Darwin DeForrest Douglas Papers Open to Research

By , May 8, 2018

The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to announce that the D. DeForrest (Darwin DeForrest) Douglass papers, 1820-1901 (inclusive), 1850-1900 (bulk), are open to research.

Darwin DeForrest Douglas (1828-1902) was an entrepreneur and artificial limb designer and maker during the last half of the nineteenth century. He began as a workman for Benjamin Franklin Palmer (b. 1828) and left Palmer’s company to start his own. Palmer was one of the first makers of prosthetic limbs in the United States, working with a design that had been created in England after the Napoleonic Wars.

Douglass was never a major maker of artificial limbs and did not establish his own company. He continued to work on his leg design, refit old legs, and provide new ones until the 1890s.

The papers include correspondence and financial records that reflect Douglass’s personal and professional lives. Correspondence and bills relating to his wife, Susan, and daughter, Jennie Grace, are included here as well as correspondence relating to Douglass’s professional work as a prosthetist. Financial records include household, personal, and professional items such as sheet music (presumably for Jennie Grace Douglass who was a student at the New England Conservatory of Music), wood, paint, clothing, food (tea, sugar, flour, vegetables, meat, milk, etc.), as well as promissory notes, bills for rentals, gas, coal, and ice bills, and property tax records.

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