Loyalist Collection, Health and Medicine Guide

Essential Information

Why Use This Guide?

This guide seeks to provide a sample of the wide variety of materials relating to health and medicine in The Loyalist Collection at the Harriet Irving Library, with an overview of what they contain and how to search them. Though the study of Loyalists is the primary focus of the collection, the selected materials transcend beyond the American Revolution to provide an overview of health and medicine c.1750 and 1850 in the British Atlantic world. With geographic coverage spanning from Canada to the West Indies, the sources provide a firsthand view of the diseases faced, medical treatments, and impact of health on daily life during that time.

Types of Materials: Primary and Secondary

Primary materials are sources usually created at the time of an event and involve first-hand accounts of historical events without secondary analysis or interpretation. These include personal records of individual doctors, health regulations in cities and towns, military health records, and other papers such as account books, and government records, to name a few. Secondary sources offer an analysis, description, or interpretation of a primary resource; and often provide the historical context. For example, if a diary were the primary resource, the secondary resource could be an article explaining the significance and context of the diary; or if a personal letter during the American Revolution were the primary resource, the secondary resource could be a book or encyclopedia article about the American Revolution.

Understanding Military Material

A large number of the records in this subject guide pertain to the British military. These military records provide insight into the organization of hospitals, the wellbeing of soldiers, and the diseases rampant during the period. Unfortunately military records may be difficult to understand due to their organization and the wide variety of ranks associated with them. Researchers are encouraged to consult "The British Officer: His Position, Duties, Emoluments, and Privileges…” by Joachim Hayward Stocqueler for helpful information on this topic. Please note, this monograph is also available in full electronic text through Internet Archive.

Early Medicine Bottles

Image via Wikimedia Commons, original uploader was Deepestbluesea at English Wikipedia

(Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons.) [Public domain]




Background Research

Background Research

The following reference sources act as a starting point for researchers looking to familiarize themselves with health and medicine in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.  Reference sources, such as subject-specific encyclopedias, dictionaries, and bibliographies provide an overview of a topic and its related issues, help define unfamiliar terms, and contain key secondary sources.  Aside from the selected sources below, researchers may wish to consult Reference Universe as well, which will provide links to reference books in print and online in the library system.

Search Reference Universe:

Due to system limitations, Reference Universe is not available to off-campus students at UNBSJ.

Encyclopedia of the North American Colonies
Author: Cooke, Jacob Earnest
Abstract: A three-volume set that discusses various aspects of the European colonies in North America including labour systems, technology, religion, and racial interaction. Search the terms almshouses, disease, military (hospitals, diseases), medical practice, and medicine societies.
Call Number: HIL-REF E45 .E53 1993 v.1-3

A Guide to Health Care History Materials in New Brunswick
Author: Liebenberg, Gillian and Arlee McGee
Call Number: HIL-SPECAR RA450 .N49 L54 1998

Groundbreaking Scientific Experiments, Inventions, and Discoveries of the 18th Century
Author: Shectman, Jonathan
Abstract: The eighteenth century saw the emergence of the industrial and chemical revolutions and witnessed the near-universal acceptance of applied science. It was a time of revolutionary, lasting transformation in the practice of science and mathematics. Most procedures and precepts of modern science took hold during the eighteenth century, when scientists first paired scientific research with practical application to astonishing results. In over sixty alphabetical entries, Shectman examines the tremendous scientific discoveries, inventions, and inquiries of the period. Search terms such as: dental drill, digestion, and smallpox for more information on health and medicine.
Call Number: ebook

Primary Material

These primary sources provide a sample of materials relating to health and medicine found in The Loyalist Collection. A broad range of subject matter and a wide geographic area are coved in the sources.  Click on the title links for further information pertaining to a specific collection, particularly the Finding Aid sections within for any indexes, etc. that may be available to assist research.

