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Robert M. Girvin papers

Identifier: MSS 2/047

Scope and Contents

This small collection of papers of Robert M. Girvin includes personal letters from Reinhold L. Herman, 1876-1877 and 1898; letters from Charles P. B. Jefferys, 1875 and 1878, reporting on the health of Charley [Jefferys' son?], suffering from liver and kidney disorder; two letters, 1878, from Amos Row, containing inquiries about the use of "mannikins" for anatomical instruction; and letters, 18711872, from a former patient, Caroline McGehee Stewart, describing her experiences with menstruation, pregnancy, and tapeworm for which Girvin prescribed kousso [brayera].

Series 2 contains a lengthy daily account, 1871, by one of Girvin's patients [J.C.M.?] which describes the symptoms and treatment for cancer of the colon. The patient was treated with a combination of opium, enemas, condurango bark, and electricity. A few miscellaneous letters received by John H. Girvin, a physician and one of Robert M. Girvin's sons, are contained in Series 3. Correspondents include: John C. Heisler, ca.1900, J. H. Musser, 1900, and Charles A. Oliver, 1901.


  • 1871 - 1908


Biographical / Historical

Robert M. Girvin, Philadelphia obstetrician, was born in Strasburg, Pennsylvania, on 3 February 1836. He married Susan Bell Harper in 1866 or 1867; the Girvins had six children, including John H. Girvin (1869-1938), a physician, Charles J., Robert H., Jr., Mary, and Helene. Robert M. Girvin died on 17 March 1900 of angina pectoris.

Girvin received his M.D. from Jefferson Medical College in 1862 and then became a Resident Physician at Philadelphia Hospital. At the end of his residency, he worked at the Satterlee Hospital for the duration of the Civil War, and then opened his private practice in West Philadelphia.

From 1865 to 1876, Girvin was a member of the obstetrical staff at Philadelphia Hospital. He also helped to establish the Presbyterian Hospital in Philadelphia in 1871 and was Consulting Physician in the Department of Diseases of Women there.

Robert H. Girvin was elected to fellowship in the College of Physicians of Philadelphia in 1885. He was also a member of the Philadelphia County Medical Society, the Medical Society of the State of Pennsylvania, and the Philadelphia Obstetrical Society.


.2 Linear feet (1 box)

Language of Materials


Custodial History

This collection of Robert M. Girvin's papers was donated to the Historical Collections of the Library of the College of Physicians as part of a large gift by Samuel X Radbill, ca. April 1984.
Robert M. Girvin papers
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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