Biographical Note

Hiram Corson, MD, was born in 1804 in Plymouth Township to Joseph and Hannah Dickinson Corson. He was married to Ann Jones Foulke in 1833 and had nine children with her. He studied medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Corson was an early detractor of the medical use of alcohol and an active abolitionist. He took on his niece, Sarah Adamson (later Dr. Sarah Adamson Dolley) as an apprentice. After she earned her medical degree, he supported her application to Blockley Hospital in Philadelphia. Dr. Corson was widely published and honored by many professional societies, including the American Medical Association and College of Physicians of Philadelphia. At the end of his life, Dr. Corson was thought to be the oldest practicing physician in the United States. He retired from medicine in 1895 and died in 1896.

Alan W. Corson, Hiram’s brother, was born in Whitemarsh, Pa. in 1788. He was a polymath and school teacher, first at Plymouth Meeting Friends School, then at his own boarding and day school. In his mid-life, he stopped teaching and worked on his extensive farm while also working as a land surveyor. He was married to Mary Egbert in 1811, and they had five children. Alan W. Corson was a strict Quaker who wore their tradition plain clothes. He should not be confused with his grandson with the same name. He died in 1882.

Scope and Content

This collection of papers contains several volumes of Dr. Corson’s diaries, his published works, correspondence (personal and professional), and notes. There are also newspaper clippings of Dr. Corson’s writings and on topics that were of interest to him, particularly female physicians and care of the insane. Corson was a champion of asylum reform and promoted women in medicine, and many of his writings, correspondence, and newspaper clippings concern these issues. His published writings consists of medical treatises on pneumonia, diphtheria, and cholera. In addition to Dr. Hiram Corson’s papers, there are some papers belonging to his uncle, Alan W. Corson, which consist mainly of correspondence. There is a small group of papers relating to the Montgomery County Anti-Slavery Society.