Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Willard Parker Papers, 1841-1877

Finding aid created by
C.A.S., January 1992

Summary Information
Title: Willard Parker papers
Creator: Parker, Willard, 1800-1884
Inclusive dates: 1841-1877
Bulk dates: 1861-1869
Extent: 29 items
Abstract:
This collection consists of case reports and the professional correspondence of Willard Parker, a successful surgeon in New York City in the late 19th century.
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:

1985. M-2200.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.

Copyright:

Copyright status is unknown.

Provenance:

These papers were separated from the Clarke family papers.

Preferred Citation:

Willard Parker Papers, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


Biography

Willard Parker, an eminent American surgeon, was born at Lyndeborough, N.H., on September 2, 1800, the son of Jonathan and Hannah (Clark) Parker. After receiving his A.B. from Harvard in 1826, Parker served an apprenticeship with two of America's greatest surgeons, John C. Warren and S. D. Townsend, in Boston, earning his medical degree in 1830. He held a series of faculty positions at various medical colleges for the next seven years before settling in New York City for what would prove to be his last job, professor of the principles and practice of surgery in the College of Physicians and Surgeons. Parker held this post until his retirement in 1880, the last ten years serving as professor emeritus.

According to the New York Times, Parker was an unusually skilled surgeon. He was said to be ambidextrous and able to perform surgery equally with either hand. Among his other accomplishments, in 1867 he became the first American to remove a ruptured appendix successfully, and he was the author of several monographs on cancer, including a volume of case histories of breast cancer that was published posthumously in 1885. In addition to building an extensive surgical practice in New York City, Parker served as consulting physician to five urban hospitals during his teaching career. Further, he was extremely active in the associations of the profession, and served as an organizer of the New York Pathological Society, the Society for Widows and Orphans of Medical Men, the New York City Board of Health, and the New York Academy of Medicine, of which he was President in 1856.

Willard Parker was married twice: first, on June 21, 1831, to Caroline Sarah Allen, daughter of Dr. Luther Allen of Stirling, Mass.; second, on May 25, 1844, to Mary Ann (Bissell) Coit, daughter of Josiah and Henrietta (Perkins) Bissell. He had two children by the first marriage and three by the second. One of his sons from the second marriage, Willard Parker Jr., followed his father into medical practice, and a daughter, Mrs. Lindley (d.1870), became a missionary.

Willard Parker died at his home at 41 E. 12th Street in New York City on April 25, 1884. He is buried in New Canaan, Conn., where he owned a farm for many years.


Collection Scope and Content Note

The bulk of the Willard Parker papers concern his activity as a consultant. The collection has been divided into two parts: Case Reports and Correspondence. The Case Reports document surgical practice, and include some postmortem reports (1855 November 20; 1857 December 23; 1864 March 14). The Correspondence Series is comprised of letters from patients describing their cases and letters from colleagues requesting Parker's professional opinion. The most interesting item in the latter category is a letter from Dr. Sylvester Willard of Albany (1855 November 21) describing the final hours of a distinguished colleague, T. Romeyn Beck, the American expert on medical jurisprudence. The cause of Beck's death was apparently a mystery, and Willard asks for Parker's thoughts on the matter, since Parker had been involved in the case of Beck's younger brother some years before.

The saddest and most personal letter is one from a Mrs. Ludlow, a friend and perhaps distant relative of Parker's, who writes concerning the death of her daughter Minnie (1875 April 2) asking: "Do you think each individual's health is ordered by God, or that we are free agents, or that death often occurs from errors of judgment, etc.?" Parker had intended a career in the ministry before his conversion to medicine as a Harvard freshman.

Subject Terms

    Subjects:
    • Surgery.
    • Therapeutics.
    Genre Terms:
    • Medical records.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Box   : American Science and Medicine Collection  
    Willard Parker papers,  1841-1877 [series]
    Additional Descriptive Data
    Related Materials

    These papers were separated from the Clarke family papers.

