Medical and Chirurgical Faculty of Maryland manuscript collection
These manuscripts, originally collected at the Medical and Chirurgical Faculty of Maryland, document the history of the medical profession in Maryland in the form of lecture notes, correspondence, and case records from both individual physicians and prominent medical families. Major medical organizations, especially the Baltimore General Dispensary, are represented by ledgers, minutes, patient and physician daily records.
- Majority of material found in 1790-1930
- Medical and Chirurgical Faculty of the State of Maryland (Organization)
Conditions Governing Access
The collection is open for research use.
Conditions Governing Use
The reproduction of materials in this collection may be subject to copyright restrictions. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine and satisfy copyright clearances or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections. For more information visit the MCHC’s Rights and Permissions page.
Biographical / Historical
The Medical and Chirurgical Faculty of Maryland (MedChi) was incorporated by an act of the Legislature in 1799, in response to a petition from the academically-trained members of the medical establishment. Its purpose was to “prevent the citizens from risking their lives in the hands of ignorant practitioners or pretenders to the healing art.” When it incorporated, MedChi was given the power to examine and license physicians and it is one of the oldest medical societies in the United States. While it no longer carries this responsibility, it still focuses on providing quality health care for Maryland citizens through continuing medical education, peer review, and public health initiatives.
The prominent medical families represented in this collection include:
John Archer (1741-1810) was born near Churchville in Harford County. After studying at Princeton College, he began a career as a Presbyterian minister; but in 1765 he entered the new College of Medicine in Philadelphia, and in 1768 became the first to receive its Bachelor of Medicine diploma. He supported the Revolution and served as a delegate to the Maryland Constitutional Convention of 1776. At home in Harford County, he established “Medical Hall” as a school where he instructed about fifty pupils, including his own sons.
Of Archer’s four sons, three are represented in the collection: Thomas Archer (1768-1821), Robert Harris Archer (1775-1857), and John Archer, Jr. (1777-1830). Thomas, who like his father was a founder of MedChi, is said to have stayed close to home due to fragile health, but apparently also heard lectures from Benjamin Rush in Philadelphia. Richard Harris Archer practiced in Baltimore 1798-1805 as a physician to City Hospital; he later moved to Cecil County, then back to Harford County, and also served in the Legislature. Less is known about John Jr., but he also went to Philadelphia and became the first in his family to earn an M.D.
The first physician of note to settle in Baltimore was Charles Frederick Wiesenthal (1726-1789), who emigrated from Prussia in 1755. He became involved in efforts to organize a medical society, and also established a small anatomical school at his residence. His only son was Andrew Wiesenthal (1762-1798), who took over the school after attending medical lectures in both Philadelphia and London. Andrew married Sarah Van Dyke from the Eastern Shore, and their son Thomas Van Dyke Wiesenthal (1790-1833) was born in Chestertown. He earned an M.D. in Philadelphia, served as Surgeon-Major in the U.S. Sixth Infantry, and was appointed Assistant Surgeon to the U.S. Navy in 1814. The Wiesenthal manuscripts here consist primarily of personal correspondence and legal documents.
Pierre Chatard (1767-1848) came from a family with roots in medieval France, and was the first in a line of Chatard physicians in Maryland that continued through the 20th century. He was born in San Domingo but earned his M.D. in France, at the University of Montpellier in 1788. In 1794 he came to Wilmington, Delaware, but in 1800 moved to Baltimore, where he practiced at Baltimore Hospital and taught at Washington Medical College. His son Ferdinand Edme Chatard (1805-1888) earned his M.D. at the University of Maryland in 1826, and his son Ferdinand Edme Chatard, Jr. (1839-1900) studied at Mount Saint Mary’s College in Emmitsburg before taking the M.D. at University of Maryland in 1861. In addition, there was a brother of Ferdinand Edme Chatard, Jr., Silas Marean (or Silas Francis Marean) Chatard (1834-1918), who earned his M.D. with a thesis on yellow fever in 1856, practiced briefly in Baltimore but then entered the Roman Catholic priesthood, eventually becoming Bishop of Indianapolis.
