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William J. Taylor correspondence

Identifier: MSS 2/264

Scope and Contents

This collection of William J. Taylor's letters spans 1892 to 1933. The letters are divided into four sections: Taylor's outgoing letters, some of which were written during World War I; incoming letters from other physicians offering or requesting advice about surgical procedures; incoming letters from Mary Scott Newbold lecturers; and miscellaneous incoming letters. Section 1 contains Taylor's outgoing letters to John B. Roberts and Charles Perry Fisher. Two of the letters to Fisher were written while Taylor was stationed at Base Hospital No. 10 in France during World War I. In these letters, Taylor discusses the conditions in France and England and sends news about other Fellows of the College of Physicians who were stationed overseas. Also included in Section 1 is Taylor's letter to Dr. Howe in which he encloses his recipe for kumiss.

The letters in Section 2 are from other physicians; some of the letters request advice in surgical matters, others offer advice. Included are Elizabeth Atlee's notes pertaining to the relationship between weight and uterine cancer; W. S. Halsted's report on his book about hernias; William H. Hudson's letter offering special equipment for use in cranial surgery; a letter from Thomas W. Huntington describing his experiences with incipient hip disease; and letters from Hugh H. Young describing his method of prostatectomy. Also present is a letter from J. R. Umstad asking Taylor for advice on a brain abscess in one of his patients.

Section 3 contains letters from Mary Scott Newbold lecturers, including John I. Hunter and N. D. Royle (1924), Sir Wilfred Grenfell (1930), Charles Singer (1930), Michel Weinberg (1930), W. J. Merle Scott (1931), Sir Thomas Lewis (1931), F. J. Lang (1931), and Ronald T. Grant (1933). In their letters, the lecturers discuss the arrangements for their visit to the College of Physicians and announce their selected lecture topics.

Miscellaneous letters are contained in Section 4. Included are letters from Mary Scott Newbold lecturers Sir Humphry Rolleston (1928) and M. W. Ireland (1921), Surgeon General of the U. S. Army.


  • 1892 - 1933


Biographical / Historical

William Johnson Taylor was born in Worcester County, Maryland, on 13 October 1861. He attended medical school at the University of Pennsylvania and received his degree in 1882. After his residency at Pennsylvania Hospital, he established a private practice in Philadelphia. Taylor's interest in surgery brought him to the attention of William W. Keen, who hired Taylor as his assistant at the Philadelphia Orthopaedic Hospital and Infirmary for Nervous Diseases. Later, Taylor became Attending Surgeon at the hospital.

Taylor became a Fellow of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia in 1889 and was always an active member. He served as a Censor, a member of Council, and Chairman of the Library Committee. Taylor was a key member of the College's Building Committee (1904-1914), the body largely responsible for the erection of the College building on 22nd Street. Taylor was also a Fellow of the Philadelphia Academy of Surgery and served as its president from 1908 to 1909.

During World War I, Taylor went overseas with a Pennsylvania Hospital Unit stationed in France. Upon his return from the war, Taylor was elected President of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia; he served in this capacity for three years, from 1919 to 1922. It was during Taylor's presidency that Marie Curie visited the College and donated her electrometer to its collections. In addition to his skill as a physician, William J. Taylor had a sincere interest in books and libraries. He served on the Board of the Library Company of Philadelphia for over twenty years; he was Director of the Library Company in 1909 and its president from 1933 to 1935, until illness forced him to retire. William J. Taylor died less than a year later, on 22 January 1936.


4 folders

Language of Materials


Physical Location

Small collections

Custodial History

Most of the letters in this collection of William J. Taylor's correspondence were donated by Taylor to the Library of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia on 10 May 1935. Two of the letters were donated by John B. Roberts on 16 April 1925. The source of the other letters in the collection is unknown.

The collection was processed and catalogued in 1992.
William J. Taylor correspondence
Language of description
Script of description
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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