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Dr. Samuel Johnson (1790-1876) Papers

Dr. Samuel Johnson (1790-1876) Papers

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DR. SAMUEL JOHNSON (1790-1876) PAPERS, 1815-1876

Collection Summary

Repository:The Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum 132 Essex Street Salem, MA 01970 Phone: 978-745-9500 Fax: 978-531-1516
Creator:Johnson, Samuel, 1790-1876
Title:Dr. Samuel Johnson (1790-1876) Papers
Quantity:5 linear feet (8 boxes, 4 volumes)
Abstract:The Dr. Samuel Johnson Papers document the personal and professional life of this Salem, Massachusetts, physician.
Collection Number:MSS 254

Series List

SERIES I. Medical Records
SERIES II. Financial Records
SERIES III. Personal Papers

Scope and Content Note

The Dr. Samuel Johnson Papers document the personal and professional life of this Salem, Massachusetts, physician. The papers are divided into three series.

Series I. Medical Records incudes mostly birth and dispensary records from 1818 to 1847. The birth records list patients and the sex of the child. The dispensary records list the patient and their ailments or diseases including fever, pneumonia, and syphilis.

Series II. Financial Records is comprised of account books, daybooks, cash books, and expense books. Both Johnson's professional and personal accounts are included, sometimes in the same volume. The account books and daybooks list patients with the amounts of charges, but not the ailments for which the visits were made. The account books list the debtor amounts and dates and the credit amounts and dates; payment is mostly in cash, but occasionally in services and/or goods. Of interest is the occasional receipt of an amount for "ext. tooth." Most of the volumes are indexed. The account books also document income to Johnson from his investments, such as bonds, railroads, stocks, the Salem and Chelsea Turnpike, etc. They list in great detail Johnson's expenses. This series also includes bills and receipts (B8 F3).

Series III. Personal Papers includes personal correspondence with family and friends, and business correspondence. The personal letters concerning Harvard (B8 F5) include references to classmates and "get togethers" and reunions, including that held in 1874. The legal records (B8 F7) include insurance policies and a promissory note. The miscellaneous papers (B8 F8) are primarily loose papers removed from the various account books.

Biographical Sketch

Dr. Samuel Johnson, a prominent physician in Salem and Essex County, was born in Andover, Massachusetts, on December 18, 1790, the son of Joshua and Martha (Spofford) Johnson.

Johnson graduated from Harvard College in the class of 1814, and was a classmate of James Walker, later President of Harvard. Based on the financial records in the collection, Johnson had a career of nearly 50 years of service as an active physician. In 1830, in a famous Salem murder case, he performed an autopsy on the body of Captain Joseph White, who was found murdered at home.

Johnson married Anna Dodge on June 7, 1821. They had seven children: four daughters and three sons. His son, Samuel (1822-1882), became a minister; some of Johnson's papers in this collection came from Rev. Samuel Johnson's papers (MSS 248).

Johnson died on May 28, 1876 at age 86.

Index Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in Philcat. Researchers desiring materials about related topics, persons, or places should search the catalog using these headings.

Library catalogs
Medical libraries
Vital statistics
Salem (Mass.)
Salem (Mass.)--Physicians
Account books


Restrictions on Access

This collection is open for research use.

Administrative Information


Requests for permission to publish material from the collection must be submitted in writing to the Manuscript Librarian in the Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum.

Preferred Citation

Dr. Samuel Johnson (1790-1876) Papers, MSS 254, Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Mass.


All of the volumes and booklets (with the exception of the personal expense book, 1827-1833) were donated by the estate of Catherine Johnson on September 24, 1918. The expense book (B7 F8) was removed from the papers of Rev. Samuel Johnson (MSS 248). The provenance of some of the letters and items is unknown.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Donald Gleason, June 1991. Updated by Tamara Gaydos, November 2015.

Related Material

Andover Vital Records to 1850, Vol. I (Births), p. 231.

Salem Vital Records to 1850, Vol. III (Marriages), p. 551.

Salem Vital Records to 1850, Vol. I (Births), p. 475-477.

Salem Vital Records to 1850, Vol. V (Deaths), p. 362.

Scrapbook – Biographical Clippings, Vol. 14, pp. 269, 273, and 277 (obituaries from the Salem Gazette, Salem Register, and Salem Observer respectively)

Johnson Family Papers, 1729-1853, Fam. Mss. 510

Rev. Samuel Johnson Papers, 1836-1899, MSS 248

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