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Wood Family Papers and Medical Practice Records, 1803-1903
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • UCLA Catalog Record ID
  • Acquisition Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content
  • Related Material
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Wood Family Papers and Medical Practice Records,
    Date (inclusive): 1803-1903
    Collection number: 310
    Creator: Thomas Wood [the Elder] (1780-1826) Thomas Wood [the Younger] (1801-1866)
    Extent: 3 storage cartons 2 document boxes (3.8 linear feet)
    Repository: University of California, Los Angeles. Library. Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library History and Special Collections Division
    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 Angeles
    Language of Material: Collection materials in English


    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], Wood family papers and medical practice records (Manuscript collection 310). Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library History and Special Collections Division, University of California, Los Angeles.

    UCLA Catalog Record ID

    UCLA Catalog Record ID: 5336455 

    Acquisition Information

    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 grandsons:
    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 1945.

    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 non-collectable.
    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 material.
    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

    Related Material

    The Wood Collection of Antique Surgical Instruments in held by the Muncy Museum of Local History, Muncy, PA.

    Indexing Terms

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


    Muncie (Pa.)
    Wood, Thomas (1780-1826)
    Wood, Thomas (1801-1866)
    Medicine - Pennsylvania - history
    Physicians - Pennsylvania - Biography

    Genres and Forms

    Family papers