This collection is made up of 76 letters that Harry M. Horton of Terrytown, Pennsylvania, wrote to his brother George while attending Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, between 1833 and 1835. In his densely written letters, Horton described aspects of his medical studies, his social and religious life, and local and national political events, such as the Philadelphia race riots of August 1834. Additional items include 2 letters George wrote to Harry in 1835, a letter Harry received from William Arms, a letter by Ezra Stiles Ely attesting to Harry's membership in Philadelphia's Third Presbyterian Church, and a retained copy of George's letter to Professor Samuel McClellan describing Harry's death in 1835.
Harry corresponded with George during his time at Jefferson Medical College, writing 1- to 4-page letters regularly between October 1833 and February 1835. His letters provide detailed information about contemporary medical practices and medical education, as Horton described his lectures, medical experiments, operations, new theories, his professors, and his fellow students. He frequently commented on the sermons of Eliza Stiles Ely, who preached at Philadelphia's Third Presbyterian Church; on his social life; and on various aspects of student life, such as living with roommates. Horton often mentioned local and national political issues, such as the decline of the Second Bank of the United States, race relations, and abolition. In August 1834, he reflected on recent race riots in Philadelphia (see August 14, 1834, for example). On June 26, 1834, Horton gave his account of a balloon flight over Philadelphia, and on May 6, 1834, he wrote of a boating trip in Liverpool, England. In his later letters, Horton anticipated his upcoming graduation and potential career as a physician, and debated possible future relocations.
The remaining letters include 3 written by Harry's brother, George Firman Horton, a practicing physician in Terrytown, Pennsylvania. George wrote Harry 2 letters (March 9, 1835, and undated) about his upcoming plans to visit Philadelphia and about a recent religious discussion. In his third letter, a retained copy dated May 8, 1835, he informed Professor Samuel McClellan (of Jefferson Medical College) of Harry's death, and included a detailed account of his brother's final illness and attempts to treat it. Also included are a letter in which Ezra Stiles Ely recommended Harry M. Horton as a member of the Third Presbyterian Church and as an upstanding physician (March 24, 1835) and a friendly letter Harry received from William Arms, an acquaintance (April 18, 1835).