David Holmes papers  1845-1856
full text File Size: 9 K bytes | Add this to my bookbag

Collection Scope and Content Note

The David Holmes papers contain 10 letters written by Holmes to church members, primarily Nichols and Wetmore in Lebanon, and 2 letters written by his wife, Betsy Holmes, to Nichols and Calhoun, pastors at the Lebanon church. Nine letters were written by Nichols to Holmes regarding his trial by the church committee. The collection also includes two letters were written by Manning, the instigator of the case, one letter was written by the church committee to Holmes and a copy of Holmes' Medical Herald. The bulk of the correspondence is concentrated in 1845-1847.

There are two main areas of interest in the Holmes papers. First, the letters between Holmes and members of the church illustrate church discipline and the relationship of the church with its members. An individual brought initial charges against Holmes to the church for justice. The church had the authority to charge and try individuals. Nichols tells Holmes that he can appeal the outcome of his case to the New London county council. The prominence of the church in public and private life is apparent in this collection.

The second area of interest in the collection relates to medical practice. The charges against Holmes are finally revealed as malpractice. The malpractice charges are sustained by the church, but no disciplinary action resulted other than suspension. "I think it much cheaper and easier to live down suspicion and prejudice than to quarrel about the matter" Holmes wrote to Wetmore. Holmes wrote a compelling article about pharmacists who dispense medicine carelessly in his newsletter dated nine years after the case with the church was settled: "Most druggists have fallen into the foolish and dangerous practice of preparing different qualities of the same medicine to suit the taste of their customers, the consequence is that no reliance can be placed in their preparations."

While this collection is small, the case against Holmes is fully documented, providing information about church discipline and medical practice in the 1840s.

Show all series level scope and content notes