    Partial Subject Index
    Abdominal neoplasms
    • 1859, (Paxson, E.)
    Abscess--bone diseases
    • 1857 October 17, (Unidentified)
    Actaea
    • 1861 April 4, (Daggett, D. L.)
    Alcohol
    • 1859, (Paxson, E.)
    Alves
    • 1861 April 4, (Daggett, D. L.)
    Aqua ammonia
    • 1871 October 4, (Gallup, Emily)
    Asclepias tuberosa
    • 1861 April 4, (Daggett, D. L.)
    Autopsy
    • 1855 November 20, (Willard, Sylvester)
    • 1857 December 23, (Fisher, G. J.)
    • 1862 April
    Bacon, Dr. F.
    • 1873 November 8, (Collins, E. E.)
    Bandaging
    • 1862 April 15, (Grafton, John)
    Beck, Theodric Romeyn, 1791-1855
    • 1855 November 20, (Willard, Sylvester)
    Becklee, Dr.
    • 1875 April 2, (Ludlow, Mrs)
    Bedford water
    • 1859, (Paxson, E.)
    Belcher, Dr.
    • 1857 December 23, (Fisher, G. J.)
    Belladonna
    • 1862 May 2, (Lyman, David)
    Bicycle
    • 1861 April 2, (McClellan, Mrs)
    Bladder calculi
    • 1877 April 21, (Tewskbury, L. H.)
    Bloodletting
    • 1841 May 16, (Parker, Willard)
    • 1859, (Paxson, E.)
    • 1862 April 15, (Grafton, John)
    Blue flag root
    • April 21, (Browning, Dr.)
    Bone diseases, developmental
    • 1862 May 2, (Lyman, David)
    Braces
    • 1875 April 2, (Ludlow, Mrs)
    Brandy
    • 1861 April 2, (McClellan, Mrs)
    Breast neoplasms
    • 1862 April 12, (McNaughton, P.)
    • 1866 May 24, (Unidentified)
    • 1866 December 24, (Sewell, James A.)
    Brown, Phineas
    • 1877 April 21, (Tewskbury, L. H.)
    Cannabis
    • April 21, (Browning, Dr)
    Cartilage diseases
    • 1862 August 22, (Gr..., P. D.)
    Castor oil
    • 1859, (Paxson, E.)
    • 1861 April 4, (Daggett, D. L.)
    Catherization
    • 1862 April 15, (Grafton, John)
    Cautery
    • 1858 February 11, (Suckley, George)
    Chalk, mercurial
    • 1862 May 2, (Lyman, David)
    Chloroform
    • 1857 December 23, (Fisher, G. J.)
    Clark, A.
    • 1877 January 11, (Parker, Willard et al.)
    Clark, Dr.
    • 1875 April 2, (Ludlow, Mrs)
    Cockburn, Mrs.
    • 1863 July 2, (Smith, H. Lyle)
    Collins, Charles
    • 1873 November 8, (Collins, E. E.)
    Consumption
    • 1873 November 8, (Collins, E. E.)
    Convulsions
    • 1862 May 2, (Lyman, David)
    Corset
    • 1862 June 3, (Paxson, E.)
    Cough mixture
    • 1861 April 4, (Daggett, D. L.)
    Cream of tartar
    • 1859, (Paxson, E.)
    Cummings, Mrs.
    • 1862 April 14, (Jackson, Alex)
    Daggett, Dr.
    • 1861 April 2, (McClellan, Mrs)
    Dandelion
    • 1859, (Paxson, E.)
    Digitalis
    • 1859, (Paxson, E.)
    Diuretics
    • 1862 April 15, (Grafton, John)
    • 1863 July 2, (Smith, H. Lyle)
    Draper, W.H.
    • 1877 January 11, (Parker, Willard et al.)
    Ecraseur
    • 1858 February 11, (Suckley, George)
    Eldridge, Dr.
    • 1861 April 2, (McClellan, Mrs)
    Electroconvulsive therapy
    • 1859, (Paxson, E.)
    Emetic
    • 1863 July 2, (Smith, H. Lyle)
    Emmanagogue
    • 1861 April 4, (Daggett, D. L.)
    Epilepsy
    • April 21, (Browning, Dr.)
    Ether
    • April 21, (Browning, Dr.)
    • 1857 December 23, (Fisher, G. J.)
    • 1864 March 14, (Unidentified)
    Fields, Martha
    • 1866 May 24, (Unidentified)
