T. Larkin (Thomas Larkin) Turner Collection, 1833-1881

Processed by and machine-readable finding aid created by UCLA Biomedical Library staff
Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library History and Special Collections for the Sciences
12-077 Center for Health Sciences
Box 951798
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1798
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Fax: 310/825-0465
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Descriptive Summary

Title: T. Larkin (Thomas Larkin) Turner Collection,
Date (inclusive): 1833-1881
Collection number: 329
Creator: Turner, T. Larkin (Thomas Larkin), 1812-1897.
Extent: 1 document box (0.5 linear ft)
Repository: University of California, Los Angeles. Library.Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library History and Special Collections for the Sciences
Los Angeles, California 90095-1490
Abstract: Ninety-seven items, consisting of legal agreements, letters, and testimonials related to T. Larkin Turner's apothecary business in Boston, and to the patent medicines and soap he manufactured and sold.
Physical location: Cage, History and Special Collections for the Sciences, Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library, UCLA
Language of Material: Collection materials inEnglish


Collection is open for research.

Publication Rights

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.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], T. Larkin (Thomas Larkin) Turner collection (Manuscript collection 329). Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library History and Special Collections for the Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles.

UCLA Catalog Record ID

UCLA Catalog Record ID: 6702604 

Acquisition Information

Purchased from aGatherin', West Sand Lake, N.Y., in June 2011.


T. (Thomas) Larkin Turner (1812-1897) was born in Charlestown, Massachusetts to a family tracing its ancestry back to 1630s Plymouth. Educated first at Harvard, he left to study medicine with Dr. Hurd of Charlestown; he was first listed as a druggist in the Boston Directory in 1839. Turner's father was Capt. Larkin Turner, a shipmaster for 40 years who served two terms in the Massachusetts legislature after his retirement from the sea. The young Turner sailed on his father's ships "Henry" and "Palestine" in 1834 and 1835. Then for the next two years he served as draftsman and surveyor for the Brunswick and Florida Railroad in Georgia and Florida.
As the earliest items in this collection indicate, by November 1837 Turner was signing papers for a partnership to acquire and run a pharmacy in Boston. He headed this business for approximately the next forty years, manufacturing and marketing proprietary and other patent medicines and, starting about 1852, soap. The firm of Turner and Co. was first listed in 1867.
Turner became a member of the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy in 1851 and served as one of the College's representatives to the 1852 National Pharmaceutical Convention, which established the American Pharmaceutical Association. He also belonged to the Massachusetts Pharmaceutical Society and the Massachusetts Historical and Genealogical Societies, and the Knights Templar of the Masonic Order. He was a visitor for the Boston Provident Association, a charity for the poor, and compiled a 45 p. catalog of the clients it served; in 1853 he authored a memoir of the Rev. Edward Turner, an ancestor. In 1843 he married Elizabeth Devina of Hingham, Mass.

Scope and Content

A chronological list compiled by the bookseller (see Folder 1) itemizes each document with date, name of correspondent, and a short indication of content. The item numbers used in this Finding Aid's Container List refer to the items of the bookseller list. The content is separated into legal and informal contracts and agreements, items concerning the pharmacy and its medicines, some personal items, and plans for the manufacture of soap.

Related Material

Other collections of T. Larkin Turner papers related to his pharmacy are available at: 1. The Library Company of Philadelphia, Helfand Popular Medicine collection; 2. Univ. Michigan, William L. Clements Library; 3. National Library of Medicine.
The Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library, University of Georgia, collection MS#2806 focuses mainly on T. Larkin Turner's years as surveyor in the Southeast. Ms.Coll. 95 of the G.W. Blunt White Library, Mystic Seaport Museum, Stonington, CT, focuses on Capt. Larkin Turner, but also includes two journals kept by T. Larkin Turner aboard his father's ships.

Indexing Terms

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


Chapin and Whiton
Turner and Co. (Boston, Mass.)
Turner, T. Larkin (Thomas Larkin), 1812-1897
Drug Industry -- economics
Neuralgia -- drug therapy
Nonprescription Drugs
Patent medicines
Pharmaceutical Industry -- Massachusetts -- Boston
Popular Medicine

Genres and Forms

Advertisements -- Patent medicines
Price lists

Container List

Box 1, Folder 1

Itemized collection contents.

Scope and Content Note

the bookseller aGatherin' compiled this itemized list, providing specific date, correspondent's name, and terse summary or highlight of the content for each item
Box 1, Folder 2

Wrapping paper and label for the collection. undated

Scope and Content Note

"T. Larkin Turner/Private Papers", in ink on back of printed card: "Universal Neuralgia Pill, The Undoubted Cure for all Excruciating Ills known as Neuralgia or Nerve-Ache. For Sale Here"; wrapping paper with very faint pencil notation
Box 1, Folder 3

Turner's personal miscellanea. 1833, 1837, 1844, 1854

Scope and Content Note

Items #1, 2, 16, 27: membership in Boston Phrenological Society, letters from friends, family, business acquaintances
Box 1, Folder 4

Legal and informal contracts and agreements. 1837-1875

Scope and Content Note

Items #3-15, 17, 19, 26, 29-30, 33, 75, 88: most of the documents concern Turners business interests
Box 1, Folder 5

Turner's apothecary business. 1845-1881

Scope and Content Note

Items #18, 20-22, 24-25, 28, 31, 34-70, 73-74, 76-87, 89, 91-92: orders and testimonials, mostly concerning the neuralgia pills
Box 1, Folder 6

Turner's apothecary business. 1838 November-December

Scope and Content Note

four invoices for drugs that Turner bought from Brewers, Stevens & Cushing, Boston


these items, added later to the collection, are unnumbered
Box 1, Folder 7

Turner's professional memberships. 1852-1869

Scope and Content Note

Item #23, 32, 71-72: communications from Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and American Pharmaceutical Association
Box 1, Folder 8

Turner's Eclipse Harness Soap. undated

Scope and Content Note

Items #90, 93: concern manufacture of the soap


see also Item #88 (folder 4) for partnership information