Scope and Contents
Correspondence forms a small part of the papers and gives little information upon such intriguing subjects as Beard's collaboration with Thomas Edison or his experiments in London on spiritualism. There, are, however, a few letters from such notable men as Wendell Phillips, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Rev. Joseph Cooke, Thomas Edison, William Crookes, D. B. St. John Roosa, and Lester Ward. In addition, there are important letters in the correspondence of his daughter, Grace. Orphaned at the age of seven, when both of her parents died within one week of each other, she attempted to satisfy her curiosity about her father's life and works, especially his work in spiritualism, by corresponding with many of his colleagues and contemporaries. The most notable of these are: Simon E. Baldwin, Professor William Henry Brewer, Charles L. Dana, Timothy Dwight, Thomas Edison, and Alfred R. Wallace.
The George Miller Beard Papers were donated to Yale University by Mr. and Mrs. George Beard Walker in 1970. Mr. Walker is the grandson of George M. Beard and the son of Grace Alden Beard. The originals of the photo-copies were returned to Mr. and Mrs. Walker after the copies were made.
Conditions Governing Access
Conditions Governing Use
Immediate Source of Acquisition
1.5 Linear Feet (3 boxes)
Language of Materials
Biographical / Historical
With A. D. Rockwell, Beard published many works on the use of electricity in medical treatment. These studies resulted in the isolation of a complaint, nervous exhaustion or neurasthenia, to which, as Beard explained in his book, American Nervousness(1881), Americans seemed particularly susceptible. Beard also attributed hay-fever, sea sickness, and certain sexual problems to nervous disorders.
Beard championed the rights of the insane and was instrumental in the formation of the "National Association for the Protection of the Insane and Prevention of Insanity." He worked to reform the law so that the insane could not be found guilty of crime, and was famous for vigorously defending this opinion in the case of Charles J. Guiteau, the assassin of President Garfield.
Interested in spiritualism, Beard carried out many experiments in order to prove his theory that mind reading, trances and other manifestations of spiritualism had physiological explanations. His demonstrations at medical association conferences seem to have excited considerable controversy.
Beard died at the age of 44, but during his short life he was a prolific writer and an active campaigner for medical and social causes. His works range from those with a popular appeal, such as Our Home Physician, to scholarly treatises, like the Medical Use of Electricity. Beard's attention to original and frequently unusual research opened up a field of medicine which had been generally neglected until that time. His works were written with vigor and sometimes with unpleasant bluntness, but he was praised after his death in 1883 by a colleague, William Crookes, as "one of that rare class of thinkers who dare to utter their thoughts, and who discuss matters to which the world is glad to close its eyes."
Biographical material may be found in SERIES I, folder 20; and SERIES III, folder 2.
- Baldwin, Simeon E. (Simeon Eben), 1840-1927
- Beard, Elizabeth Alden
- Beard, George M. (George Miller), 1839-1883
- Beard, Grace Alden
- Beard, Lucy Leonard
- Beard, Spencer F.
- Brewer, William Henry, 1828-1910
- Cooke, Joseph Brown, 1868-
- Crookes, William, 1832-1919
- Dana, Charles L. (Charles Loomis), 1852-1935
- Dwight, Timothy, 1828-1916
- Edison, Thomas A. (Thomas Alva), 1847-1931
- Guiteau, Charles J. (Charles Julius), 1841-1882
- Holmes, Oliver Wendell, 1809-1894
- Insanity (Law)
- Mental illness
- Nervous system -- Diseases
- Older people -- Employment
- Phillips, Wendell, 1811-1884
- Popular culture
- Psychology, Pathological
- Roosa, D. B. St. John (Daniel Bennett St. John), 1838-1908
- Sexual disorders
- Wallace, Alfred Russel, 1823-1913
- Ward, Lester F. (Lester Frank), 1841-1913
- Guide to the George Miller Beard Papers
- Under Revision
- Compiled by Rosalind Haworth
- November 1970
- Description rules
- Finding Aid Created In Accordance With Manuscripts And Archives Processing Manual
- Language of description note
- Finding aid written in English.
Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository
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