    Flint, Austin
    • 1877 January 11, (Parker, Willard et al.)
    Foot--Diseases
    • 1871 October 4, (Gallup, Emily)
    Frémont, John Charles, 1813-1880
    • 1862 August 22, (Gr..., P. D.)
    Friction
    • 1861 April 4, (Daggett, D. L.)
    Gay, J. R.
    • 1871 October 4, (Gallup, Emily)
    Gilman, Dr.
    • 1877 April 21, (Tewskbury, L. H.)
    Greene, Dr.
    • 1877 April 21, (Tewskbury, L. H.)
    Halsted, Dr.
    • 1864 March 14, (Unidentified)
    Hayes, I.I.
    • 1877 January 11, (Parker, Willard et al.)
    Hip bath
    • 1861 April 4, (Daggett, D. L.)
    Hoffman, Dr.
    • 1857 December 23, (Fisher, G. J.)
    Homeopathy
    • 1859, (Paxson, E.)
    Hospitals
    • 1866 May 24, (Unidentified)
    • 1877 April 21, (Tewskbury, L. H.)
    Infrecation
    • 1862 April 15, (Grafton, John)
    Iodine
    • 1862 April 15, (Grafton, John)
    • 1871 October 4, (Gallup, Emily)
    Iron
    • April 21, (Browning, Dr)
    Iron citrate
    • 1861 April 4, (Daggett, D. L.)
    Irritants
    • 1871 October 4, (Gallup, Emily)
    Ives, Levi
    • 1861 April 2, (McClellan, Mrs.)
    Jaundice
    • 1862 May 2, (Lyman, David)
    Knight, Dr.
    • 1861 April 2, (McClellan, Mrs)
    Koon, Charles
    • 1874 September 22, (Gray, John W.)
    Lamb, H.B.
    • 1877 January 11, (Parker, Willard et al.)
    Laxatives
    • 1862 April 15, (Grafton, John)
    Lime
    • April 21, (Browning, Dr.)
    Lime water
    • 1877 April 21, (Tewskbury, L. H.)
    Liniment
    • 1871 October 4, (Gallup, Emily)
    Lockman
    • 1869 August 26, (Sullivan)
    Ludington, Peter D.
    • 1857 October 17, (Unidentified)
    Lyman, David
    • April 21, (Browning, Dr.)
    • 1862 August 22, (Gr..., P. D.)
    Magnesia
    • 1862 April 15, (Grafton, John)
    March, Professor
    • 1863 July 2, (Smith, H. Lyle)
    Markoe, Dr.
    • 1864 March 14, (Unidentified)
    McClellan, Emily
    • 1861 April 2, (McClellan, Mrs.)
    • 1861 April 4, (Daggett, D. L.)
    Medical instruments and apparatus
    • 1858 February 11, (Suckley, George)
    • 1875 April 2, (Ludlow, Mrs.)
    Medical students
    • 1873 November 8, (Collins, E. E.)
    Medicine--Eclectic
    • 1871 October 4, (Gallup, Emily)
    Medicine--formulae, receipts, prescriptions
    • 1861 April 2, (McClellan, Mrs.)
    Metcalfe, John T.
    • 1877 January 11, (Parker, Willard et al.)
    Milk diet
    • 1877 April 21, (Tewskbury, L. H.)
    "Milk leg"
    • 1862 April 14, (Jackson, Alex)
    Mineral waters
    • 1859, (Paxson, E.)
    • 1863 July 2, (Smith, H. Lyle)
    Moore, Dr.
    • 1874 September 22, (Gray, John W.)
    Morphine
    • 1877 April 21, (Tewskbury, L. H.)
    Mustard compounds
    • 1841 May 16, (Parker, Willard)
    Myrrh
    • 1861 April 4, (Daggett, D. L.)
    Narcotics
    • 1869 August 26, (Sullivan)
    Neoplasm
    • 1863 July 2, (Smith, H. Lyle)
    New York (State)--Politics and government
    • 1877 January 11, (Parker, Willard et al.)
    New York Journal of Medicine
    • 1858 February 11, (Suckley, George)
    Nitre
    • 1841 May 16, (Parker, Willard)
    Ovarian diseases
    • 1872 October 29, (Arnold, R. D.)
    Ovarian neoplasms
    • 1862 April 14, (Jackson, Alex)
