The Isaiah L. Alden diary contains the reflections of a medical student and doctor in Michigan and Maine from 1867-1869. Alden provided detailed, near-daily accounts of his studies at the University of Michigan and at Bowdoin College, and described his work at the U. S. Marine Hospital in Portland, Maine.
Alden commenced the diary on December 1, 1867, while he was studying medicine at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan. In his early entries, he reflected on his life as a student, and often included descriptions of lectures given by several professors at the university, as well as accounts of medical cases he saw at various clinics. He also made note of various religious meetings he attended during this time, particularly at Ann Arbor's Methodist church. Alden left Ann Arbor for his native Maine in March 1868, and began working at the U. S. Marine Hospital in Portland, Maine, shortly after his arrival in April. He continued to describe his medical work during the period, as well as a lengthy vacation he took in the summer of that year. Upon his return, he experienced chronic discomfort caused by the complications of tuberculosis, and he tried to obtain a life insurance policy in late September, but was rejected. He left the hospital, and resumed his medical education in mid-February 1869. The remainder of the diary contains accounts of his time at the Medical School of Maine (now the School of Medicine at Bowdoin College), including notes about various professors, lectures, and examinations, and about his deteriorating health. The volume's final entry is dated May 11, 1869.