Special Collections in the History of Medicine
Elmer Family Papers
[ca. 1794] - 1843, w/gaps
Jonathan Elmer (1745-1817), born in Cedarville, New Jersey, studied medicine in Philadelphia under Dr. John Morgan, founder of the first American medical school that became part of the University of Pennsylvania. Elmer was one of ten who received the degree of bachelor of medicine from this institution's first graduating class of 1768. He obtained his medical degree in 1771. In 1772 he was elected a member of the American Philosophical Society and of the New Jersey Medical Society whose president he became in 1787. Dr. Benjamin Rush is quoted as saying that "in medical knowledge he was exceeded by no physician in the United States" (Trenton Federalist , Sept 1817).
In addition to the practice of medicine in Roadstown and Bridgeton, New Jersey between 1768 and 1817, Dr. Elmer was actively involved in political and civic affairs, serving his country with distinction. He was a delegate to the Provincial Congress (1775); member of the Continental Congress (1776-78, 1781-84, 1787, 1788); Legislative Council of New Jersey (1780, 1784); and U.S. Senator (1789-91). Dr. Elmer was trustee of the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University, 1782-95), and, at various times, clerk, surrogate, judge and sheriff of Cumberland County.
Dr. Elmer was the first New Jerseyan to receive a M.D. from an American medical school. As a member of Congress during the Revolutionary War, he served on the medical committee and investigated military hospitals. Dr. Elmer was instrumental in 1790 of procuring from the state legislature legal recognition of the Medical Society New Jersey.
William Elmer (1788-1836)was the youngest son of Dr. Jonathan Elmer. William received his medical degree in 1811 from the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Elmer established a short-lived practice in Bridgeton, New Jersey, where he was born. Upon the death of his father, Dr. Elmer inherited a large estate and, in 1822, retired from practice. He turned his attentions to agricultural pursuits. Both aspects of his life are reflected in his Ledger Book of Medical Practice.
Dr. William Elmer II (1814-1889)received his medical degree in 1836 from the University of Pennsylvania.
Provenance: Gift of the Saffron Book Endowment.
Scope and Content Note
The Elmer Family Papers are miscellaneous handwritten papers created by Drs. Jonathan and William Elmer. The small group of papers includes Dr. Jonathan Elmer's writings entitled "Miscellanii," and Dr. William Elmer's ledger book containing medical and farming accounts. The bound, undated (ca. 1794) "Miscellanii" contains Dr. J. Elmer's medical lectures (or medical notes?), and historical, political, and religious writings. Dr. W. Elmer's ledger book contains medical accounts (1811-17), farming daybook entries (1818-20), and a medical practice account of his son, William II (1837-43). The collection includes two miscellaneous items: Dr. William Elmer's admittance ticket to Dr. Benjamin S. Barton's 1809 Materia Medica lectures at the University of Pennsylvania, and an 1806 Article of Agreement for a medical partnership between Dr. Samuel Moore Shute (1762-1816) and Dr. Charles Hood (1783-1806).
Jonathan Elmer, MD. "Miscellanii," ca. 1794.Dr. Elmer divided his collection of writings entitled "Miscellanii" into the following eight headings:
1. Syllabus of Lectures on the practice of Physic, 78 pp
|2||William Elmer, MD. Articles of Agreement for a medical Partnership between Dr. Samuel Moon Shute & Dr. Charles Hood, Bridgeton, NJ, March 10, 1806; witnessed by WilliamElmer.|
|3||William Elmer, MD. University of Pennsylvania. Admittance Ticket to Materia Medica lectures by Dr. BS Barton, 1809.|
|4||William Elmer, MD. Ledger Book of Medical Practice,Bridgeton, NJ, 1811-17, also containing farming daybook accounts, 1818-20, and medical practice account of Dr. William Elmer II, 1837-43.|
Lois R. Densky-Wolff
February 18, 2000
Page Revised: 3/1/01
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