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Finding Aid for the James Mease Papers 1794-1848
185  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: James Mease Papers,
    Date (inclusive): 1794-1848
    Collection number: 185
    Creator: Mease, James 1771-1846
    Extent: 0.8 linear feet ( 2 document boxes)
    Repository: University of California, Los Angeles. Library. Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library History and Special Collections Division
    Los Angeles, California 90095-1490
    Abstract: James Mease (1771-1846), physician, scientific thinker and author, was one of Philadelphia's most prominent citizens and an ardent booster of both the United States and Pennsylvania. His interests were wide-ranging, as were his contacts with notable figures in science, agriculture and natural history in the United States and abroad. The papers consist of two folio volumes, over fifty letters mostly addressed to Dr. Mease, and some newspapers and other miscellaneous materials. One of the folios volumes is a letterbook, containing mostly précis, but sometimes entire copies, of outgoing correspondence over the years 1802-1836. The other volume is a register of Mease's agricultural notes, experiments, theories, plus notes on conversations and correspondence.
    Physical location: History and Special Collections Division, Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library, University of California, Los Angeles
    Language of Material: Collection materials in English

    Access

    The collection is open for research. Contact the History and Special Collections Division, Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library, UCLA, for information.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], James Mease Papers, 185, Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library History and Special Collections Division, University of California, Los Angeles.

    Acquisition Information

    Purchased by the UCLA Biomedical Library from William Reese Company, New Haven, CT in Oct. 2000.

    Biography

    James Mease (Aug. 11, 1771-May 14, 1846), physician, scientific thinker and author, was one of Philadelphia's most prominent citizens and an ardent booster of both the United States and Pennsylvania. His interests were wide-ranging, as were his contacts with notable figures in science, agriculture and natural history in the United States and abroad.
    Mease was born in Philadelphia into a wealthy and patriotic shipping merchant family; during the Revolutionary War his father, John Mease, served in the Philadelphia Troop of Light Horse. James graduated from the College of the University of Pennsylvania, and received an M.D. degree in 1792 from the same institution. He married Sarah Butler, the daughter of a South Carolina senator, in 1800. During part of the War of 1812 the younger Mease served as a hospital surgeon. Mease was one of the managers of the "Company for the Improvement of the Vine," in connection with which he developed a vineyard; he was a prominent member of The Philadelphia Society for Promoting Agriculture, a member, curator, and councilor of the American Philosophical Society, and one of the founders and first vice-president of the Philadelphia Athenaeum
    Mease belonged to an informal international network of scientifically-inclined thinkers who shared information, books, pamphlets, geological samples, seeds, etc. in an ongoing exchange. He wrote to Count Rumford, to Sir Joseph Banks, sent a pamphlet to Cuvier, had a lively correspondence with the Scottish horticultural writer, John C. Loudon, and sent rocks to Donald Stewart, mineralogist of the Dublin Society. On the subject of the Pennsylvania penal system and general criminal reform he wrote to the President of the United States, cabinet department heads, state governors, and numerous federal and state legislators. He was interested in a wide range of agricultural and horticultural topics, in various technologies, in geology, in the medicinal properties of plants. All together these papers render a portrait of a remarkably intelligent, dedicated and thoughtful individual.

    Scope and Content

    The papers consist of two folio volumes, over fifty letters mostly addressed to Dr. Mease, and some newspapers and other miscellaneous materials.
    One of the folios volumes is a letterbook containing mostly précis, but sometimes entire copies, of outgoing correspondence over the years 1802-1836. The timing of entries is quite uneven, sometimes recording several letters a day, at other times indicating intervals of three or four months or even a year between entries. Dr. Mease noted the name of the recipient, the date, and occasionally a marginal note indicated how the letter was to be conveyed: the name of a ship, perhaps the captain's or the courier's name.
    The other volume is a register of Mease's agricultural notes, experiments, theories, plus notes on conversations and correspondence. The topics cover a wide range of agricultural and horticultural subjects, methods and theories. There is a fairly complete index to topics included.
    Aside from a few autobiographical pages, there is little trace of Dr. Mease's personal life in this collection. The correspondence contains only an occasional greeting to his wife; his letters rarely mention his own state of health or being, and almost never mention the family. There is also very little information on his activities as a clinical physician.
    The collection is organized into the following series:
    • Series 1. Biographical materials.. 2 folders
    • Series 2. Writings and Speeches, 1799-1836. 1 document box plus 7 folders
    • Series 3. Correspondence, 1794-1842. 5 folders
    • Series 4. Miscellaneous Papers, 1787-1847. 2 folders

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.

    Subjects

    Philadelphia Society for Promoting Agriculture
    Agriculture--United States--History--19th century.
    Physicians--United States--Archival resources.
    Physicians--United States--History--19th century.
    Prisons--Pennsylvania--History--19th century.