American Civil War Medicine & Surgical Antiques

Surgical Set collection from 1860 to 1865 - Civilian and Military

Civil War:  Medicine, Surgeon Education & Medical Textbooks

 Dr. Michael Echols  &  Dr. Doug Arbittier


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Joseph Carson, M.D. 

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Joseph Carson, M.D..  Professor of Materia Medica and Therapeutics at the University of Pennsylvania.

Dr. Joseph Carson was born in Philadelphia, April 19, 1808, and died December 30, 1876, in the sixty-ninth year of his age.  After a course of study during three years in the University of Pennsylvania, he graduated, one of a class of eight, from the Department of Arts, July 27, 1826.

Naturally inquisitive, and endowed with senses always alert, his few months' experience in the drug-house gave him information which was valuable in his subsequent pursuits, and possibly influenced him to devote himself especially to materia medica in preference to any other branch. At any rate, with a short training in the art of buying and selling drugs, and a collegiate education, he commenced the study of medicine. He became a private or office pupil of Dr. Thomas Hewson. and followed the courses of lectures prescribed in the medical department of the University of Pennsylvania, and was graduated from it Doctor of Medicine in March, 1830.

Very soon after the Commencement, he was elected a resident-physician in the hospital of the Philadelphia Almshouse, and discharged the duties satisfactorily during a year or more.

Between Oct. 13. 1831, and August 3, 1832, he served as surgeon of the ship Georgian, Captain John Land, and visited Madras and Calcutta. The journal which he kept during the voyage shows that he was a careful observer. The temperatures of the sea and air and the fluctuations of the barometer are daily recorded in it ; and marine animals observed are noted, and some of them figured.

Immediately after his return home he engaged in private practice.

October 29, 1833. he was elected a member of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, and placed on the Botanical Committee Jan. 1834, and zealously assisted in arranging and caring for the herbarium. He held the office of librarian two years, from Dec. 1834, until Dec. 1836, and aided in preparing and publishing a catalogue of the books. He served on the Publication Committee five years, from Dec. 1836, until Dec. 1841 ; was recording secretary during six months in 1837 ; and was one of the vice-presidents from Dec. 1869, until Dec. 1875, a period of five years. His labors and contributions of various kinds during forty-three years aided considerably to advance the purposes of the Society—the acquisition and diffusion of knowledge.

He was elected Professor of Materia Medica in The Philadelphia College of Pharmacy in 1836, and held the chair until 1850. During this period of fourteen years, he was editor of the American Journal of Pharmacy, assisted first by Professor Robert Bridges and subsequently by Professor William Procter, Jr., and contributed twenty-six original papers to its pages.

He edited, with notes and additions, the second American edition, published in 1843, of Pereira's Materia Medica, and the third American edition of the same great work published in 1852.

In 1847 lie published his Illustrations of Medical Botany, comprised in two quarto volumes, with 100 plates.

He was a member of the National Convention for Revising the Pharmacopœia of the United States, and served on the Committee of Revision and Publication in 18(50, and was chairman of this committee and president of the convention in 1870.

Dr. Carson was elected a fellow of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia Dec. 1838, and was one of the censors for several years. He was a delegate from the College to the National Medical Convention held at Philadelphia, May, 1847, which resolved itself into the American Medical Association; and was appointed a member of the committee on indigenous botany. Subsequently he was many times a delegate at the annual meetings of the American Medical Association, and was elected one of its representatives to the International Medical Congress of 1876.

He was a member of the Philadelphia County Medical Society. He was its president in 1862, and one of its delegates to the Quarantine Convention held at Cincinnati, May, 1861.

During 1870, he was elected honorary member of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Reading, Pa.; of the State Medical Society of New York; and of the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy.

He was elected, Feb. 1872 a member of the Board of Directors of the Philadelphia Trust and Safe Deposit Company, in which he was esteemed for his knowledge of affairs and judicious counsel.

