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Ethan S. Williams, M.D.


Ethan S. Williams was born in Cincinnati 12 April 1810. He was raised in Cincinnati and began his medical studies there with a preceptor, O.M. Herron, M.D. In 1837 Williams graduated from the Medical College of Ohio, where he was much influenced by John Eberle, M.D. (1787-1838), at the time professor of the theory and practice of medicine. Soon after graduation, Williams was appointed resident physician at the Commercial Hospital in Cincinnati, a post he held one year.

In the spring of 1838, he began the practice of medicine in Cincinnati. Williams teaching career apparently began in the summer of 1842, when he was chosen to deliver a course of lectures on materia medica and pathology at the Medical College of Ohio. The lectures were delivered for three consecutive summers. (The printed advertisement for this course is in Folder 4.) At this time Williams joined the faculty of the short-lived Cincinnati Medical Institute, and it is to the students of this institution that George Mendenhall, M.D. (1814-1874) directs the eulogy in Folder 1. Mendenhall maintains that Williams was an avid student of pathology and particularly versed in diseases of the chest. Ironically, Williams contracted pulmonary tuberculosis, manifested symptoms of its third and final stage in July 1846, and died on Friday the 17th, attended by his mother.

The Williams manuscripts were donated to the Edward G. Miner Library in 2009 by Edward C. Atwater, M.D., of Rochester, N.Y. Their provenance is undetermined. They had been gathered posthumously (hence the presence of Mendenhall’s eulogy) and placed in a portfolio bearing Williams’ name on a leather cover label. The collection has been arranged in four categories: general materials (folders 1-3); medical manuscripts (folders 4-14), non-medical manuscripts (folders 15-27); and drafts of short stories (folders 28-33). The collection is contained in a single document box.

Inventory of the Papers


  • Folder 1: George Mendenhall’s eulogy of Ethan S. Williams (July 24, 1846)
  • Folder 2: Random leaves from E.S.W.’s journal (ca. 1832-37)
  • Folder 3: End of year reflections (183?-184?)

Medical Manuscripts

  • Folder 4: Advertisement for lecture courses at the Medical College of Ohio
  • Folder 5: ‘Lecture 1st” on chemistry (undated)
  • Folder 6: Lectures on materia medica and pathology (undated)
  • Folder 7: “Notes of address before N.I.S. 1841”
  • Folder 8: “What is the origin of disease and death? Read in March 1840 before N.I.S.”
  • Folder 9: “Hydrocephalus of children” (undated)
  • Folder 10: Three lectures on menstruation disorders (undated)
  • Folder 11: Essay on erroneous medical systems (undated)
  • Folder 12: “Case of ulceration and perforation of the gall bladder …” (undated)
  • Folder 13: “Written for Dr. S.D. Gross on request” [case report] (undated)
  • Folder 14: Miscellaneous medical manuscripts

Non-Medical Manuscripts

  • Folder 15: “On the cultivation of the intellectual faculties. Written in boyhood” (undated)
  • Folder 16: “Miss Helen S. Bugelly of Hartford County, Md. July 24, 1832” [eulogy]
  • Folder 17: “Obituary notice of Chas. A. Skinner [?]” (1834?)
  • Folder 18: “An address political” (undated)
  • Folder 19: “How far is the present missionary system worthy of the support of the members of the N.C?” (undated)
  • Folder 20: “Remarks on the political philosophy of Volney” (undated)
  • Folder 21: “Character of Nero” (undated)
  • Folder 22: “Thoughts of an evening” [after the death of a four year old patient] (undated)
  • Folder 23: Essay on temperance (undated)
  • Folder 24: “Visit to a pensionless soldier of the Revolution” (undated)
  • Folder 25: “On novel reading” (undated)
  • Folder 26: Miscellaneous correspondence
  • Folder 27: Miscellaneous non-medical manuscripts

Drafts of short stories

  • Folder 28: “Fraternal influence” (undated)
  • Folder 29: Untitled love story (undated)
  • Folder 30: Untitled romance (undated)
  • Folder 31: Untitled story with a Spanish theme (undated)
  • Folder 32: A letter from Hantippus to Praxiphanes (undated)
  • Folder 33: Front board (with label) of the original portfolio in which these documents were stored