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The College of Physicians of Philadelphia Digital Library

Dr. Israel Wilson smallpox inoculation logbook

Dr. Israel Wilson smallpox inoculation logbook

Inoculation manuscript written in Dr. Israel Wilson’s hand. The first manuscript is dated from December, 1792, and describes Dr. Wilson’s inoculations for smallpox among patients in Jamestown, Rhode Island. In the winter of 1792-93, Israel Wilson (II) while in training under Dr. Irish of Newport, Rhode Island, participated in a series of smallpox inoculations in Jamestown not too far from Newport. There were regular inoculations in Jamestown because in 1790 on a small island of its coast in Narragansett Bay the state had located Coasters Island Hospital. It was used to isolate those who had smallpox. Rhode Island had been inoculating for smallpox since 1765. This medical booklet was a part of Israel Wilson’s personal possessions that were inventoried at sea from his trunk after he died as the ship’s doctor in 1793.

Dr. Israel Wilson (II) was born in 1767 and was the first son of Israel Wilson (I) and Pamela Darling Wilson. His father was a clothier in Mendon, MA, where he and his wife owned land that they had purchased from the Darling family. In 1770 Israel Wilson (I) purchased three acres of land with a corn mill, house and shop located on Quindic Pond in Coventry, Rhode Island. Shortly thereafter he established a “fulling” or cloth finishing mill on this land. This purchase was the first of many which established the Wilson family in the textile manufacturing trade for three generations in the Coventry area. Israel Wilson (I) died in 1774. In 1789 Israel Wilson (II) sold his inherited land to his younger brother Joseph and entered medical training under Dr. Charles Irish of Newport, Rhode Island rather than continuing in the family business. In the Spring of 1793 after completing his medical training under Dr. Irish, Dr. Israel Wilson (II) signed onto the slave trading ship Ascension as the ship’s doctor. The ship was bound for Madagascar to obtain slaves. Dr. Israel Wilson died at sea on the return voyage during the late Fall of 1793.

Contributed by anonymous

Smallpox inoculation logbook