. One subseries concerns settling the estate of William Tully and finding funds to support his daughters Sarah and Elizabeth. The collection contains genealogies, original documents of the Tully family in Connecticut, and also documents related to ancestors of Tully's wife, Mary Potter Tully, particularly her father, the Rev. Elam Potter, and her stepfather, the Rev. Nehemiah Prudden. Photographs include daguerrotypes of Tully's children.

Biographical / Historical

William Tully was born on November 18, 1785, the son of Colonel William and Eunice Tully of Saybrook, Connecticut. He graduated from Yale College in 1806. In the spring of 1807, Tully began studying medicine with Mason F. Cogswell of Hartford and in the fall of that year traveled to New Hampshire to study medicine with Nathan Smith at Dartmouth College. Upon his return to Connecticut in 1810, Tully studied under Samuel Carter and entered the office of Eli Ives, later professor of materia medica at Yale. Tully was licensed to practice by the Connecticut Medical Society in 1810 and opened an office in Enfield, Connecticut in 1811. In 1813, he married Mary Potter of Enfield. Tully lived and practiced for several years in Middletown, Connecticut, where he co-authored with Dr. Thomas Miner a book, Essays on Fevers, and Other Medical Subjects (1823). From 1824 to 1830 he was president and professor of medical practice and jurisprudence at the Vermont Academy of Medicine, in Castleton, Vermont. While at Castleton he was appointed professor of materia medica and therapeutics at the Medical Institution of Yale College and moved to New Haven; however he remained on the staff of the Vermont Academy until 1838. Tully resigned his chair at Yale in 1842 and eventually moved to Springfield, Massachusetts, where he lived with his two unmarried daughters, Sarah and Elizabeth. He continued his practice and taught at the Berkshire Medical Institution in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Late in his career, he published Materia Medica, or Pharmacology and Therapeutics (1857-58). He died in Springfield in on February 28, 1859, predeceased by his wife and survived by only three of their eleven children, Sarah, William, and Elizabeth. Sarah and Elizabeth continued to live together in Springfield after their father's death.

The Tully family came to New England from England in the 1640s. Tully's grandfather, William Tully of Saybrook married Elizabeth Lay and had three daughters and a son, Col. William Tully (1758-1811). Col. Tully married his cousin Eunice Tully (1758-1815) and had only one child, William Tully (1785-1859) who became a physician. Dr. William Tully's wife, Mary Potter (1791-1853), was the daughter of the Rev. Elam Potter (1742-1794) of Enfield and Sibyl Pease Potter (1754-1822). Some time after 1799, Sybil Potter was married again to the Rev. Nehemiah Prudden of Enfield, then a widower.

Guide to the Tully Family Papers
Finding aid by Todd A. Lane and Toby A. Appel
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Medical Historical Library, Cushing/Whitney Medical Library Repository

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