He was physician of the Foster Home in 1840; physician of the lying-in department of the Pennsylvania Hospital from 1849 until May, 1854. when it was permanently closed ; and was elected a consulting physician of the Hospital of the Protestant Episcopal Church in May, 1852.

He was elected Professor of Materia Medica and Therapeutics in the medical department of the University of Pennsylvania in 1850 ; failing health induced him to resign the chair in May, 1876, and he was appointed emeritus professor.

He was always loyal to the interests of the University. Early in the year 1869 he published "A History of the Medical Department of the University of Pennsylvania from its foundation in 17G5, with sketches of the lives of deceased Professors.

Joseph Carson, born in Philadelphia, April 19, 1808, was of Scottish ancestry, and his early education was received at the Germantown Academy. At the University of Pennsylvania, he received in 1825 the degree of A. B.; he then entered the wholesale drug store of Dr. Edward Lowber, but soon withdrew; and after devoting a few years to botany, he commenced the study of medicine, as a pupil of Dr. Thomas T. Hewson, and was graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1830.

He was at once elected Resident Physician of the Pennsylvania Hospital. Before entering upon private practice he made a voyage to the East Indies, as Surgeon of the ship Georgiana, and visited Madras and Calcutta. He returned to Philadelphia in August, 1832, and commenced the practice of his profession.

In the thirty-third year of his age he married Mary Goddard, who died soon after ; later he married Mary Hollingsworth.

After the first ten years, his practice rapidly increased, and he gained an envied position as a practitioner of obstetrics. As this branch of his profession involved great physical labor and exposure, he was compelled in the midst of his success to give it up. In 1831 he was elected Professor of Materia Medica, in the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy, and held the position until 1850; in that year he was elected Professor of Materia Medica and Therapeutics in the University of Pennsylvania, which he held until 1876, when he resigned and was then elected to the Obstetrical Staff of the Pennsylvania Hospital in 1849, he held this position until 1854, when this department of the hospital was closed.

Dr. Carson was a member of the Philadelphia Medical Society, Academy Natural Sciences; Lecturer on Materia Medica and Pharmacy in Medical Institute ; a member of the American Philosophical Society, American Medical Association, National Convention for Revision of Pharmacopceia, 1860; member Quarantine Convention, Cincinnati, May, 1861 ; Philadelphia County Medical Society, President, 1862.

He died December 30, 1876, aged about sixty-eight years.

Dr. Carson was a voluminous writer ; he was editor of the "Journal of Pharmacy," from October 1836 until July, 1850, and contributed to it not less than seventy-six original papers; while connected with the same, he edited with notes and additions, two editions of " Pereira's Materia Medica"; and in 1847 published his ' Illustrations of Medical Botany," in two quarto volumes, many of the illustrations having been drawn and colored by himself. Perhaps the most important of all his works is his admirable History of the Medical Department of the University of Pennsylvania, being a testimonial of his regard, love, and loyalty to his Alma Mater.

(The personal edited research notes of Michael Echols, the source of which may or may not be completely documented)

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Civil War Medical Collections 


Direct links to all medical & Civil War collections on this site                         

American Surgical Sets:

Pre-Civil War:  1 | 2  -   Post-Civil War:  3  -  Civil War 1861-1865:  4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8   INDEX

Medical Text-Books:

1 | 1a | 2 | 2a | 3 | 3a | 4 | 4a | 5 | 5a | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 9a | 10 | 11 | 12    INDEX

Surgeon General's Office Library printed catalogues: 1840 | 1864 | 1865
Medical Lecture Cards: 1 | 2 | 34 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21    INDEX

Medical Faculty and Authors:


Navy Surgeon Exams:

1863 Navy Surgeon Applicant Exams with Biographies   INDEX ONE | INDEX TWO

Surgeon CDVs, Images:

Army: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8    INDEX

Navy: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8   

Hosp Dep't Bottles, Tins, 

U.S. Army Pannier:

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

American Civil War Medicine & Surgical Antiques

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Last update: Monday, December 12, 2016