Scope and Content
Title: Wood Family Papers and Medical Practice
Date (inclusive): 1803-1903
Collection number: 310
Creator: Thomas Wood [the Elder]
(1780-1826) and Thomas Wood [the Younger] (1801-1866]
3 storage cartons
2 document boxes
(3.8 linear feet)
University of California, Los Angeles. Library.
Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library History and Special Collections
Los Angeles, California 90095-1490
Abstract: The Wood Family papers consist of office and some
household records of a multi-generational physicians' practice in Muncy
(Pennsborough), Lycoming County, Pennsylvania, from 1803 to approximately 1868,
with a few later items. In addition to 40 bound day books, which list patient
names, dates and short notations of treatment or medication, and ledgers, which
follow the payment history of each account, approximately 200 separate
manuscript sheets or scraps include invoices, promissory notes, receipts, legal
judgments, and a few letters. The collection also includes some printed
pamphlets and journals, a very few medical/surgical instruments, and three
photographs. The contents of these materials provide a small window on medical
treatments and therapeutics in one specific practice over 60-some years, plus a
rather good picture of the business lives and some insight into the personal
lives of these doctors.
Physical location: History and Special Collections Division,
Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library, University of California, Los
Language of Material: Collection materials in English
Collection is open for research.
Property rights in the physical objects belong to the UCLA Biomedical
Library. Literary rights, including copyright, are retained by the creators and
their heirs. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine who holds
the copyright and pursue the copyright owner or his or her heir for permission
to publish if the Biomedical Library does not hold the copyright.
[Identification of item], Wood Family Papers and Medical Practice Records,
310, Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library History and Special Collections
Division, University of California, Los Angeles.
The Wood Family Papers were bought in October, 2005 by the History and
Special Collections Division, UCLA Biomedical Library, from Zephyr Used and Rare
Books, Vancouver, WA.
The Drs. Wood whose records comprise this collection descended from James
Wood "the Immigrant", who came from the British Isles to settle in
Pennsylvania's Cumberland Valley ca. 1735, built a stone house on the Cumberland
Valley Pike which was still standing in 1948, and who died in 1750. One of his
Dr. THOMAS WOOD (1780-1826) Senior (the Elder), was the first of the Wood
doctors to practice in Muncy, PA. He was born in Thompsontown, PA, read medicine
with Dr. Ezra Doty of Juanita County, and arrived on horseback in 1803 in Muncy
where he was probably the first permanent resident physician. His practice
covered a large area, requiring arduous rounds on horseback for days at a time.
However he prospered quickly and invested in land; when the town incorporated in
1826 (first as Pennsborough, then as Muncy after a local Indian tribe), Thomas
Wood owned considerable real estate within its boundaries, plus a fertile farm
in the country nearby. In 1812 Dr. Wood decided to extend his apprenticeship
training in medicine and entered the University of Pennsylvania Medical College
for a full course of lectures; he received his diploma in 1813. He married Miss
Eliza Montgomery in 1820 at the age of 40, had one daughter who died as a
toddler, and died himself in 1826. As a young bachelor he had adopted and raised
his sister's orphaned children, Thomas and Rachel. The nephew Thomas also became
a physician, and to him the uncle turned over the medical practice in 1820.
DR. THOMAS WOOD (1801-1866) Junior (the Younger), trained with his uncle
before entering the University of Pennsylvania in medicine and graduating in
1820. The elder Dr. Wood had just married and moved to the nearby town of
Paradise in the next county; in 1819 he had entered into a partnership with his
nephew, and now in 1820 he turned the medical practice over to his nephew.
Thomas Jr. became a highly honored doctor and citizen during his 40-plus years
of service to the Muncy Valley. In 1823 he entered into a partnership with his
cousin Dr. George Wood, which was dissolved over a year later when George
decided to move west to Ohio; ca. 1827 Dr. James Rankin signed a partnership
agreement which lasted until 1842. Dr. Wood Jr. was one of two executors in his
uncle's estate, and also served as guardian or executor for several other
families in the community. He married three times and had a son, Hopewell
Hepburn Wood, by his second wife.
Dr. GEORGE WOOD, another nephew of Dr. Wood senior, also studied medicine
first with his uncle and then at the University of Pennsylvania. He returned to
Muncy, set up a practice, and entered into partnership with his cousin Thomas
junior for a year or two. He married Miss Bigger of Muncy, built a house, but
fairly soon decided to move further west, to Ohio, where he settled permanently.