Richard Gundry and Family
Richard Gundry (1830-1891) was born in Hampstead, England, but emigrated to Canada in 1845. He took his M.D. at Harvard in 1851, and after some travel abroad obtained a teaching position at Sterling Medical College in Columbus, Ohio. In 1855, he was appointed assistant physician to the Columbus Insane Asylum; then in 1857, he was transferred to the Southern Ohio Insane Asylum in Dayton, where he became medical superintendant in 1861. He held a similar position in Athens, Ohio 1872-1877 and then went back to Columbus, but in 1878 he resigned his position due to problems with state politics. It was then that he came to Maryland, serving as Superintendant of the Maryland Hospital for the Insane, which is now called Spring Grove Hospital Center.
Beginning in 1880, Gundry was also Professor of Materia Medica, Therapeutics and Mental Diseases at the College of Physicians and Surgeons in Baltimore, an institution that later merged with the University of Maryland School of Medicine. The collection preserves his many lectures, addresses, and articles which were carefully written out in longhand (but are mostly undated).
Gundry and his wife Mary had four sons and four daughters. Three of the sons, Richard F., Lewis H., and Alfred Gundry became physicians, and one daughter, Mattie Gundry, became superintendant of a home for feeble-minded children in Falls Church, Virginia. Alfred was the father of Rachel K. Gundry, who earned her M.D. at the University of Maryland in 1931 and conducted medical research which was published in the 1950s.
Julius and Harry Friedenwald
The brothers Julius and Harry Friedenwald were two members of a distinguished Baltimore medical family. Their father, Aaron Friedenwald, was a founder of the College of Physicians and Surgeons (1872), at which they both became faculty members. Julius (1866-1941) earned his M.D. at the College in 1890, then went on to study at Berlin and Vienna. As Professor of Diseases of the Stomach, he published numerous articles in his field, many of which are in the Historical Society’s library (see Catalog). Harry Friedenwald (1864-1950) took his M.D. in 1886 and became a professor of ophthalmology. He also had a keen interest in history, and most of his publications in the library are about Jewish contributions to medicine. The MedChi manuscripts contain primarily the travel diaries of Julius, plus a scrapbook collected by Harry on his 1886 graduating class.
Baltimore General Dispensary
As a response to the inadequacies of almshouses, a group of Baltimore philanthropists formed the Baltimore General Dispensary in 1801 as a society “for the purpose of furnishing medical relief to the indigent poor.” In 1807 it became the third corporation to be chartered by the State of Maryland.
Supported by private donations, but always in precarious financial shape, the Dispensary was not a hospital but a group of physicians who visited the poor in their homes, according to assigned districts. The Dispensary did have a headquarters in downtown Baltimore, which changed location many times; it housed offices, meeting rooms, and an apothecary. The organization operated under a Board of Managers, which selected the physicians who applied for work. In 1959 the Dispensary was closed and transformed into a foundation which contributed funds to hospitals for the purchase of medicines.
Its written documents, including minutes of meetings, patient case records and physician daily records, were deposited with MedChi and remained there until transferred to the Maryland Historical Society. Printed copies of the Dispensary’s charters and bylaws are kept separately in the library’s book collection.
Additional note: The physician daily records begin with 1831, but according to C. Herbert Baxley’s History of the Baltimore General Dispensary (1963), the earliest of these records deposited with MedChi begin with 1821; to date, these have not been found.
39 Linear Feet (78 boxes)
Language of Materials
The collection have been arranged into nine series. The first five series bring together the papers of physicians who belonged to prominent medical families, from the 18th to the 20th century.
Series I: Archer Family: contains some documents related to the first John Archer, followed by case and lecture notes taken by his three sons, primarily from the lectures of Benjamin Rush in Philadelphia.
Series II: Wiesenthal Family: has more in the way of correspondence and legal contracts within the family of Andrew Wiesenthal.
Series III: Chatard Family: also contains correspondence, mainly from Pierre Chatard, but also volumes of obstetrical case records from Pierre and Ferdinand.