Materials are listed alphabetically by call number within sections denoted by various subtopics. These sections are listed as follows:
Doctors' Records
Family and Individual Health
Military Health
Public Health


John Clarkson.  Papers: 1787-1853
Call Number MIC-Loyalist FC LFR .C5J6P3
Keywords: American Revolution post-settlement, Black Loyalists, Nova Scotia, Sierra Leone
After the American Revolution, John Clarkson joined a small group of reformers who were behind the growing opposition to the slave trade. Between 1791 and 1792 Clarkson organized the historic migration of 1190 Black Loyalists from Halifax, Nova Scotia, to Sierra Leone. Clarkson worked with Thomas Peters, a prominent Black Loyalist, to organize this movement. Volume IV includes a Register of Medical Cases among the Black Loyalists in Sierra Leone, 1791-1792, and a private journal which appears to have been kept by the surgeon to the Colony between 1791 and 1792.

John Jeffries.  Papers: 1755-1835
Call Number:MIC-Loyalist FC LFR .J4J4P3
Keywords: Boston, Halifax, hospital administration, surgeon
The papers of Dr. Jeffries follow his life during his career as a physician assisting the British Army hospitals during the American Revolution. Records include his personal diary, military orderly book, accounts, appointments, and letters. Medical staff appointments, details of sick and wounded soldiers, concern for the wellbeing of soldiers and prisoners, and additional hospital administrative records are prominent within his papers. Researchers may also be interested in Jeffries' work as an avid balloonist.

William Paine.  Papers: 1768-1835
Call Number: MIC-Loyalist FC LFR .P3W5P3
Keywords: apothecary, American Revolution, diseases, doctor, Lisbon (Portugal), London (England), Massachusetts, medicine, New York, treatments and cures
Dr. William Paine studied and practiced in Salem, Worcester, New York, Portugal, London, and Halifax. Documents include prescriptions, lists of cures, journals, diaries, memorandum, payments received for medical services, treatments, and various other medical records.



Remarks and Rough Memorandum: Captain William Booth, Corps of Royal Engineers, Shelburne, Nova Scotia, 1787, 1789
Call Number: HIL-MICGDL FC 2349 .S55 B65 2008
Keywords: Corps of Engineers, Doctor Drummond, Hannah Booth, tuberculosis, William Booth, medicines and treatments administered, mental wellbeing, rashes, stomach illness, “nervous fever” (tuberculosis), treatments and remedies, military hospitals, and pains.
This monograph contains the transcribed memorandums (brief, diary-like entries) of Captain William Booth. Entries on health, medicine, and wellbeing are prominent. Booth mentions illnesses by name, often describing their symptoms and prescribed treatments. He made note of his personal wellbeing in “memo[s]”. His friendship with Dr. Drummond, as well as his wife's (Hannah) illness, provides the bulk of content on health and wellness. Researchers are encouraged to browse the memorandums in addition to using the index. Entries on pages 28-37 chronicle Mrs. Booth’s illness, treatments, and death in February of 1789.

Great Britain.  Audit Office.  American Loyalist Claims: Series II (AO 13): 1780-1835
Call Number: MIC-Loyalist FC LPR .G7A9C5L7
Keywords: disabilities, hospitals, military injuries, post settlement, smallpox, widow/widower
The Audit Office series relates to claims for compensation submitted by persons who had suffered losses during the American Revolution due to their loyalty to the British Crown. These claims contain supporting papers such as: affidavits, property deeds and wills, descriptions and valuations of property, correspondence, etc. It may also include information pertaining to their families, their places of residence, and their experiences in America, as a Loyalist, or victim of hostilities.


Edward Winslow.  Papers: 1695-1866
Call Number: MIC-Loyalist FC LFR .W5E3P3
Keywords: indisposition, medical board, military hospitals
This collection consists primarily of the notebooks and correspondence of Edward Winslow. Researchers interested in the study of health and medicine will find medical documents primarily related to the military during the American Revolution and the subsequent early New Brunswick settlements. Using the alphabetical index for the collection (FC LFR .W5E3P3 Index) search terms such as: diseases, ailments, indispositions, hospitals, military hospitals, doctors, medical board, medicine and remedies, and Paine (Dr.).

