Clarke Historical Library
Central Michigan University

Finding aid for
Dr. Thomas Blackwood Family Papers

Finding aid created by
Marian Matyn

Summary Information
Title: Dr. Thomas Blackwood Family Papers,
Creator: Blackwood, Thomas, Dr., circa 1800-
Inclusive dates: 1826-1971, and undated
Extent: 1.25 cubic feet (in 3 boxes)
The papers include family correspondence, journals, notebooks, a photograph, and miscellaneous, mostly concerning Dr. Blackwood's medical career and gold mining experiences in California during the Gold Rush of 1849.

Call number: MSS.
Language: The material is in English
Repository: Clarke Historical Library, Central Michigan University
250 East Preston Street
Mount Pleasant, MI 48859
Phone: 989-774-3352
Fax: 989-774-2160

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

no Acc#

Access Restrictions:

Dr. Thomas Blackwood Family Papers are open for research.


Copyright is unknown.

Preferred Citation:

Dr. Thomas Blackwood Family Papers, Folder # , Box #, Clarke Historical Library, Central Michigan University


Arrangement is alphabetical and then chronological.



Dr. Thomas Blackwood (circa 1800- ) was a physician in Ann Arbor and later, Ypsilanti, Michigan. Until 1845 he practiced traditional medicine. In 1845 he began practicing homeopathic medicine. Blackwood was quite successful at it and in 1847 added a partner, Dr. Isaac N. Eldridge.

In 1849 Blackwood was hit with Gold Fever. He purchased passage on the Loo Choo, a sailing vessel, and left New York City on March 8, 1849. After an arduous voyage, he arrived in San Francisco on September 15, 1849. Blackwood began prospecting on the Tulumne River. With others, he worked on building an expensive dam by which they hoped to find a lot of gold. However, the rainy season came early and destroyed the dam in December, ruining his chances for success and his finances. He then left for San Francisco where he met friends from the Loo Choo. With loans from these friends, Blackwood returned to the Tulumne River. There he apparently was unsuccessful because he returned to Ann Arbor and his practice by the autumn of 1850. At some time afterwards, Blackwood left for California via the overland route with his wife, Jane Osburn Blackwood, two sons, and two daughters. He then set up practice in Sacramento, dying shortly afterwards of malignant fever. His family then returned home to Ann Arbor.

Some of Blackwood’s letters to his wife about his travels to and experiences in California were published in the Washtenaw Whig in 1849 and 1850, as was part of his journal from his voyage on the Loo Choo.

(This information from Letters home: the story of Ann Arbor’s Forty-niners by Russell F. Bidlack in the Clarke Historical Library. Photocopies of relevant information in this book have been added to the Family History folder in the collection.)

Collection Scope and Content Note

The Papers include personal correspondence, mainly between Dr. and Mrs. Jane Blackwood, describing journeys to California and Nevada, the uprising of Negroes (June 16, 1827), and a cholera epidemic (from Jane Blackwood, 1849). There is a diary of Mrs. Blackwood, and her notes on mathematical calculation, kept while living in Ovid (New York), 1827. Dr. Thomas Blackwood is also documented by a medical notes book, 1827-1832, including the diagnosis and treatment of his patients, receipts, payments, and births, August 1832-September 1833; his certificate of entrance to the Washtenaw Medical Society, June 1832; and his travel journal, 1850, while aboard the Loo Choo. Lastly, there is a copy of his first letter published in the Washtenaw Whig, September 12, 1849.

Subject Terms

    • Blackwood, Thomas, Dr., circa 1800-
    • Blackwood, Jane Osburn.
    • Blackwood family.
    • Slave insurrections--United States.
    • Physicians--Michigan--Ann Arbor.
    • Cholera--United States.
    • California--Gold discoveries.
    • Ann Arbor (Mich.)--History.
    Contents List
       Container / Location    Title
    Dr. Thomas Blackwood Family Papers. [series]:
    Box   1 F   1
    Family History, 1971
    Box   1 F   2
    Partial Calendar of Correspondence (transcriptions), 1826-1848
    Box   1 F   3
    Transcribed Correspondence, 1826-1838
    Box   1 F   4
    Transcribed Correspondence, 1840-1848
    Box   1 F   5
    Correspondence, Court Testimony, etc., Originals, 1847
    Box   1 F   6
    Correspondence, Court Testimony, etc., Typescripts, 1847
    Box   1 F   7
    Correspondence, 1826-1846
    Box   1 F   8
    Correspondence, Originals, 1848
    Box   1 F   9
    Correspondence, Typescripts, 1848
    Box   1 F   10
    Correspondence published in the Ann Arbor, Michigan, Washtenaw Whig, September 12, 1849
    Box   1 F   11
    Correspondence, Receipts, Etc., Originals, 1849
    Box   1 F   12
    Correspondence, Receipts, Etc., Typescripts and Written Summaries, 1849
    Box   1 F   13
    Correspondence, 1849-1850
    Box   1 F   14
    Correspondence, Originals, 1850
    Box   1 F   15
    Correspondence, Typescripts, 1850
    Box   1 F   16
    Correspondence, Originals, 1851
    Box   1 F   17
    Correspondence, Transcripts, 1851
    Box   2 F   1
    Correspondence, 1852
    Box   2 F   2
    Correspondence, 1853
    Box   2 F   3
    Correspondence, 1854
    Box   2 F   4
    Correspondence, 1855
    Box   2 F   5
    Correspondence, 1856
    Box   2 F   6
    Correspondence, 1857-1859
    Box   2 F   7
    Correspondence, 1860-1892 (Scattered)
    Box   2 F   8
    Diary of Jane Blackwood (copied for Dr. Franklin, 123 p.), Original, March 22-September 2, 1853
    Box   2 F   9
    Diary of Jane Blackwood (copied for Dr. Franklin, 123 p.), Copy, March 22-September 2, 1853
    Box   2 F   10
    Diary of Jane Blackwood (copied for Dr. Franklin, 123 p.), Transcription, May 8-September 2, 1853
    Box   2 F   11
    Journals, 1851
    Box   2 F   12
    Journals, 1852
    Box   2 F   13
    Medical Notes (incomplete), Originals, undated
    Box   2 F   14
    Medical Notes (incomplete), Copies, undated
    Box   3 F   1
    Blackwood, Jane Osburn, Math Notebook, 1823
    Box   3 F   2
    Blackwood, Dr. Thomas, Journal of a Voyage on the Loo Choo to California, March-May 1849, and Accounts, 1850, March-May 1849, 1850
    Box   3 F   3
    Blackwood, Dr. Thomas, Medical School Notebook, August 1832-September 1833, including the diagnosis and treatment of his patients, including receipts, payments, and births; and lecture cards and certificates, 1827-1832, 1827-1833
    Box   3 F   4
    Photograph, Blackwood House, undated
    Box   3 F   5
    Receipts, 1842-1894
    Box   3 F   6
    Speech, Essay, Poem, 1829, undated