Series IV: Richard Gundry and Family: is divided into three subseries for this extensive collection of correspondence, handwritten lectures and articles, plus additional notes and papers.
Series V: Julius and Harry Friedenwald: consists mainly of travel diaries and memorabilia from the 1920s and 1930s.
After the medical families comes Series VI: Individual Physicians A-Z the largest series in the collection. The manuscripts here are arranged in alphabetical order of names; they are preceded by “Anonymous” papers, which include lecture notes for which the lecturer may be known, but the note-taker is not.
The last three series record the activities of medical organizations, beginning with Series VII: Baltimore General Dispensary. This is followed by Series VIII: MedChi which includes the papers of longtime librarian Marcia Noyes, and typescript versions of lectures from the Trimble and other annual lecture series delivered at MedChi. Finally, Series IX: Other Medical Organizations A-Z contains minutes and other records from a variety of organizations, primarily in Baltimore.
In summary, the series break down as follows:
Series I: Archer Family, 1767-1805 [Boxes 1-3]
Series II: Wiesenthal Family, 1787-1821 [Box 4]
Series III: Chatard Family, 1797-1884 [Boxes 5-7]
Series IV: Richard Gundry and Family, 1858-1902
Subseries A: Biography and Correspondence [Box 8]
Subseries B: Lectures, Addresses, and Articles [Boxes 8-11]
Subseries C: Additional papers and records [Boxes 12-14]
Series V: Julius and Harry Friedenwald, 1925-1937 [Boxes 15-17]
Series VI: Individual Physicians A-Z, 1706-1946 [Boxes 18-55, 8 flat]
Series VII: Baltimore General Dispensary, 1801-1945 [Boxes 56-68, 3 flat]
Series VIII: MedChi, 1823-1972 [Boxes 69-73]
Series IX: Other Medical Organizations A-Z, 1753-1966 [Boxes 74-78, 2 flat]
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Transferred from the Medical and Chirurgical Faculty of Maryland in 1999.
Photographic material was separated from the MedChi manuscripts to form its own collection:
PP 0253, Marcia Noyes photograph collection, circa 1880s-1940s
The Louis A. M. Krause materials were also originally part of the MedChi manuscripts, but have now been arranged as separate collections due to its size:
MS 3081, Louis A. M. Krause papers, 1908-1985
PP 0254, Louis A. M. Krause photograph collection, 1907-1968
A library was established at MedChi in 1830, and over time it gathered a collection of historical materials through member donations. In 1999, the library was closed and most of these materials, both manuscripts and rare books, were transferred to the library of the Maryland Historical Society. An initial survey was undertaken in 2003, and the manuscripts have now been arranged and made available for public use.
Scope and Contents
This manuscript collection is an outstanding resource for the history of medicine in Maryland. It was previously located at the Medical and Chirurgical Faculty of Maryland, which is now called MedChi: The Maryland State Medical Society. This organization was incorporated by an act of the Legislature in 1799, in response to a petition from the academically-trained members of the medical establishment. Its purpose was to “prevent the citizens from risking their lives in the hands of ignorant practitioners or pretenders to the healing art.”
The collection ranges in date from the early 18th to the mid-20th century. It consists of correspondence, case histories, and a large number of lecture notes, taken from medical instructors at universities not only in Maryland but also Philadelphia, Britain, and Germany. The bulk of the papers are those of individual physicians, but some are from prominent medical families such as Archer, Wiesenthal, and Chatard. In addition there are records from medical organizations, most notably the Baltimore General Dispensary. Other outstanding items include a requisition for medicines at Fort McHenry during the War of 1812; the extensive writings on care of the mentally ill by Richard Gundry; and an unpublished biography of William Osler.
- Guide to the Medical and Chirurgical Faculty of Maryland manuscript collection
- Under Revision
- Original boxing and cataloging done at Medical and Chirurgical Faculty of Maryland (MedChi). Boxes and folders rearranged and numbered by Richard Y. Meier.
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Code for undetermined script
- 2020-03-27: Manually entered into ArchivesSpace by Sandra Glascock