Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Dwight Dewey Papers, 1810-1875

Finding aid created by
Phil Heslip, October 2009

Summary Information
Title: Dwight Dewey papers
Creator: Dewey, Dwight Carlos, 1824-1875
Inclusive dates: 1810-1875
Extent: 1.5 linear feet
The Dewey papers consist of more than 500 items that concern the Dewey family's business and family life. The collection tracks the movements of Dwight Dewey, physician and land owner, from Iowa, to Washington, and to New York.
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:

1995. M-3174.2 .

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:

Dwight Dewey Papers, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


This collection is organized into 7 series:

  • Series I: Correspondence
  • Series II: Financial Records
  • Series III: Accounts
  • Series IV: School Exercises
  • Series V: Medical Notes
  • Series VI: Medical Books
  • Series VII: Miscellaneous


Dr. Dwight Carlos Dewey, born December 17, 1824, was one of four children of Melinda Hart and Dr. Royal Dwight Dewey, who practiced medicine in Turin, New York, between 1812 and 1850. Royal Dewey was also a partner in a general store, Holden and Dewey. In 1849, Dwight went to medical school in Buffalo, New York, where he attended lectures by Austin Flint and Corydon La Ford (later the second head of Anatomy at the University of Michigan), two of the most renowned doctors of their time.

In 1855, Dwight Dewey moved his practice from New York Mills, New York, to Keokuk, Iowa, and later to Iowa City. He accepted a post as assistant physician at the newly established Iowa Hospital for the Insane in Mt. Pleasant in March 1861, and stayed until 1865, when he moved to Washington, D.C. He practiced there for a brief time before returning to Turin, New York.

Dewey’s practice, however, was less successful than his land speculation, which led him to buy property in each of the areas in which he lived. He also settled the estate of his brother Duane, who died of tuberculosis in 1862, and was a partner in the family store. Dewey married Mary Hart on October 20, 1868. He died in Turin, New York, in 1875.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The Dewey papers consist of 545 items relating to the Dewey family including 436 letters, 46 financial records, 9 accounts, 12 school exercises, 17 medical books, and 20 miscellaneous items. The bulk of the collection is comprised of letters written to Dwight by his brother Duane; his business partner, E.B. Holden; his uncle, Anson Hart, a banker and realtor in Iowa City; his Keokuk pastor, Reverend John H. Day; and many nieces and cousins. Only a few letters were written by Dwight Dewey. Though almost no mention is made of the Civil War, the letters help to provide insight into civilian life during the war. The letters concern business and family life and track his movements from Iowa to Washington, and to New York.

A substantial number of items relate to the Dewey family's business dealings. The Financial Records series contains receipts for property transactions, commissions and services, real estate taxes, and ledgers from the family store. The Accounts series holds R. Dwight Dewey's physician account books from 1806-1820, 1815-1842, and for 1838; and Dwight C. Dewey's account books for 1848-1851. These books document a doctor's business practices in the first half of the 19th century.

The School Exercises series consists of Dwight Dewey's student essays and penmanship exercises. The Medical Notes series contains detailed notes from some his coursework in medical school. The Medical Books and Journals are notebooks kept by Royal Dwight Dewey while practicing medicine in Turin, New York. He made notes on treatments for colds, syphilis, colic, epilepsy, burns, dysentery, and other ailments, and listed medicinal recipes such as "Pectoral Syrup," "Rheumatic Liniment," and others. There are no accounts of Dwight's medical practice.

Miscellaneous items include wedding invitations; printed materials for the Keokuk Female Seminary, the state University of Iowa, and the Iowa Medical Society; and two lists of medical instruments, one with drawings of scalpel types.

Subject Terms

    • Flint, Austin.
    • Ford, Corydon L. (Corydon La), 1813-1894.
    • Iowa--Description and travel.
    • Iowa State University.
    • Medicine--United States--History--19th century.
    • Physicians--Iowa.
    • Physicians--New York (State)--New York.
    • Turin (N.Y.)--History.
    Genre Terms:
    • Account books.
    • Financial records.
    • Letters (correspondence)
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Correspondence [series]
    Box   1 Folders   1-36
     December 22, 1846-December 28, 1863
    Box   2 Folders   1-19
     January 9, 1864-August 9, 1875, and  undated
    Financial Records [series]
    Box   2 Folders   20-24
    Accounts [series]
    Box   2 Folders   25-28
    School Exercises [series]
    Box   3 Folders   1-2
    Medical Notes [series]
    Box   3 Folders   3-4
    Medical Books (R. Dwight Dewey) [series]
    Box   3 Folders   5-6
     1809-1813 and  undated
    Medical Journals [series]
    Box   3 Folder   7
     1810 and  undated
    Miscellaneous [series]
    Box   3 Folder   8
    Miscellaneous items