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Wilson family papers

Identifier: MSS 2/295

Scope and Contents

The collection contains a small assortment of papers concerning the Wilson family of Philadelphia, 18611950.

Folder 1 includes letters, bills, an address, signature cuttings, fragments of a student diary, and a typescript obituary of J. C. Wilson; most of this material documents the career and professional appointments of Dr. Wilson. Folder 2 contains two undated photoprints of J. C. Wilson. A typescript genealogical history of the Wilson family, compiled by physician W. Reynolds Wilson, circa 1935, is in Folder 3. Clippings, many concerning the career, life, and estate of J. C. Wilson, 1889-1950, are in Folder 4.


  • 1861 - 1950


Biographical / Historical

James Cornelius Wilson was the eldest son of Dr. Ellwood Wilson, and his wife Hannah Paul (Shallcross) Wilson. He was born in Philadelphia, March 25, 1847. His early education was acquired at the Friends' Central School and a small private school conducted by the Reverend Dr. Malin. Later he went to Phillips Exeter Academy, and, thence, to Princeton College, here he graduated A.B. in 1867. He then began the study of medicine at Jefferson Medical College from which he received his M.D. in 1869, and in the followiipg year (1870) got his M.A. from Princeton. After serving as resident physician in the Will's Eye Hospital and the Pennsylvania Hospital, he went abroad for further study in Dresden and Vienna. Upon his return to Philadelphia, in 1873, he entered private practice and from the outset engaged in teaching at his medical alma mater and in hospital work. He was chief clinical assistant at Jefferson to Dr. Jacob M. Da Costa, and in 189I was elected professor of medicine and clinical medicine in Jefferson Medical College, which position he held until 1911, when he retired with the title of professor emeritus. In 1889 he was elected physician to the German (now the Lankenau) Hospital, becoming physician-in-chief in 1897, and retiring as emeritus chief of the medical department in 1924. In 1895 he was elected physician to the Pennsylvania Hospital from which position he resigned in 1911. In addition to these positions Dr. Wilson was consulting physician to many other hospitals and medical institutions. He was a frequent contributor to current medical literature and the author of a number of authoritative medical books, among which should be mentioned, "Summer and Its Diseases" (1879), "A Treatise on Continued Fevers" (1881), "Manual of Fever Nursing" (1887)," A Handbook of Medical Diagnosis" (1909). The last two went through a number of editions. In 1896 he edited a composite work, the "American Text-Book of Applied Therapeutics." The esteem in which Dr. Wilson was held by his professional colleagues is witnessed by the following list of societies of which he was elected president at one time or another: The Philadelphia Pathological Society (1885-1886) The Philadelphia County Medical Society (1895-1896) American Academy of Medicine (1897) Association of American Physicians (1902) American Climatological Association (1904) American Therapeutic Society (1909) College of Physicians of Philadelphia (1913-1916) The Medical Library Association (1913) He was elected a member of the American Philosophical Society in 1885. The above details serve to illustrate the professional standing of Dr. Wilson. His wide experience, keen powers of observation and accuracy of judgment made his services as a consultant invaluable. Aside from his professional attainments he was a man of much culture, a great reader and deep thinker. His kindly disposition rendered him greatly beloved. To younger physicians he was always friendly and helpful. For some years before his death Dr. Wilson's health had been greatly impaired and he had retired from all professional labors. He died on October 28, 1934, in his eighty-eighth year.

[Taken from Packard, Francis R., "James Cornelius Wilson," Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, Vol. 75, No. 4 (1935): 331-333.]


.2 Linear feet (1 BOX)

Language of Materials


Custodial History

The Wilson family papers were donated to the Historical Collections of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia as part of a larger gift of manuscript and printed material by Dorothy Kleinman on 9 June 1993.

The collection was processed and catalogued in 1993. During the course of processing, several manuscript poems of J. C. Wilson's daughter, Beatrice Adele Wilson, were discarded along with miscellaneous clippings collected by Miss Wilson.
Wilson family papers
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

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