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Joseph Wilson diary

Identifier: MSS 2/064

Scope and Contents

Volume documenting Joseph Wilson’s voyage on U.S.S. Vandalia from Portsmouth, N.H., to Marquesas with abstract of log of entire voyage, 18571859; includes manuscript on naval hygiene, 1860; and fragmentary diary of voyage on U.S.S. Powhatan from Philadelphia to Mobile, Ala., 18601861. Diary from Vandalia (pp. 195) describes Wilson’s arrival in Portsmouth, N.H., on 2 Nov. 1857, embarkation on 1 Dec., then voyage south to Rio de Janeiro, through Straits of Magellan, north to Lima and Panama, and finally east to Nukahiva in Marquesas where Vandalia was diverted to rescue shipwrecked mariners on Oeno. Wilson recounts wreck of ship, "Wild Wave". Abstract of Vandalia’s log (pp. 329353) contains daily latitude and longitude and temperature readings from 22 Dec. 1857 to voyage’s end on 29 Dec. 1859. Bulk of volume (pp. 2322) contains manuscript of Wilson’s "Naval hygiene" (published 1870), composed during August and September 1860 while aboard U.S.S. Powhatan. Manuscript contains text of chapters 113 (roughly half of published volume), and concerns bilgewater and pumps, ship construction, paint, tar and pitch, interior layout, resuscitation of a man overboard, seasickness, moral and social influences of sailors, clothes, food, drink, purification of water, and alcoholic beverages. Marginal notes in text (pp. 198328) appear to be Wilson’s diary from U.S.S. Powhatan, embarking from Philadelphia on 31 Aug. 1860 and sailing to Mobile, Ala., and Mississippi, 29 May 1861. Several entries in shorthand. Wilson used Powhatan voyage as basis for "Naval hygiene."


  • 1857 - 1861


Biographical / Historical

Joseph Wilson, naval surgeon, was born in Holmesburg, Philadelphia, on 5 Jan. 1816. He was the son of physician Joseph Wilson. Wilson received his M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1837. He married Elizabeth Love in 1850. Joseph Wilson died in Philadelphia on 1 or 7 Mar. 1887. From 1837 to 1838, Wilson was an Acting Demonstrator of Anatomy at the University of Pennsylvania. He practiced medicine in Holmesburg until 1842, when he was appointed Assistant Surgeon in the U.S. Navy, awaiting orders until 1843. From 1843 to 1847, he served on vessels in the Pacific Coast Squadron. From 1853 to 1855, he was attached to Perry’s Japan Expedition. He then served in the Navy Yard at Philadelphia (18551857). In 1857, he was commissioned as a Surgeon in the Navy and ordered to the Pacific Coast Station aboard the "Vandalia". In 1860, he was ordered to the Gulf of Mexico aboard the "Powhatan". From 1861 to 1863, Wilson was on the "Michigan" on Lake Michigan, then from 1863 to 1865 on the "Vanderbilt" along the Atlantic Coast. Wilson was appointed Fleet Surgeon to the South Atlantic Squadron circa 1868. From 1871 to 1875, he was Medical Director of the Naval Hospital at Chelsea, Mass. He retired in 1878 as Medical Director holding the rank of Captain.


1 volume

Language of Materials