Skip to main content

Francis R. Packard papers

Identifier: MSS 2/034

Scope and Contents

This collection of correspondence, addresses, writings, and research materials documents Francis R. Packard's work with the history of medicine and his editorship of "The annals of medical history".

Series 1 contains two collections of Packard's incoming correspondence (1893-1950) with occasional copies of his outgoing letters. Series 1.1 is filed alphabetically by name of correspondent; subjects include submissions to "The annals of medical history", inquiries concerning the history of medicine, and documentation of Packard's professional appointments and work with organizations, such as the American Philosophical Society, Bryn Mawr Hospital, the Library Company of Philadelphia, and the Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. Major correspondents concerning "The annals of medical history" include: Arturo Castiglioni, Harvey Cushing, Sir Ernest Finch, John F. Fulton, Fielding H. Garrison, Paul B. Hoeber, Chevalier Jackson, E. B. Krumbhaar, William S. Middleton, Robert L. Pitfield, Sir Humphrey Rolleston, John Ruhrah, and Richard H. Shryock. There is an extensive collection of letters (1893-1919) from Sir William Osler concerning "The American journal of medical science", the history of medicine, and the death of his son, Revere, as well as a typescript account of the presentation made to Osler on his 70th birthday by the Royal Society of Medicine. Other notable items include correspondence from P. M. Ashburn of the Army Medical Library, W. R. Bett on the Osler Club, Thomas McCrae on Packard's contribution to A system of modern medicine, Charles Singer's letters about a trip to the United States in 1930, and J. William White on the Franklin Inn Club. Series 1.2 is a chronological file, assembled during the last years of Packard's life (1946-1950). The bulk of this correspondence concerns medical history.

Fifteen addresses on topics of medical history or otolaryngology (1894-1942) are preserved in Series 2. Most addresses have complete typescripts, but some exist only in the form of rough notes or fragments and may never have been delivered.

A wide selection of manuscripts of Packard's writings, generally unpublished, is contained in Series 3. There are two book length typescripts, one, a history of surgery (ca.1938), the other, an undated biography of Baron Dominique Larrey, as well as brief articles on Sir William Osler and Crawford W. Long. The series also includes correspondence, reviews, and bills and receipts from Packard's History of medicine in the United States; biographical memoirs of William Pepper, Harrison Smith Morris, and Lawrence Johnson Morris; and a few book reviews written by Packard.

Research materials, mostly undated, which were assembled by Packard for various projects are preserved in Series 4. Most of this material is either on index cards or in the form of manuscript or typescript notes sorted by subject heading. The series includes notes on the lives of Michel de Montaigne and Samuel Pepys; biographical information on physicians who were members of the American Philosophical Society; and an extensive collection of materials relating to medicine and William Shakespeare's work. Packard gathered relevant quotations and explanatory material from Shakespeare's plays and sorted this information by subject, such as aphrodisiacs, fever, insanity, poison, and venomous animals. This series also includes notes on two plays, "The Merry Wives of Windsor" and "King John", and correspondence from Shakespearean scholar Horace Howard Furness.

Series 5 contains a catalogue by slide number and two incomplete subject catalogues for Packard's lantern slide collection on medical history. Packard donated his collection to the Library of the College of Physicians in 1942.

Some information documenting Packard's editorship of "The annals of medical history" is preserved in Series 6. There is one folder of correspondence (1916-1917) from physicians, Harvey Cushing, Mortimer Frank, Abraham Jacobi, Morris Jastrow, Howard A. Kelly, Arnold C. Klebs, and Edward C. Streeter, expressing approval and support of the proposed publication. Packard's card index to authors and submissions as well as an editorial index to book reviews, correspondence, editorials, and news items is included. (Packard's editorial correspondence is interfiled with his personal and professional correspondence in Series

Series 7 is composed of miscellaneous items, including some extensive background material on Crawford W. Long, with correspondence from Long's daughter and biographer, Frances Long Taylor, and Emory A. Bryant; a small collection of medical poetry; printed material from the Royal College of Physicians's 1928 Harvey Tercentenary, which Packard attended as the representative of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia; and a small card file of notes on Packard's otolaryngological patients, sorted by surgical procedure or ailment (1900-1925).