Frederick Haldimand.   Papers and Correspondence: 1758-1784
Call Number: MIC-Loyalist FC LMR .H3F7P3
Keywords: doctors, expenses, infirmaries, hospitals, housing for the sick, health issues of soldiers, medical supplies, medicine, surgeons
Frederick Haldimand was a Swiss-German who transferred into the British 60th Regiment where he was involved during the French and Indian War, becoming a Colonel. He held the following commands: military governor of Trois Rivières (1762-64), Québec; military command of East and West Florida (1765-73); acting commander-in-chief of North America (1773-74); and governor of Québec, which included Ontario, (1778-84). This collection is very extensive in its geography, spanning from Florida northward to Québec and even the West Indies.

Great Britain.  War Office.  Headquarters Records, Great Britain.  America (WO28/2-10): 1775-1785
Call Number:MIC-Loyalist FC LMR .G7W3A4H4
Keywords: hospital administration, leave of absence, medicines, surgeon
This collection, in broad terms, contains the paperwork received by the adjutant-general or deputy adjutant-general at the British military headquarters in Canada (Québec), from officers in the field and others during the American Revolution. Some documents relating to health and medicine include: general hospital returns and letters, medicines, appointments of surgeons, diet for sick, and reports of sick.

Great Britain.  War Office.  In-Letters:  America and West Indies (WO1/683): 1776-1781
Call Number: MIC-Loyalist FC LMR .G7W3A4I7
Keywords: hospital administration, medical supplies, West Indies
British War Office 1 contains the letters and enclosures from officers in America to the Secretary at War. Volume 683 contains letters from Lord George Germain, Secretary of State for the Colonies to Secretary at War, Viscount Barrington, concerning American affairs, which includes the West Indies. The correspondence contains a great amount of detail about the transport of regiments, camp equipage, hospital supplies, horses and forage, clothing, and other provisions that were loading or had sailed from several British ports. Specific to health matters, pages 313-653 deal with the administration of military hospitals during the American Revolution; and within this range, pages 415-653 deal with the West Indies and the excessive sickness therein owing to the want of medical stores and clothing.

Great Britain.  War Office.  In-Letters:  America and West Indies (WO1/1-13): 1755-1785
Call Number: MIC-Loyalist FC LMR .G7W3A4I5
Keywords: diseases, hospital administration, medicine lists, provisions
These volumes contain the letters and enclosures from officers in America to the Secretary at War in England dealing with military affairs. Documents relating to health and medicine include hospital returns/ lists, hospital information (nurses, expenses, admissions, discharges, deaths), hospital orders, medicines for troops, provision lists, living conditions of soldiers, lists of sick, information on the health of soldiers, etc.

Great Britain.  War Office. Muster Books and Pay Lists (WO12/11233, 11237-11238): Royal West India Rangers: 1806-1814
Call Number: MIC-Loyalist FC LMR .G7W3R79

Keywords: West Indies, army, soldiers, health, deaths, hospital, accounts

Muster rolls were prepared for each company of a regiment for the purpose of paying the soldiers recording the name, rank, military station, and pay period of each soldier. The Royal West India Rangers were mainly used for garrison duties in the West Indies, and the regiment also saw action in two invasions of the French island of Guadeloupe.  In 1819, the regiment was disbanded to New Brunswick.  The personel data includes: in hospital; attending hospital; died; and deserted.  In the early years there are slips of paper with names of those discharged and the medical reason deemed unfit.  In relation to soldiers’ accounts, the Statement of the effects and debts of soldiers who have deserted from, or died…includes the soldiers’ amount of hospital clearance.  



Great Britain. War Office.  Out-Letters: Secretary at War: American Letter Books (WO4/273-276, 987-988): 1763-1790
Call Number: MIC-Loyalist FC LMR .G7W3S4A5O9
Keywords: hospital--military; hospital--administration of during the American Rebellion, allowances, stoppages, medical personnel, sickness in the West Indies, need for medicines, losses suffered, hospitals, health of troops (including provisions), hospital accounts, etc.
This collection contains the Secretary at War's correspondence to his colonial representatives, such as, the commanders, officials and officers in North America, and the West Indies.  Typically the Secretary is replying to a request of some sort, or giving direction or comments on matters pertaining to the army.




