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Peirce family papers

Identifier: MSS 2/308
The collection contains medical education and personal papers, 1824-1895, of three physicians of the Peirce family of Maine.

Series 1 includes volumes of notes, 1824-1825, taken by James H. Peirce on Nathan Smith's lectures on surgery and the theory and practice of physic at the Medical School of Maine. One volume of notes on the anatomy and physiology lectures of John D. Wells is included. The series also includes Peirce's rough notes for an essay, probably his medical thesis, on indigestion, circa 1825, and a promissory note and two receipts from his later practice, 1842 and 1866.

Papers, 1854-1860, of B. F. Peirce in Series 2 include fragments of a diary, [1854] Dec. 27-1859 Apr. 29, which document Peirce's life, social and religious activities, and farming experiences in Maine, as well as his life in Boston while a student at Harvard Medical School. The series includes several of B. F. Peirce's letters, 1857-1859, describing his life as a student at the Medical School of Maine and at Harvard Medical College and a letter, 17 May 1858, from M. E. Simmons concerning his own medical studies and members of the 1858 medical class at Harvard. Roughjnotes for essays on pneumonia and tuberculosis, circa 1860; undated notes for an address on slavery; and one folder of miscellaneous material from Peirce's medical studies, 18551860, are also included.

Series 3 documents the medical education of James Peirce and includes 21 letters to family members, 1869-1886, primarily concerning his student experiences in the Medical Department of the University of the City of New York and early years of medical practice in Methuen, Mass. Several receipts from his practice, 1875, and one folder of miscellaneous letters and visiting cards, 1869-1895, are included.

A single folder of miscellaneous letters and other material, 1843-1894, in Series 4 includes a letter dated 12 March 1857 from Albion K. P. [Meserve], describing his student experiences at the Medical School of Maine.


  • 1824 - 1895



.4 Linear feet (1 box)

Biographical / Historical

James Hamilton Peirce, Waterboro, Me., physician was born on 3 October 1803 and received an M.D. from the Medical School of Maine at Bowdoin College in 1825. His thesis was on indigestion. Peirce had several children, including two physicians, B. F. Peirce and James Peirce. James H. Peirce died on 2 August 1878.

Benjamin Franklin Peirce was born on 23 February 1837. Although he attended courses at the Medical School of Maine in 1857 and 1859 and received an M.D. from Harvard Medical School in 1860. B. F. Peirce became an assistant surgeon in the U.S. Navy in 1861 and drowned in the Mississippi River on 9 March 1864.

James Peirce was born in 1847 or 1848. He received an M.D. from the University of the City of New York in 1871, then opened a practice in Methuen, Mass. He became a member of the Massachusetts Medical Society in 1879. James Peirce died on 25 August 1902.

Custodial History

The collection of Peirce family papers was purchased through a gift of the Samuel Lewis Circle from Trotting Hill Park Books on 15 February 1994.

The papers were processed and catalogued in 1994.

Repository Details

Part of the Historical Medical Library of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia Repository

19 S. 22nd Street
Philadelphia PA 19103 United States