Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
George and José Bill Papers, 1888-1947

Finding aid created by
Richard Bates, Erin Platte and Meg Hixon, December 2011

Summary Information
Title: George and José Bill papers
Creator: Bill, José Penteado, b. 1884
Inclusive dates: 1888-1947
Extent: 1 linear foot
Abstract:
The George and José Bill papers contain essays, lectures, notes, prescriptions, and correspondence related to the medical practices of George Bill and his son, José Penteado Bill, of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Much of the material relates to unconventional medical practices and to topics in metaphysics. The collection also holds a series of astrological charts and notes.
Language: The material is in English
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site: www.clements.umich.edu


Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

1996. M-3262.1.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.

Copyright:

Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information:

Cataloging funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). This collection has been processed according to minimal processing procedures and may be revised, expanded, or updated in the future.

Preferred Citation:

George and José Bill Papers, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


Arrangement

The collection is arranged in the following series:

  • Series I: Correspondence and Documents
  • Series II: Essays, Lectures, Notes, and Speeches
    • Subseries I: Miss Doubleday Gynecology Notes
    • Subseries II: Lectures on Metaphysics
    • Subseries III: Notes on Astrology
    • Subseries IV: Additional notes, lectures, and speeches
  • Series III: Retained Copies of Prescriptions
  • Series IV: José Penteado Bill Papers
    • Subseries I: Diaries
    • Subseries II: Notes and Notebooks
  • Series V: Printed Items
  • Series VI: Poems and Blank Stationery

Each series is arranged chronologically, with undated items placed at the end.


Biography

George Edwin Bill was born in Maine in February 1855, received his B. A. from Tufts University in 1877, and graduated from Harvard Medical School in 1880. Following his graduation, he began a medical practice in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where he took interest in unconventional medical practices, astrology, and metaphysics, though he specialized in gynecology. He and his wife Sarah had a son, José Penteado Bill (b. December 1884). José attended Harvard Medical School and eventually practiced near Boston, Massachusetts.


Collection Scope and Content Note

The George and José Bill papers contain essays, lectures, notes, prescriptions, and correspondence related to the medical practices of George Bill and his son José Penteado Bill, of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The Correspondence and Documents series holds material related to George E. Bill's medical practice, including several letters written to his son during the 1920s. In one letter, he encouraged his son to avoid surgery for his granddaughter Audrey, and instead offered a dietary cure (February 1, 1922); in other letters, he discussed a "rhythometer" and the use of electricity as a medical cure.

The Essays, Lectures, Notes, and Speeches series is divided into several subseries. An unknown author compiled the Miss Doubleday gynecology notes while attending a lecture by Miss Doubleday; the notes include diagrams.

The Lectures on metaphysics consist of 13 lectures delivered by George Bill between November 2 and December 16, 1912, predicated upon a Law of Correspondence, "a General Law underlying the behavior of all Matter and the Spirit of Matter" (November 7, 1912). He mentioned magnetism, toxins thought to affect thoughts, and the polarity between elements of life (light, heat, and electricity) and death (darkness, cold, and magnetism), between which existence resides (November 6, 1912).

A series of Astrology charts and notes contains several charts copied from the work of Karl Anderson, as well as manuscript essays and projections.

Additional Essays, Lectures, Notes and Speeches concentrate primarily on medical topics, and most often concern pseudo-scientific conjectures and treatments outside the realm of conventional medicine. The series contains published articles as well as typed and manuscript drafts; some topics are hypnotism, the medical uses of electrical current, the human subconscious and its role in medicine, infrared therapy, and mental toxins and antitoxins.

A large number of Retained copies of prescriptions showcase a variety of medical treatments ordered by the Bills throughout the late-19th and early-20th century, including both conventional and homeopathic treatments.

The José Penteado Bill papers contain an assortment of material, including, but not limited to, scientific and medical notes, as well as a printed roster of the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association (July 1947). Other items are a traveling journal compiled in 1917 and a document giving Bill's grades from his second year of study at Harvard Medical School (1912). The Diaries subseries includes a partially-filled diary of José P. Bill from 1910, as well as a 1924 diary chronicling medical appointments; the latter was obtained in France and contains supplemental information in French. The Notes and notebooks subseries contains notes on José Penteado's engagements, patients, and prescriptions. Also included is a prescription notebook and pad.