A Report of the Record Commissioners of the City of Boston, Containing the Boston Town Records, 1770-1777
Call Number: HIL-MICGDL F73 .4 .B747 1887
Keywords: Almshouse, disease, hospitals, inoculation, laws (preventing infectious disease), orders (concerning infectious disease),  plague, smallpox.
This book contains transcriptions of the Boston town records. These proceedings include the resolves, instructions, and reports of Boston as it established itself prior to the Revolutionary War. Those interested in the study of health and medicine will find information on preventing the spread of diseases, primarily smallpox, in the 1770s. These records tie into aspects such as the poor, cleanliness, the Navy, and slaves.

America.  Public Records.  Selected Cases of the Mayor's Court of New York City: 1674-1768, 1784
Call Number: MIC-Loyalist FC LPR .A4P8C6N6C6
Keywords: almshouse, children and infants, hospitals, New York, poor, smallpox
These records provide select information on health and wellbeing in New York City. Researchers interested in the study of health and medicine should use the index to search terms such as: diseases, health regulations, persons unable to support themselves (primarily due to disabilities or ailments), and midwives.

New Brunswick.  Executive Council.  Papers: 1784-1877
Call Number:MIC-Loyalist FC LPR .N4E9P3
Keywords: almshouse, Department of Health and Wellbeing, disabled, Health Board, overseers of the poor, seamen
The papers of the New Brunswick Executive Council contain topics which came to the attention of the Executive Council or emanated from that body. Those interested in the study of health and medicine will primarily find nineteenth century records pertaining to the Department of Health and Wellness including general correspondences and papers, the health and sickness of seamen, and documents relating to the poor. NOTE: These papers provide insight into the kinds of records available in Executive Councils records. Researchers interested in studying health and medicine in another area should look at the corresponding Executive Council records for their region of interest.

Nova Scotia.  Court of the General Quarter Sessions of the Peace Shelburne County. Records: 1784-1880
Call Number:MIC-Loyalist FC LPR .N6C6S4S5R4
KEYWORDS: caretaking, charity, expenses (regarding public health and safety), illegitimate children, overseers of the poor, poor and disabled, regulations
These records provide a sample of the kinds of documents relating to health and medicine available in county court records. Records include, but are not limited to: petitions for funeral expenses, accounts of provisions to the poor, conditions of the poor house, compensation for providing care, notes on illegitimate children, notes on the mentally unstable, and health regulations - primarily to prevent infectious disease (smallpox), etc.



Catalogue Searching

Catalogue Searching:  WorldCat and The Loyalist Collection

When searching by keyword in WorldCat for books, journals, articles, etc., or in The Loyalist Collection catalogue for primary sources, depending on your topic, you can search, for example, by a particular disease, place, or person.

The Loyalist Collection

Remember you are searching the summaries of each of the titles typically, often with no subject search fields as in WorldCat; consequently, you are advised to check the Finding Aid fields within a record for any detailed content.

Suggested Loyalist Collection search terms include:

  • apothecary
  • casualty
  • disease
  • doctor/Dr.
  • drug/druggist
  • health
  • hospital
  • invalid
  • medicine/medical
  • smallpox
  • surgeon/surgery
  • wound/wounded

Finding microfilm:  The Loyalist Collection is on the 3rd floor of the Harriet Irving Library and shelved into 5 sections: Church (LCR), Family (LFR), Military (LMR), Public (government) (LPR), and Special Collections (LSC). See floor plan.

Reading call numbers:  MIC-Loyalist FC LFR .B7E3L4 is located in the Loyalist Collection on microfilm, in the Family Records section (LFR). “.B7E3L4” represents the call number within that section.


