Benajah Ticknor papers: 1818-1852
Summary Information
Title: Benajah Ticknor papers
Creator: Ticknor, Benajah, 1788-1858
Dates: 1818-1852
Extent: 3 linear feet, 3 microfilms
Graduated from Berkshire Medical Institute ca. 1810; joined U.S. Navy ca. 1816; first tour of duty in 1818; retired from the Navy in 1852 from post of chief Surgeon of the Boston Navy Yard. Journals, letter book, medical notes, correspondence, and essays of Benajah Ticknor, doctor and surgeon with the U.S. Navy. Of primary importance are the journals which describe journeys made by Ticknor with the Navy to South America, the Far East, and Europe.
Call number: 8986 Aa 2
Language: The material is in English
Repository: Bentley Historical Library
1150 Beal Ave.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2113
Phone: 734-764-3482
Fax: 734-936-1333
Home Page:
Finding aid created by Michigan Historical Collections staff

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

The collection consists largely of records collected from other archival institutions

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open to research.

To protect fragile audiovisual recordings (such as audio cassettes, film reels, and VHS tapes), the Bentley Historical Library has a policy of converting them to digital formats by a professional vendor whenever a researcher requests access. For more information, please see:


Copyright is not held by the Regents of the University of Michigan. Patrons are responsible for determining the appropriate use or reuse of materials.

Preferred Citation:

[item], folder, box, Benajah Ticknor papers, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan


Benajah Ticknor was born in Salisbury, Connecticut in 1788. After receiving his medical degree from the Berkshire Medical Institute, ca. 1810, he moved to Ohio and married. He applied for service with the U.S. Navy as a surgeon and received his first assignment in 1818 as a surgeon's mate. His voyage was to South America, a three-year cruise. In the 1820s, he served in the West Indies, and later off the coast of Brazil and Argentina. In 1831, he was assigned as surgeon as part of a secret diplomatic mission to Cochin China, Siam, and Muscat. This voyage was the first attempt by the American government to establish diplomatic relations with nations of the Far East.

In 1834, Ticknor, with thoughts of retiring from the Navy, purchased property in Pittsfield Township, close by the village of Ann Arbor. Ticknor did not retire at this time. Instead he accepted position as commander of the hospital at the Boston Navy Yard. In 1837, he was appointed fleet surgeon for a survey mission to the Antarctic Ocean. And in 1845, he was fleet surgeon on another diplomatic mission to the Far East. He moved permanently to Ann Arbor in 1851, having built a cobblestone house on his Michigan property some years before. He died September 20, 1858.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The Ticknor collection consists of photocopied and microfilmed papers from various institutions with Ticknor materials. The materials were gathered together by individuals involved in the restoration of Ticknor's Ann Arbor home, now known as Cobblestone Farm. The collection, subsequently donated to the Bentley Historical Library, includes Biographical material, journals, a letter book, writings, letters to his friend Congressman Elisha Whittlesey in Ohio, and State Department records from his diplomatic missions to the Far East.

Subject Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in the finding aid database and catalog of The Bentley Historical Library/University of Michigan. Researchers desiring additional information about related topics should search the catalog using these headings.

