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Records of the Office of the Curator

Identifier: CPP 7/002-06

Scope and Contents

The collection, 1865-1922, contains correspondence and reports of curators of the Mutter Museum, particularly Thomas Hewson Bache, and letters received by members, generally chairmen, of the Committee on the Mutter Museum, including S. Weir Mitchell, William Hunt, George McClellan, and Henry Morris. Some drafts of minutes and reports of ,the committee are included. The collection documents the early growth and development of the Mutter Museum.

Series 1, records of the curators, includes two volumes of Thomas Hewson Bache's outgoing letters and files of letters received, 1865-1883. The letterbooks also contain reports of the Committee on the Mutter Museum for 1871, 1872, and 1880. Most of the correspondence concerns the purchase, donation, or fabrication of pathological and anatomical specimens, models, and books to augment the collections of the Mutter Museum and the transportation and importation of these items from Europe. Major correspondents are model makers J, Ledion, F. G. Lemercier, F. V. Rohon, and C. Sappey; George A. Otis, Surgeon General of the United States; and bookseller Benjamin Franklin Stevens. Also included are payment authorizations by the College of Physicians for museum bills; two legal opinions on interpretations of the Mutter Trust; and an undated inventory of items in the curator's room. One folder of letters received by Guy Hinsdale, 1885-1898, is included, Also included are four monthly reports made by curator Henry Morris to the Committee on the Mutter Museum, 1920-1926, These reports list the number of visitors, acquisitions, and use of the collections.

Series 2 contains records of members of the Committee on the Mutter Museum, 1865-1922. Series 2.1 contains letters, 1865-1866, of William W. Keen, written from Germany to S. Weir Mitchell, describing anatomical and pathological specimens, photographs, and books available for purchase. Keen includes a catalogue of Carl Thiersch's transparent microscopic injected preparations. Also included is a letter of Owen Wister, offering items of his father, Owen Jones Wister, to S. Weir Mitchell for the Mutter Museum.

Letters of William Hunt, chairman of the museum committee, are in Series 2.2. Included is a series of letters written to Hunt by Thomas Hewson Bache while in Europe, 1882-1883. Bache describes the difficulty of obtaining and transporting specimens, several purchases made for the museum, and the construction of museum cases. Also included is a series of letters from H. D. Schmidt, 1880-1885, describing and selling his preparations of surgical anatomy specimens and microscopic sections. Schmidt describes the procedure for obtaining microscopic sections of the human brain, The series also contains a folder of letters received of George McClellan and correspondence of Henry Morris with descendants of financier Robert Morris on genealogical matters.

Series 2 also contains drafts and copies of museum committee minutes, describing gifts and financial matters, 1913-1922, and reports made by the committee to the College of Physicians, 1897-1914, listing donors, use of the museum, collections, and financial matters. One notable item is a description of the move of the museum to the College's new building on 22nd Street in 1909. One folder of miscellaneous material contains remarks made by D, G. Brinton on the Englemann collection of skull deformities donated to the Mutter Museum by S. Weir Mitchell.


  • 1865 - 1926


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".


.6 Linear feet (3 half document boxes)

Language of Materials


Custodial History

This collection of records of the curators and Committee on the Mutter Museum was transferred to the Historical Collections of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia by Gretchen Worden of the Mutter Museum on 29 August 1991.

The collection was processed and catalogued in 1991.
Records of the Office of the Curator
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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