In the Libraries' catalogue you can combine your search terms, for example,

suggested WorldCat searches include:

  • Diseases - Canada - History
  • Disease Outbreaks - History
  • Great Britain - Army Medical Department - History
  • Great Britain - Army Medical Services - History
  • Great Britain - Colonies - History
  • History of Medicine
  • Medicine - Europe - History - 18th Century
  • Medicine - History - 18th Century
  • Medicine - United States - History
  • Medical Care
  • Naval Medicine - Great Britain - History
  • Smallpox

 See how to search UNB WorldCat to find relevant books in this short video.

Further Reading

These futher reading sources seek to provide researchers with more information on topics relating to health and medical materials in The Loyalist Collection.  For more options, researchers may want to perform a title, subject, or keyword search in the Library's catalogue, WorldCat, to find books, journals, articles, etc. Remember to utilise the footnotes and bibliographies within your secondary sources, books for example, to point you in the direction of key sources on your topic.

Search UNB WorldCat:     

Advanced Search | Locations Guide | Help


The Medical Profession in Upper Canada, 1783-1850. An historical narrative, with original documents relating to the profession, including some brief biographies
Author: Canniff, William
Call Number: HIL-STACKS R463 .O6 C2 1894

A History of the Army Medical Department
Author: Cantlie, Neil, Sir.
Call Number: HIL-STACKS UH 257 .C36 1974 v.1

Materials and Medicine: Trade, Conquest, and Therapeutics in the Eighteenth Century
Author: Chakrabarti, Pratik
Call Number: HIL-STACKS R148 C43 2010

Medicine in Colonial Massachusetts, 1620-1820: a Conference Held 25 & 26 May 1978
Author: Colonial Society of Massachusetts
Call Number: HIL-STACKS R245 .M42 1980

Frontier Medicine: From the Atlantic to the Pacific, 1491-1941
Author: Dary, David
Call Number: HIL-STACKS R151 .D37 2009

Epidemics in Colonial America
Author: Duffy, John
Call Number: HIL-STACKS RA 650.5 D8 1972

The Duties of a Regimental Surgeon Considered with Observations on his General Qualifications... By R. Hamilton, M.D.
Author: Hamilton, Robert
Call Number: ebook

Health and Medicine at Sea, 1700-1900
Author: Haycock, David Boyd and Sally Archer
Call Number:HIL-STACKS RC 986 .H43 2009

British Military and Naval Medicine, 1600-1830
Author: Hudson, Geoffrey L.
Call Number: ebook

Surgeons at War: Medical Arrangements for the Treatment of the Sick and Wounded in the British Army... 18th and 19th Centuries
Author: Kaufman, Matthew H.
Call Number: HIL-STACKS UH 258 18th .K38 2001

Health Care in Canada During the 17th and 18th Centuries
Author: Lessard, Renald
Call Number: HIL-GOV FN345 H434ca

Surgeons, Smallpox, and the Poor: A History of Medicine and Social Conditions in Nova Scotia, 1749-1799
Author: Marble, Allan Everett
Call Number: ebook

Medicine and the American Revolution: How Diseases and Their Treatments Affected the Colonial Army
Author: Reiss, Oscar
Call Number: HIL-STACKS E 283 .R45 1998

Inter-library loans: Books and other materials not available at UNB may be available for loan from another institution through our document delivery service. To search for materials not held by UNB Libraries, try UNB World Cat, and change the default "UNB Libraries" to "Libraries Worldwide." Once you have identified a title that is not locally held, select the "Request Item through Document Delivery" link.

To browse the shelves for books relating to health and medicine, try the following ranges in the stacks or the Loyalist Collection guide books (HIL-MICGDL):

  • HIL-STACKS 4th floor - 'R'


External Resources

External Resources

The following list of external resources was compiled to provide relevant electronic research tools to compliment the other materials referenced within this guide.


The National Archives Health Subject Guide acts as a gateway to health records available through The National Archives, London, England. These records have a much wider time frame than The Loyalist Collection, spanning from the eighteenth to twentieth century, as well as a wider geographic area of coverage.

More Information

Subject Specialties:
Atlantic Provinces History, New Brunswick History, Loyalists, Genealogy, Palaeography, Working With Primary Sources, Newspapers