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Edmund B. Piper papers

Identifier: MSS 2/017

Scope and Contents

This small collection of Edmund B. Piper Papers consists of two items of correspondence received, 1918 and 1924; and typescripts of five speeches, 1915-1931. The collection documents Piper's experiences in World War I and his work with the treatment of septicemia.

In Series 1, the letter, dated 28 June 1918, by Robert G. LeConte to Piper describes an offensive attack on a French mobile hospital and conditions at Hospital No.1 at Neuilly. The letter from Irene F. Lamb of Women's Hospital of Philadelphia gives a report of two patients who were treated with mercurochrome in 1924.

In Series 2, Piper's 1915 speech, "Personal impressions of the surgery of the Great War" (1) describes his experiences earlier that year as an Assistant Surgeon with the University of Pennsylvania Unit of the American Ambulance in France. Piper gives an account of conditions in the war hospital at Neuilly; classifies wounds and surgical techniques; and describes the use of hydraulic pressure to irrigate wounds and promote continuous free drainage as well as the gas bacillus infection. By contrast, the speech (2) which Piper delivered to the Clearfield County Medical Society in 1919, describes his experiences in the United States Army in 1917. He recounts conditions at the Medical Officers Training Camp at Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, then his experiences at Brest in Field Hospital No.42 and Camp Hospital No.48. Piper gives several examples of friction between the military commanders and medical staff.

Speeches 3 and 4 give information on Piper's work using Mercurochrome 220 to combat infection and septicemia. "Blood stream infection", 1924, gives accounts of several patients at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and their experiences with this treatment, while "Intravenous use" distinguishes between bacteremia and septicemia and examines the historical basis for treating septicemia with Mercurochrome 220.

Speech 5, "The psychological duty of the obstetrician", 1931, is Piper's argument to slow the rate of divorce due to sexual incompatibility through premarital education by obstetricians.


  • 1915 - 1931


Biographical / Historical

Edmund Brown Piper was born in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, on April 20, 1881. After receiving a B.S. from Princeton University in 1902, he worked for the Williamsport Water Company. In 1911, he received his M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. He then served internships at the Children's Seashore House, Mercy Hospital, and the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. In 1914, Piper became an Associate in Obstetrics in the Medical School at Penn and, specializing in obstetrics and gynecology, began his private practice.

From July through December, 1915, Piper was in France as a member of the University of Pennsylvania Unit of the American Ambulance Hospital. He served as an Assistant Surgeon. In 1918, he returned to France as a Major in the United States Army. He was the Commanding Officer of Field Hospital No.42 and Camp Hospitals Nos. 41, 48, and 50. Piper was discharged in 1919.

During his career, Edmund B. Piper held numerous obstetrical positions in Philadelphia area hospitals and institutions. He was an Obstetrician at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital, Philadelphia General Hospital, the Philadelphia Lying in Hospital, Chestnut Hill Hospital, Bryn Mawr Hospital, Professor of Obstetrics at both the Medical School and Graduate School of Medicine of the University of Pennsylvania, and Consultant in Obstetrics at Bryn Mawr Hospital, Kensington Hospital for Women, Misericordia Hospital, and the Preston Retreat.

In 1922, Piper proved that, in cases of septicemia, blood could be sterilized with mercurochrome. In 1929, he described a new forceps to be used in cases of aftercoming head during delivery and also modified the axis traction forceps, outlet forceps, and a leg holder.

Piper became a fellow of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia in 1917. He was also a member of the American Gynecological Society, the American College of Surgeons, the

Pathological Society of Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Obstetrical Society (President in 1924), the Philadelphia County Medical Society, and the Medical Club of Philadelphia.

Edmund B. Piper died of cardiac problems in January 14, 1935.


0.2 Linear feet (1 half document box)

Language of Materials


Custodial History

The collection of Edmund B.Piper correspondence and speeches was donated to the Historical Collections of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia by Mrs. Donaldson Cresswell of Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, through David Y. Cooper in January, 1988. The collection was processed in May, 1989. During the course of processing, eleven Piper reprints were removed for cataloguing and integration into the library collection.
Edmund B. Piper 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