    • 1862 April 15, (Grafton, John)
    Parker, Mary Ann
    • 1841 May 16, (Parker, Willard )
    Parker, Willard, 1800-1884
    • 1862 April 12, (McNaughton, P.)
    Plasters
    • 1871 October 4, (Gallup, Emily)
    Post, Dr.
    • 1864 March 14, (Unidentified)
    Potash, iodide of
    • 1862 April 15, (Grafton, John)
    Public health records
    • 1877 January 11, (Parker, Willard et al.)
    Reynolds, Col.
    • 1862 August 22, (Gr..., P. D.)
    Roberts, Hiram
    • 1872 October 29, (Arnold, R. D.)
    Roberts, Louisa
    • 1872 October 29, (Arnold, R. D.)
    Rose, F.W.
    • 1864 March 14, (Unidentified)
    Salicine
    • 1861 April 4, (Daggett, D. L.)
    Saltpeter
    • 1841 May 16, (Parker, Willard)
    Sandiforth, Mrs.
    • 1862 April 15, (Grafton, John)
    • 1862 April
    Sands, Dr.
    • 1864 March 14, (Unidentified)
    Sciatica
    • 1874 September 22, (Gray, John W.)
    Sherman, William Tecumseh, 1820-1891
    • 1872 October 29, (Arnold, R. D.)
    Smith, Stephen
    • 1858 February 11, (Suckley, George)
    Steambaths
    • 1859, (Paxson, E.)
    • 1871 October 4, (Gallup, Emily)
    Stevens, Dr.
    • 1861 April 4, (Daggett, D. L.)
    Stimson, Daniel
    • 1873 November 8, (Collins, E. E.)
    • 1877 January 11, (Parker, Willard et al.)
    Stimulants
    • 1877 April 21, (Tewskbury, L. H.)
    Stimulation
    • 1841 May 16, (Parker, Willard)
    Stramonium
    • April 21, (Browning, Dr.)
    • 1862 May 2, (Lyman, David)
    Strychnos
    • 1861 April 4, (Daggett, D. L.)
    Supporter
    • 1862 June 3, (Paxson, E.)
    Surgery
    • 1857 October 17, (Unidentified)
    • 1857 December 23, (Fisher, G. J.)
    • 1862 May 2, (Lyman, David)
    • 1862 August 22, (Gr..., P. D.)
    • 1863 July 2, (Smith, H. Lyle)
    • 1864 March 14, (Unidentified)
    • 1877 April 21, (Tewskbury, L. H.)
    Surgery--Practice
    • 1862 April 15, (Grafton, John)
    Sweet, Dr.
    • 1871 October 4, (Gallup, Emily)
    Tartar, cream of
    • 1862 April 15, (Grafton, John)
    Tea, basswood bark
    • 1841 May 16, (Parker, Willard)
    Tea, dandelion
    • 1859, (Paxson, E.)
    Tea, flax
    • 1841 May 16, (Parker, Willard)
    Tea, Scotch broom
    • 1859, (Paxson, E.)
    Thackeray, Mrs.
    • 1862 June 3, (Paxson, E.)
    Therapeutics
    • 1841 May 16, (Parker, Willard)
    • 1875 April 2, (Ludlow, Mrs)
    • 1859, (Paxson, E.)
    • 1861 April 2, (McClellan, Mrs)
    • 1861 April 4, (Daggett, D. L.)
    • 1862 April 15, (Grafton, John)
    • 1862 May 2, (Lyman, David)
    • 1871 October 4, (Gallup, Emily)
    • 1877 April 21, (Tewskbury, L. H.)
    Thomas, Gaillard
    • 1877 January 11, (Parker, Willard et al.)
    Turpentine
    • 1859, (Paxson, E.)
    • 1861 April 2, (McClellan, Mrs)
    • 1861 April 4, (Daggett, D. L.)
    Typhoid
    • 1872 October 29, (Arnold, R. D.)
    United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865
    • 1872 October 29, (Arnold, R. D.)
    Uterine diseases
    • 1862 April 12, (McNaughton, P.)
    Vaccine
    • 1857 December 23, (Fisher, G. J.)
    Wood, James
    • 1877 January 11, (Parker, Willard et al.)
    Wounds, stab
    • 1864 March 14, (Unidentified)
    Zinc
    • 1861 April 4, (Daggett, D. L.)