John Warren's copy of votes from a meeting of the Boston Medical Society, 1784 May 3
John Warren's copy of votes from a meeting of the Boston Medical Society, 1784 May 3
This document lists the eleven votes cast at a meeting of the Boston Medical Society on May 3, 1784. It was authorized as a "true coppy" by Thomas Kast, the Secretary of the Society. The following members of the Society were present at the meeting, all of them doctors: James Pecker, James Lloyd, Joseph Gardner, Samuel Danforth, Isaac Rand, Jr., Charles Jarvis, Thomas Kast, Benjamin Curtis, Thomas Welsh, Nathaniel Walker Appleton, and doctors whose last names were Adams, Townsend, Eustis, Homans, and Whitwell. The document indicates that a meeting had been held the previous evening, as well (May 2, 1784), at which the topics on which votes were taken had been discussed. The votes, eleven in total, were all related to the doctors' concerns about John Warren and his involvement with the emerging medical school (now Harvard Medical School), that school's relation to almshouses, the medical care of the poor, and other related matters. The tone and content of these votes reveals anger on the part of the members of the Boston Medical Society towards Warren. This anger appears to have stemmed from the perceived threat of Warren to their own practices, exacerbated by a vote of the Harvard Corporation on April 19, 1784. This vote authorized Warren to apply to the Overseers of the Poor for the town of Boston, requesting that students in the newly-established Harvard medical program, where Warren was Professor of Anatomy and Surgery, be allowed to visit the hospital of the almshouse with their professors for the purpose of clinical instruction. Although Warren believed that the students would learn far more from these visits, in regards to surgical experience, than they could possibly learn in Cambridge, the proposal provoked great distrust from the members of the Boston Medical Society, who accused Warren of an "attempt to direct the public medical business from its usual channels" for his own financial and professional gain.
Formerly classified, with another item, as "HUE 54.400.5." The other item, a manuscript history of the medical school of Cambridge, is cataloged separately as HUM 98.
Gift of Mrs. Buckminster Brown, via Samuel Abbott Green, December 1892.
John Warren (1753-1815), the recipient of this document, appears to have bequeathed it to his son, John Collins Warren (1778-1856), who then gave it to Buckminster Brown. Brown's wife donated the document to Harvard University.
Title supplied by cataloger.
Gift of Mrs. Buckminster Brown, via Samuel Abbott Green, December 1892.
The Boston Medical Society is believed to have been founded in April or May 1780 and was active until at least 1785; John Warren was one of its founders. Little is known about the Society, as few of its records remain, but several scholars have written about its establishment of a fee structure for medical services and its series of public anatomical lectures, delivered by Warren in in 1781 and 1782.
John Warren (1753-1815) was born in Boston, Massachusetts on July 27, 1753, to Mary and Joseph Warren. He attended Harvard College, where he received an A.B. in 1771, and subsequently studied medicine with his brother, Joseph. He would receive an honorary M.D. degree from Harvard in 1786. Warren moved to Salem, Massachusetts in 1774 and practiced medicine there until 1775, when he returned to Boston and served as hospital surgeon during the siege of Boston and then in the New York-New Jersey campaign of the Revolutionary War. He married Abigail Collins in 1777; they would have seventeen children together. From 1777 to 1782, Warren was in charge of the Continental Army hospital in Boston; during that time he also delivered anatomical lectures to the Boston Medical Society, which he had helped found in 1780. From 1783 until his death in 1815, Warren also served on the faculty of the Harvard Medical School, which he was also instrumental in founding; he was its first Hersey Professor of Anatomy and Surgery. He continued to practice medicine and surgery, in addition to his teaching and administrative responsibilities, throughout his career. His son, John Collins Warren (1778-1856), replaced him as Professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School upon his death. John Warren died in Boston on April 4, 1815.
Boston Medical Society
Harvard University Archives
Brown, Buckminster , 1819-1891 (former owner.)
Warren, John , 1753-1815 (recipient.)
.40 cubic foot (1 legal pamphlet folder)
Boston Medical Society, “John Warren's copy of votes from a meeting of the Boston Medical Society, 1784 May 3,” Colonial North American Project at Harvard, accessed September 24, 2017, http://colonialnorthamerican.library.harvard.edu/items/show/12085.