Jacob Bigelow papers, 1770-1879 (inclusive), 1800-1879 (bulk)

About this Collection

Bigelow, Jacob , 1786-1879
Manuscripts (document genre)Certificates.Correspondence.Financial records.Lists.Medical records.Natural history specimens.Newspapers.
Collection Title
Jacob Bigelow papers, 1770-1879 (inclusive), 1800-1879 (bulk)
2.41 cubic feet in 4 flat storage boxes and 1 legal size document box.
Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine

Content Notes

The Jacob Bigelow papers, 1770-1879 (inclusive), 1800-1879 (bulk), contain correspondence with Jacob Bigelow's (1786-1879) colleagues concerning botanical specimens; publication of the Pharmacopoeia of the United States from 1820 to 1831; and general medical matters. There is also correspondence with his family, including his parents, siblings, and his son, physician Henry Jacob Bigelow (1818-1890). Other material includes correspondence and records related to the Rumford Professorship at Harvard, and related to his participation in medical and scientific associations; notes and lists relating to plants and flowers; patient medical records and case histories; drafts of lectures and revisions to the Pharmacopoeia; and accounts and bills. There is also correspondence of the Bigelow family after his death, compiled correspondence and records generated by medical colleagues, andnewspapers and clippings.
  • Papers are in English, French, and Latin.

Biographical Notes

Jacob Bigelow (1786-1879), a physician and botanist in Boston, Massachusetts, served as lecturer at the Harvard Medical School; Rumford Professor and Lecturer on the Application of Science to the Useful Arts; Professor of Materia Medica; and as a member of Harvard's Board of Overseersfrom 1846 to 1854. After graduating from Harvard College in 1806, Bigelow received his M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1810. In 1811, he established a medical practice in Boston and began a series of botanical lectures at Harvard College with William Dandridge Peck (1763-1822), Massachusetts Professor of Natural History. From 1815 to 1818, he was a lecturer in medicine, and in 1815, he was appointed Professor of Materia Medica at Harvard Medical School, a position he held until 1855. In 1816, Bigelow was appointed the first Rumford Professor and Lecturer on the Application of the Sciences to the Useful Arts at Harvard, a post he held until 1827. Bigelow coined the term "technology" to describe the use of scientific ideas in the useful arts, and in 1829, he published his Rumford lectures under the title Elements of Technology, taken chiefly from a Course of Lectures delivered at Cambridge, on the Application of the Sciences to the Useful Arts. Bigelow was active in the preparation of the first United States Pharmacopoeia in 1820, along with Lyman Spalding (1775-1821). He also was president of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences from 1847-1863, and was a member of the Academy for 67 years. He additionally helped establish and design Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge. From 1846 to 1854, he was member of Harvard's Board of Overseers. Bigelow published several works on botany, Florula Bostoniensis (1814) and American Medical Botany (1817-1820). He began work on a flora of New England with Dr. Francis Boott, but the project was abandoned.