Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
William and Isaac Perkins Papers, 1784-1794

Finding aid created by
Shannon Wait, April 2010

Summary Information
Title: William and Isaac Perkins papers
Creator: Perkins, Isaac, 1741-ca. 1795
Inclusive dates: 1784-1794
Extent: 0.5 linear feet
The William and Isaac Perkins papers contain correspondence written between brothers William Lee Perkins and Isaac Perkins, 1784-1794, concerning politics, their careers, and family news.
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:

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

1965. M-1350.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information:

Cataloging funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the "We the People" project.

Preferred Citation:

William and Isaac Perkins Papers, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


The letters are arranged chronologically.


William Lee Perkins was born on February 10, 1736, in Suffolk, Massachusetts, and his brother Isaac was born on September 4, 1741. They were the sons of physician John Perkins and his wife, Abigail Lee. Like his father, William studied medicine; in the 1760s, he was recognized for his work in Massachusetts fighting smallpox with inoculation. A Loyalist, he was exiled to Halifax, Nova Scotia, in 1776, and several years later returned to England, where he continued to practice medicine at Kingston upon Thames, and where he published several articles on medicine. He died in 1797. His brother Isaac, a deacon, remained in North America at Ashford, Connecticut.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The William and Isaac Perkins papers contain 18 letters written between brothers William Lee Perkins and Isaac Perkins, of Ashford, Connecticut, and Kingston upon Thames, England. Their correspondence, written from 1784 to1794, frequently touched on politics, including a fairly long account of Shays' Rebellion (January 25, 1787), mention of the Constitutional Convention (May 28, 1787), and speculation by William on the chances of a reunion between the United States and Great Britain (May 14, 1787).

Also present are comments on Loyalists, the national debt, and news concerning their families and careers. In his letter dated April 4, 1788, William Lee Perkins commented on his medical writing, including attempts at "arranging and distinguishing diseases, which I am contributing my poor Endeavours to introduce in this Country." He also gave medical advice in several letters.

Subject Terms

    • American loyalists.
    • Ashford (Conn.)
    • Kingston upon Thames (London, England)
    • Medicine--History.
    • Shays' Rebellion, 1786-1787.
    • United States. Constitutional Convention (1787)
    • United States--Politics and government--1783-1809.
    • Perkins, William Lee, 1736-1797.
    • Perkins, Isaac, b. 1741.
    Genre Terms:
    • Correspondence.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Box   46, Small Collections  
    William and Isaac Perkins papers [series]
    Folder   44  
     September 9, 1784-July 18, 1785
    Folder   45  
     July 30, 1786-January 25, 1787
    Folder   46  
     March 12, 1787-April 4, 1788
    Folder   47  
     July 3, 1788-April 1794
    Additional Descriptive Data
    Related Materials

    This collection was originally thought to be related to the Perkins family papers, but no connection between the two families has been found.