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Elisha Bartlett papers

Call Number: MS 1279

Scope and Contents

The Elisha Bartlett Papers consist of the correspondence, writings, and notes documenting Bartlett's medical education, his travels in Europe, and the study and teaching of medicine during the first half of the 19th century. Also included are letters to Harvey Cushing concerning the Bartlett papers.

The correspondence (folders 1 – 14), which is arranged chronologically, begins in 1826 as Bartlett prepares to depart for Europe in order to attend medical lectures in Paris. Bartlett wrote long, detailed letters to his family (folders 1 – 2) describing his impressions of Paris, his domestic arrangements, and his visits to museums, churches, and celebrations. He gives fewer details of his medical studies, teachers, and visits to state-supported medical institutions. He also sent his father a lengthy description of the production of sugar from beets. While not attending lectures Bartlett visited Italy and London, and the letters also contain details of these excursions. In folders 9 and 10 there are additional travel letters, addressed "to my friends at home" giving very detailed descriptions of another visit to England and the continent, 1845-46.

The rest of the correspondence is composed of letters received by Bartlett from friends and colleagues. Some of these items relate to appointments and affairs at Transylvania University and the University of Louisville. Several letters written in 1842 congratulate Bartlett on the publication of Fevers in the United States. Succeeding letters often contain requests for information on the diagnosis and treatment of various diseases, including black tongue, typhoid, and ship fever. A few letters in 1848 concern the safety of drinking water conducted through lead pipes, and folder 13 contains a discussion of color blindness.

Folders 15 – 17 contain Bartlett's notes on medical lectures he attended in the United States and in France. Included are bound volumes of notes of James Jackson's lectures on the theory and practice of physick and Jacob Bigelow's lectures on materia medica. Bartlett's writings in folders 18 – 19 include poems, essays, drafts for unidentified medical works, and a printed copy of Bartlett's defense of the employment of women in Lowell's textile mills.

Folder 21 contains letters to Harvey Cushing, who collected the Bartlett papers and donated them to the Yale University Historical Medical Library. The papers were transferred to Manuscripts and Archives in 1980.


  • 1821-1936


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Unpublished materials authored or otherwise produced by the creator(s) of this collection are in the public domain. There are no restrictions on use. Copyright status for other collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Transferred from the Yale University Medical Historical Library, 1980.


1 Linear Feet (2 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL


The papers consist of correspondence, writing, and notes of Elisha Bartlett, documenting his medical education, travels in Europe, and study and teaching of medicine. Also included are letters to Harvey Cushing concerning the Bartlett Papers.

Biographical / Historical

Elisha Bartlett was a physician, professor of medicine, and author. He lectured at various medical schools including Transylvania University and the University of Louisville. Bartlett was a leading authority on typhoid fever. He was also the first mayor of Lowell, Massachusetts.

Guide to the Elisha Bartlett Papers
Under Revision
compiled by Diane E. Kaplan and William E. Brown, Jr.
August 1985
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

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