Manuscripts and Archives of the Historical Medical Library of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia

Correspondence of the Office of the Curator Edit


CPP 7/002-07


  • 1828 – 1981 (Creation)


  • 5.2 Linear feet (Whole)
    13 document boxes

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  • Biographical / Historical

    The office of Curator of the Mutter Museum of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia was established in 1863, following the agreement made by the College with Thomas D, Mutter in 1858. This was originally an elective College office which carried a salary of $300 provided by the Mutter Trust. The first curator of the Mutter Museum, Thomas George Morton, had been curator of the College's Pathological Cabinet, which was absorbed into the museum.

    The 1863 by-laws of the College state that the curator was an ex officio member of the Committee on the Mutter Museum. His duties included preparation and labelling of specimens; general care of the museum; and maintenance of a catalogue and records for each specimen. From 1870 to 1914, the curator was required to report on new donations to the museum at meetings of the College. The 1886 by-laws provided for the annual nomination of the curator, who was not required to be a Fellow of the College, by the Committee on the Mutter Museum. The appointment was then made by the College. In 1935, the Committee on College Collections nominated a Custodian to Council; this office was to be filled by the museum curator. In 1988, the title of "Curator of the Mutter Museum" was changed to "Director".

  • Scope and Contents

    This collection of correspondence with related reports and committee minutes of the curators and custodians of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia's Mutter Museum and College Collections, 1828-1981, documents the acquisition of specimens, instruments, portraits, and medals, as well as the use and development of the collections.

    Series 1 contains records of the museum curators, including a disbound letterbook, 1849-1894, and letters, 1828-1939, concerning the acquisition, disposition, and purchase of specimens. In addition to letters of Thomas Hewson Bache, the series includes correspondence files concerning museum business from curators Clarence Hoffman, 1912-1923, Henry Morris, 1923-1926, and Harry P. Schenck, 1925-1935; monthly reports of the curators, 1923-1929; acknowledgements of gifts by Ella N. Wade, 1940-1959; and correspondence files of Ella N. Wade and Elizabeth Moyer concerning specific inqu1r1es about the collections, 1924-1972, and visits to the museum, 1923-1963. Notable correspondents in the series include: Joseph Hyrtl, William W. Keen, Joseph Leidy, Sir William Osler, Ralph Pemberton, and Hermine (Mrs. H. D.} Schmidt. Information on insurance of the collections and the construction and purchase of museum cases and jars is also included.

    Correspondence files of the custodians of the College Collections are in Series 2. In addition to Ella N. Wade's acknowledgements of gifts, 1935-1966, there are files concerning the acquisition, conservation, and loan of badges, busts, medals, and portraits. The series also includes correspondence files, 1922-1935, of Acting Custodian Alfred James Ostheimer with information on the College medal collections and an inventory of its portraits, engravings, and photographs.

    The files of the chairmen of the Committee on the Mutter Museum in Series 3 contain records of the Thomas Dent Mutter Lectureship in Surgical Pathology, including correspondence with lecturers, 1907-1931, receipts for honoraria, 1879- 1914, and lists of lectures, 1909-1938; general correspondence files of chairmen George A, McClellan, 1907- 1912, Henry Morris, 1912-1921, George Fetterolf, 1923-1926, and George P. Muller, 1926-1934; records, 1938-1939, of the chairmanship of J. Parsons Schaeffer; correspondence of the committee's secretary, Herbert Fox, 1923-1933; annual reports, 1907-1928 and 1952-1970; financial reports, 1909- 1930; reports to College Council, 1952-1978; and duplicate committee minutes, 1952-1981.

    Series 4 contains Herbert Fox's correspondence files, minutes, and reports, 1935-1940, from his chairmanship of the Committee on College Collections and duplicate committee minutes, 1952-1971. (Duplicate minutes of this committee after 1973 are interfiled with the minutes of the Committee on the Mutter Museum.)

  • Custodial History

    The correspondence files of the Office of the Curator of the Mutter Museum of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia were transferred to the Historical Collections from the Mutter Museum by Gretchen Worden, Director of the Mutter Museum, on 29 August 1991.

    The collection was processed and catalogued in 1992.

External Documents