  • Homicide.
  • Medicine, Naval.
  • Medicine -- History.
  • Medicine -- United States.
  • Religious thought -- 19th century.
  • Suicide -- United States.
  • Voyages and travels.
  • Shipping.
  • Ann Arbor (Mich.)
  • East Asia -- Description and travel.
  • Europe -- Description and travel.
  • Peru -- History -- War of Independence, 1820-1829.
  • South America -- Description and travel.
  • United States -- Economic conditions.
  • United States -- History -- 1783-1865.
  • United States -- Religion.
  • United States -- Social conditions.
  • New England.
  • United States -- Description and travel.
  • Arctic regions.
  • Latin America.
  • Asia.
  • United States -- Foreign relations.
  • Physicians -- United States.
  • Mexican War, 1846-1848.
  • Diaries.
  • Adams, John Quincy, 1767-1848.
  • Armstrong, James, 1794-1868.
  • Bartlett, W. H. (William Henry), 1809-1854.
  • Biddle, James, 1783-1848.
  • Buchanan, James, 1791-1868.
  • Burchard, Samuel D., 1812-1891.
  • Calhoun, John C. (John Caldwell), 1782-1850.
  • Carrera Verdugo, José Miguel, 1785-1821.
  • Dundonald, Thomas Cochrane, Earl of, 1775-1860.
  • Dewey, Orville, 1794-1882.
  • Downes, John, 1784-1854.
  • Everett, Alexander Hill, 1790-1847.
  • Everett, Edward, 1794-1865.
  • Foltz, Jonathan Messersmith, 1810-1877.
  • Forbes, R. B. (Robert Bennet), 1804-1889.
  • Frémont, John Charles, 1813-1890.
  • Gansevoort, Guert, 1812-1867.
  • Geisinger, David, 1790-1860.
  • Glynn, John, 1801-1871.
  • Hardy, Thomas Masterman, Sir, 1st bart., 1769-1839.
  • Harrison, William Henry, 1773-1841.
  • Hill, Frances M., 1807-1884.
  • Hull, Isaac, 1773-1843.
  • Jarvis, James Jackson, 1818-1888.
  • Jones, Thomas Ap Catesby, 1790-1858.
  • Kearny, Stephen Watts, 1794-1848.
  • Kent, James, 1763-1847.
  • Madison, Dolley, 1768-1849.
  • Mason, John Young, 1799-1859.
  • Morrison, Charles, 1782-1834.
  • Niles, John M. (John Milton), 1787-1856.
  • O'Higgins, Bernardo, 1778-1842.
  • Paulding, James K., 1779-1860.
  • Perry, Matthew Calbraith, 1794-1858.
  • Pickens, F. W. (Francis Wilkinson), 1805-1869.
  • Polk, Sarah Childress, 1803-1891.
  • Roberts, Edmund, 1784-1836.
  • Rodgers, George Washington, 1787-1832.
  • San Martín, José de, 1778-1850.
  • Schroeder, John Frederick, 1800-1857.
  • Shubrick, William Branford, 1790-1874.
  • Southard, Samuel L. (Samuel Lewis), 1787-1842.
  • Stockton, Robert Field, 1795-1866.
  • Tappan, Benjamin, 1773-1857.
  • Taylor, John, 1781-1864.
  • Taylor, Zachary, 1784-1850.
  • Tazewell, Littleton Waller, 1774-1860.
  • Ticknor, Benajah, 1788-1858.
  • Ticknor, George, 1791-1871.
  • Tyler, John, 1790-1862.
  • Webster, Daniel, 1782-1852.
  • Weddell, James, 1787-1834.
  • Wise, Henry A. (Henry Alexander), 1806-1876.
  • Ticknor, Benajah, 1788-1858.
  • United States. Navy.
  • Columbus (Ship)
  • Macedonian (Ship)
  • Episcopal Church.
  • Peacock (Ship)
  • Ohio (Ship)
  • United States Exploring Expedition (1838-1842)
  • Hodges, Nan Powell.
Contents List
Request materials for use in the Bentley Library
Container / Location Title
Biographical sketch [series]
Box   1  
"Dr. Benajah Ticknor U.S. Naval Surgeon" by Nan Hodges 1982
Box   1  
Text of lecture by Nan Hodges entitled "Dr. Benajah Ticknor, Witness to America's First Attempt to Open Japan, July 1846" 1984
Journals [series] (photocopies of microfilm; originals in the Yale University Library)
Box   1  
Journal I 1818-1821
Journal II 1831-1833
Box   1  
Journal II A
Box   1  
Journal II B
Box   1  
Journal II C
Box   1  
Journal II (revised version of Journal II, A & B
Box   1  
Journal III 1837
Box   1  
Journal IV 1838-1842 (2 folders)
Box   1  
Journal V 1845-1848
Box   1  
Journal VI 1848-1850
Box   2  
Journal VII 1851-1852
Letter book [series] (photocopies of microfilm; originals in the Yale University Library)
Box   2  
Index to official letters, reports May 21, 1844-April 1854
Box   2  
Letter book 1844-1854
Writings [series] (photocopies of microfilm; originals in the Yale University Library)
Box   2  
Diseases, an incomplete essay on diseases; also Education, an incomplete essay on education
Box   2  
Mammon Punished
Box   2  
Medical Symptoms and Cook's History of the Reformation
Box   2  
Murders, Suicides, Executions, list of
Box   2  
Naval discipline, incomplete remarks on
Box   2  
Observations on Physiology and Pathology (Cures)
Box   2  
Quotations on Music, Woman, Luxury, etc.
Box   2  
Religious Establishments
Box   2  
Self-Indulgence, incomplete essay on
Box   2  
State of Religion in the United States
Box   2  
U.S.S. Peacock: General Health Report
Letters from Benajah Ticknor [series] (photocopies; originals in the Elisha Whittlesey papers, Western Reserve University)
Box   2  
Letters , from Ticknor to Elisha Whittlesey, a member of U.S. Congress from Ohio 1819-1862
U.S. Dept. of State / U.S. Ministry to China records [series] (microfilm, positive; originals in the National Archives)
Box   2 Roll   1
Records of Dept. of State, Special Agents February 1832-May 1837

(NARA id no. RG 37-10)

Box   2 Roll   2
Despatches from U.S. Ministry to China April 1845-June 1847

(NARA id no. 92-4)

Box   2 Roll   3
Despatches from U.S. Ministry to China April 1845-June 1847

(NARA id no. 92-4)

Typescript of Journals [series]

(prepared by Nan Hodges)

Box   2  
Journal I (1 folder)
Box   3  
Journals II and V (4 folders)
Miscellaneous [series]
Box   3  
Abstract of title to Pittsfield Township property