Extraordinary archive of 150 letters between the founder of the Western Pennsylvania Medical School (University of Pittsburgh) and his wife, plus letters from Thomas Spencer Wells, William Stewart Halsted, John Milton Duff, James B. Murdoch and others. James McCann.
Extraordinary archive of 150 letters between the founder of the Western Pennsylvania Medical School (University of Pittsburgh) and his wife, plus letters from Thomas Spencer Wells, William Stewart Halsted, John Milton Duff, James B. Murdoch and others
Extraordinary archive of 150 letters between the founder of the Western Pennsylvania Medical School (University of Pittsburgh) and his wife, plus letters from Thomas Spencer Wells, William Stewart Halsted, John Milton Duff, James B. Murdoch and others
Extraordinary archive of 150 letters between the founder of the Western Pennsylvania Medical School (University of Pittsburgh) and his wife, plus letters from Thomas Spencer Wells, William Stewart Halsted, John Milton Duff, James B. Murdoch and others
Extraordinary archive of 150 letters between the founder of the Western Pennsylvania Medical School (University of Pittsburgh) and his wife, plus letters from Thomas Spencer Wells, William Stewart Halsted, John Milton Duff, James B. Murdoch and others
Extraordinary archive of 150 letters between the founder of the Western Pennsylvania Medical School (University of Pittsburgh) and his wife, plus letters from Thomas Spencer Wells, William Stewart Halsted, John Milton Duff, James B. Murdoch and others
Extraordinary archive of 150 letters between the founder of the Western Pennsylvania Medical School (University of Pittsburgh) and his wife, plus letters from Thomas Spencer Wells, William Stewart Halsted, John Milton Duff, James B. Murdoch and others
Extraordinary archive of 150 letters between the founder of the Western Pennsylvania Medical School (University of Pittsburgh) and his wife, plus letters from Thomas Spencer Wells, William Stewart Halsted, John Milton Duff, James B. Murdoch and others
Extraordinary archive of 150 letters between the founder of the Western Pennsylvania Medical School (University of Pittsburgh) and his wife, plus letters from Thomas Spencer Wells, William Stewart Halsted, John Milton Duff, James B. Murdoch and others

Extraordinary archive of 150 letters between the founder of the Western Pennsylvania Medical School (University of Pittsburgh) and his wife, plus letters from Thomas Spencer Wells, William Stewart Halsted, John Milton Duff, James B. Murdoch and others

The letters date from 1886-1893, and are divided fairly evenly between letters from James McCann to his wife Martha and her letters to him. Most letters are 4 or more pages, one is upwards of 15pp. Most have their envelopes. In addition, there is one letter each from Thomas Spencer Wells, William Stewart Halsted, John Milton Duff, James B. Murdoch, and a number of letters from McCann's daughter Alice to her mother, plus some old family photos and other related correspondence. James McCann (1837-1893) was 19th Century Pittsburgh's most important medical figure. A nationally respected surgeon, he was the chief founder of the Western Pennsylvania Medical College in 1886, which became the University of Pittsburgh Medical School, and was Chair of Principles and Practices of Surgery until his death in 1893. He had nine children with his first wife, Sarah, who died in 1883, and one child with his second wife, Martha, whom he married in 1888. This archive begins in 1886 with a flirtatious reply to a note from Martha, and ends in 1893 with a long and heartfelt letter from his best friend and fellow surgeon, J. B. Murdoch. His 1893 death at the age of 56 was due to a septic infection he contracted years before while performing surgery, and throughout these letters his health is a constant theme, even appearing in his first letter to Martha. Another theme is the balancing of his life as a surgeon and the politics of the first years of the medical school, with his personal life. In the first years of courting Martha (1886 to early 1888), he often wrote apologetically that he had to cancel a date because of a medical emergency he had to take care of. There are 20 letters from this period. In 1889-1890, there are only a few letters, as they settled into married life; their only time apart was when he went with friends and children from his previous marriage to a hunting and fishing lodge near Romney, West Virginia. In 1891, he and his fellow surgeon James B. Murdoch took a long trip to Europe, from April to July, ostensibly to restore his health but also to meet with some of the great European surgeons and learn from their techniques. There are 51 letters between Martha and James from this 4 month period. MaCann and Murdoch began their European tour in Glasgow, in late April through May, 1891 -- Glasgow was Murdoch's hometown -- and they toured medical facilities, dined with friends, etc. Then they spent some time in London, where Sir Thomas Spencer Wells, doctor to Queen Victoria, invited Murdoch and McCann to attend his surgeries. From there, they went to Belgium, Amsterdam, journeyed down the Rhein to Wiesbaden, made their way to Luzerne, circled back around to Paris and then came back to the UK, thence to America. While he was gone, Martha reported on office politics at the Medical School, then in its infancy, that seemed to imply a coup against McCann in his absence. Martha's involvement in James's professional life reveals her to be a canny and observant persona, who acted in her husband's interests while he was away. McCann's letters back to her while he was in Europe also reveal a man of considerable perceptiveness when it came both to the character of the people he observed as well as of the countries, their landscapes and architecture, etc., and also a man who sincerely cared for and loved his wife and children, which was returned in full. His son Thomas, also a doctor, had taken over the private medical practice at 928 Penn Ave. in his father's absence, and there is a bit of correspondence between the two of them. There only a few letters from 1892, from McCann's annual summer trip to Romney, WV (in one, dated July 11, Martha gives news on the Homestead Strike, the presence of 8,000 militia in the town, and the number of Pinkerton men wounded who were treated at West Pennsylvania hospital, where McCann practiced surgery). In February to April 1893, McCann spent time in Florida in another attempt to improve his failing health: there are 49 letters between him and Martha from this period, also a mixture of reportage on his medical condition, Martha's life in Pittsburgh with their young daughter Alice, and reports on Florida life and life in the therapeutic facility. He returned to Pittsburgh sometime in April and by June 13, 1893 was dead of a cerebral absess. On reading these letters, we felt as McCann's dear friend J. B. Murdoch did, when he penned these farwell lines to McCann: "I hope you will believe me when I say that as I grew to know you better, and more intimately, I also grew to respect and love you." Item #H11173

Price: $3,000.00

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