The Printed Items series holds seven items. These are Keeley's Secrets, a publication on theosophy written by Mrs. Bloomfield Moore, with manuscript annotations (July 10, 1888); two medical journals; a scientific article; a pamphlet entitled "The Policy and Purpose of the Harrisburg Republican Club" (1902); a portion of an examination given to doctors at Clark University about "Diseases and Cures in Childhood" (December 1896); and a card on medicines, poisons, and antidotes. George Bill wrote the article, "The Relation of Hypnotism to the Subconscious Mind" (New York Medical Journal, May 1, 1897), an article entitled "Some Considerations Relative to the Therapeutic Application of the Electrical Current" (New York Medical Journal, November 13, 1897), and "The Conductivity of Human Radio-Activity" (Journal of the Allied Medical Associations of America, August 1919).

The Poems and Blank Stationery series contains pieces of blank stationery from Dr. George E. Bill's office in Harrisburg, PA, as well as two poems.

Subject Terms

    Subjects:
    • Alternative medicine.
    • Astrology.
    • Electrotherapeutics.
    • Gynecology.
    • Harrisburg (Pa.)
    • Homeopathy.
    • Hypnotism.
    • Lectures and lecturing.
    • Medicine and psychology.
    • Medicine--Formulae, receipts, prescriptions.
    • Medicine--Pennsylvania.
    • Medicine--Practice--Pennsylvania.
    • Medicine--United States--History--19th century.
    • Metaphysics--History.
    • Physicians--Pennsylvania.
    Contributors:
    • Bill, George Edwin, b. 1855.
    Genre Terms:
    • Diaries.
    • Essays.
    • Letters (correspondence)
    • Notes.
    • Prescriptions.
    • Speeches.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
     
    Correspondence and Documents [series]
    Box   1 Folder   1
     22 April 1897-12 April 1924
    Box   1 Folder   2
     7 June 1930-20 June 1931
     
    Essays, Lectures Notes, and Speeches [series]
     
    Miss Doubleday Gynecology Notes [subseries]
    Box   1 Folders   3-5
     1895
     
    Lectures on Metaphysics [subseries]
    Box   1 Folder   6
     2 November 1912-[before 29 November 1912]
    Box   1 Folder   7
     29 November 1912-16 December 1912
     
    Notes on Astrology [subseries]
    Box   1 Folders   8-13
     Undated
     
    Additional Essays, Lectures, Notes, and Speeches [subseries]
    Box   1 Folder   14
     25 September 1896-21 September 1897
    Box   1 Folder   15
     30 November 1897-4 November 1898
    Box   1 Folder   16
     27 March 1911-28 March 1923
    Box   1 Folder   17
     15 April 1923-14 September 1923
    Box   1 Folders   18-26
     Undated
     
    Retained Copies of Prescriptions [series]
    Box   2 Folder   1
     1905-1917
    Box   2 Folder   2
     [1910s]
    Box   2 Folder   3
     [1910s-1920s]
    Box   2 Folder   4
     1918-[1920s]
    Box   2 Folder   5
     1924-1925
    Box   2 Folder   6
     [1920s-1930s]
    Box   2 Folder   7
     1931
    Box   2 Folders   8-9
    Blank notebooks,  undated
     
    José Penteado Bill Papers [series]
     
    Diaries [subseries]
    Box   2 Folder   10
     1910 and  undated
     
    Notes and Notebooks [subseries]
    Box   2 Folder   11
     1924,  1949, and  undated
    Box   2 Folder   12
     [1940s]
    Box   2 Folder   13
     [1951-1953]
     
    Printed Items [series]
    Box   2 Folder   14
     10 July 1888
    Box   2 Folder   15
     December 1896-August 1919
     
    Poems and Blank Stationery [series]
    Box   2 Folder   16
     Undated