His stay in Muncy was not long enough to have him considered seriously among the
"Muncy Wood doctors".
Dr. GEORGE GLENN WOOD (1848-1917), the great-nephew of Thomas senior and a
cousin, once removed, of Thomas junior, graduated from Jefferson Medical
College, Philadelphia in 1872 and opened a practice in Muncy in 1873, just six
years after the death of his great-uncle. He was a member of the Lycoming County
Medical Society and organized the Muncy Valley Medical Association. During
1888-1892 he served as a member of the state legislature. As much as it was
possible in his time he specialized in Pediatrics, and wrote a small book, "The
Care of Infants", aimed at mothers. His son described him as a scholarly
physician with a reputation as a local historian and a prominent Democratic
leader. He was the last of the Muncy's "horse and buggy doctors", and also the
father of the next Muncy Dr. Wood.
Dr. THOMAS KENNETH WOOD (1877-1958), son of Dr. George Glenn Wood, began
practice in Muncy in 1903, the year he graduated from the Medico-Chirurgical
College of Philadelphia. He was a member and fellow of the American Medical
Association, a founder and president of the Muncy Valley Private Hospital which
was established in 1923, sparked the beginning of the Muncy Historical Society
and served as its first president and editor of its publication "Now and Then;
quarterly magazine of history and biography". He retired from practice in
Scope and Content
The scope of this collection is geographically narrow but extensive
chronologically: it provides the patient and financial records of two
generations of physicians practicing in and around Muncy, Lycoming County,
Pennsylvania from 1803 to 1866. Some additional materials stemming from two more
doctors from the same family, practicing in the same place, add depth and
interpretation. The first two doctors were both named Thomas Wood.
Contemporaries often distinguished them by Senior and Junior, or the Elder and
the Younger, but it is often hard to assign undated items in the papers to one
or the other.
The largest part of the collection consists of 39 Day Books and Ledgers
recording the business of the doctors' office. Day Books (and Blotters) include
day-by-day entries of patient's name, succinct description of treatment and
medicines, and cost of service. Ledgers are arranged by patient name, and detail
the financial status of each account; usually they also indicate treatment
given. In any of these books occasional comments, recipes for medicines, or
references to legal commitments or contracts are included. Many of the Day Books
and Ledgers were hard-bound volumes and survived in remarkably good condition;
some, however, were soft-covered, hand stitched, with extra pages added
afterwards, and are quite fragile.
Careful perusal of these volumes can turn up a variety of information. For
example: how many gunshot wounds, broken limbs, births, etc. were treated, how
often was venesection the treatment and for what complaints, what herbal and
inorganic medicines were favored; sho were the patients and, sometimes, what was
their status and business; how did the patients fare; almost 70 years of records
allow medical histories of individuals and families. The Ledgers add the
fascinating information of how, and how often, the doctors were paid; what goods
and services were taken in barter; how often was an account labeled
The focus of the loose manuscript materials is almost entirely financial,
covering both the physicians' professional and personal lives. Bills, receipts
for moneys received and paid out, promissory notes, copies of legal judgments
for payment are written on variously-sized pieces of paper which had been
repeatedly folded into small packets. A large portion of this loose material
stemmed from the settlement of Thomas Sr.'s estate, where Thomas Jr. acted as
co-executor. Correspondence constitutes only a very small part of the loose
Printed materials consist of 22 pamphlets, journal issues on medical,
religious, political and cultural topics. There is also one folder of
biographical materials about the Wood Family and Lycoming County. The objects
consist of a few medical/surgical instruments, a pair of spectacles, a "Doctor
Thomas Wood" nameplate, and three photographs.
The collection is organized into the following series:
- Series 1. Day Books, Ledgers, and Blotters, 1803-1869. 36 folders
- Series 2. Loose Manuscript Materials., 1803-1865. 31 folders
- Series 3. Printed Materials, 1849-1903. 6 folders
- Series 4. Objects, no dates. 2 folders and 8 objects
The Wood Collection of Antique Surgical Instruments in held by the Muncy
Museum of Local History, Muncy, PA.
The following terms have been used to index the description of this
collection in the library's online public access catalog.
Wood, Thomas (1780-1826)
Wood, Thomas (1801-1866)
Medicine - Pennsylvania -
Physicians - Pennsylvania -
Genres and Forms