  • 1893 - 1950


Biographical / Historical

Francis Randolph Packard was born in Philadelphia on 23 March 1870. He was the son of John Hooker Packard, a surgeon, and Elisabeth Wood Packard, niece of George B. Wood. Packard's older brother, Frederick A., was also a physician. In 1899, Packard married Christine B. Curwen who died of a brain tumor in 1901. He then married Margaret Horstmann in 1906; the couple had four daughters, Margaret, Ann, Elisabeth, and Francis. Francis R. Packard died, of complications following a fall, in Pennsylvania Hospital on 18 April 1950.

Packard received a Certificate in Biology from the University of Pennsylvania in 1889, then received an M.D. from the Medical Department at the University in 1892. After receiving his degree, Packard went to Johns Hopkins Hospital to do post graduate work under Sir William Osler. He returned to Philadelphia in 1894 and became an intern at Pennsylvania Hospital. Packard opened his medical practice in 1895; by 1898, he had begun to specialize in otolaryngology. In 1898, he became First Lieutenant and Assistant Surgeon in the 2nd Regiment of the Pennsylvania National Guard. During World War I, Packard served as Otologist and Laryngologist at Base Hospital No. 10 and went to France as a member of the Pennsylvania Hospital Unit. He worked as an anesthetist for Charles F. Mitchell during the Passchendaele offensive and was Chief Consultant in Otolaryngology for the District of Paris from 1918 to 1919.

From ca.1897 to 1930, Packard held a post on the otolaryngological faculty at the Philadelphia Polyclinic and College for Graduates in Medicine. He was also Professor of Otology at the University of Pennsylvania (1902-1921), Chief of the Laryngology Department at Pennsylvania Hospital, Consulting Oto Laryngologist to Bryn Mawr Hospital, Consulting Laryngologist to Norristown State Hospital, and Laryngologist to Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (19211925). He was noted for his development of the mastoid periosteal elevator.

Although Packard specialized in otolaryngology, he is most noted for his contributions to medical history. He was the founder and editor (1917-1942) of "The annals of medical history". Packard also edited "The American journal of medical sciences" (1901-1906). He wrote numerous articles on otolaryngological or historical subjects and published several books, including A textbook of diseases of the nose, throat and ear (1909), History of medicine in the United States (1901, revised 1931), and a history of Pennsylvania Hospital (1938).

Packard was a member of many professional organizations, including the American Laryngological Association (President, 1930), the American Otological Society (President, 1935), the Pathological Society of Philadelphia, the American Association for the History of Medicine, and the Royal Society of Medicine (Great Britain). Packard became a Fellow of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia in 1897. He held many offices, including Secretary, Honorary Librarian, Vice President, and Chairman of the Section on Medical History. Packard was President of the College from 1931 to 1933. He was also a member of the American Philosophical Society, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, and the British Officers Club.


12 boxes

Language of Materials


Custodial History

The Francis R. Packard Papers were donated to the Wood Institute of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia by three of Packard's daughters, Mrs. Peyton R. Biddle, Mrs. E. Perot Bissell, Jr., and Mrs. John H. W. Rhein ca.19 December 1979 and 16 February 1980. Sometime after the death of Francis R. Packard, the papers were stored in a suitcase in the basement of the home of Mrs. Peyton R. Biddle in Glenmore, Pa. The collection was reviewed by Ronald F. Kotrc and Samuel X Radbill in 1980. Radbill also appraised the Osler letters in 1980 and assigned them a value of 6140.00.

In 1954, Packard's widow approached the American Philosophical Society about publishing the manuscript biography of Dominique Larrey, but it was refused by the Committee on Publication. In 1980, Ronald F. Kotrc also made an unsuccessful attempt to publish all or part of this manuscript in Transactions and Studies. A study of Packard's Osler correspondence was published by Samuel X Radbill in Transactions and Studies, series 5, volume 6, number 3, September 1984.

This collection of Packard's papers was processed and catalogued in November 1989. Reprints and some duplicate or ephemeral material were removed and discarded. The scrapbook of reviews of Packard's History of medicine was xeroxed and the original discarded. The correspondence in Series 1.1 was in some confusion, possibly reflecting retention in a series of alphabetical box files. It was impossible to reconstruct any original order, so correspondence before 1946 was integrated into one alphabetical sequence.
Francis R. Packard papers
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

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