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Jacob Sharpless essays

Identifier: MSS 2/028

Scope and Contents

These two essays, written early in Jacob Sharpless' medical career, show his concern not only with physical disease but also with social ills.

The first, submitted to the Censors of the Philadelphia Medical Society in application for junior membership in 1816, discusses the causes of injuries to the medulla spinalis or spinal injuries which exhibit no visible fractures. The essay examines current methods of treatment for spinal injuries although Sharpless concedes that the prognosis for such cases is generally poor.

Sharpless' second essay, written in 1817, was submitted to the provost and faculty of the University of Pennsylvania's Department of Medicine in partial fulfillment of a medical degree. In this essay, Sharpless considers the physical and social effects of intemperance, then defines mania a temulenta with its attendant symptoms. Sharpless uses three cases, two from the Philadelphia Alms House and one from the practice of Joseph Klapp, to illustrate his essay and instance a possible treatment through emetics and cathartics.


  • 1816 - 1817


Biographical / Historical

Jacob Sharpless, son of Nathan and Rachel (Baldwin) Sharpless was born in West Chester, Pennsylvania, on 3 August 1791. He attended the University of Pennsylvania and received his M.D. in 1817. Joseph Parrish was his preceptor. The subject of his inaugural essay was mania a potu or temulenta.

From 1819 until his death, Sharpless practiced medicine in Downingtown, Pennsylvania. On 24 April 1828, he married Mary Dowling. He was elected to membership in the Philadelphia Medical Society and, in 1828, was one of the founders of the Chester County Medical Society.

Jacob Sharpless died on 17 February 1863 in Downingtown.


2 items

Language of Materials


Physical Location

Small collections

Custodial History

These two essays of Joseph Sharpless were purchased by the Historical Collections of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia from Bruce J. Ramer Experimenta, 401 East 80th Street, New York, NY, 10021, on 3 June 1987. The essays were catalogued in August 1989.
Jacob Sharpless essays
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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