Partly-Printed “Daily Journal for 1856”, kept by Joseph Sheppard M.D., likely of New Jersey, with entries dated 1855–1858, 1867, 1871, 1883, and 1893.

“I give him Sulphate of Quinine today…”


An interesting example of a daily journal with pre-printed date entries for 1856, but which has been used by the diarist over a span of many years. On the opening page, Joseph Sheppard, M.D. writes inks his name in a pointillism-like manner. There are also sporadic entries within that appear to be written in something resembling Morse code.

Sheppard’s 1855–1858 and, then, 1867, 1871, 1883, and 1893 entries are scant; when they are present, they are small and densely written:

Bo[ough]t this book to-day for next year. This is the first wintry day of 1855. We have had a very fair fall… ...there still is pasture for the cattle. Cows were foddered last year in the month [of] August. It has become quite common for farmers to save their stalks for this purpose, a few years ago they never thoiught of doing it. (December 10, 1855)

...Father slept soundly all [night] & is evidently better. Tongue clearing, but is quite weak & rather depressed in spirits, fearing his fever will recur as heretofore I give him Sulphate of Quinine today. Appetite poor. Attend ch[urch]. this m[or]n[in]g Dr. Kollock of Greenwich preached & also declared the pulpit vacant. ... (May 3, 1857)

...Went to Philad[elphi]a. Spent over $50 chiefly in instruments. Very tired tonight from walking so much. have been successful & should be thankful this night to the author of all my daily blessings, for my kind friends, for food raiment & a house for an occupation & above all for God’d most holy word & his unspeakable gift. (April 3, 1867)

The entry for February 22, 1857 is somber:

Call in to see bodies of two infants found dead in Elwin[?] Pond. They were tied up in a piece of bed tick. Supposed to have been first killed by wilful M. misconduct as discolored spots were seen about necks of each as if strangled ... fully grown, male + female, probably twins. Lungs brownish red like the liver + sank in water.

He enjoys reading:

Read some portion of the following books daily, viz.: Bible Shakespeare & Wood’s Practice of Medicine. From 5 to 5½ Bible. From Breakfast to Dinner, Wood. Afternoon. Miscellaneous reading & ½ hour after Supper Shakespeare. This systematic course to be kept until June 1. Evening I am obliged to let my eyes rest. (May 12, 1856)

Sheppard makes occasional entries which provide additional insight into his reading habits. There are mentions of “Harper’s Magazine,” “Goldsmith,” “Spectator,” “History of William the Conqueror,” “the History of King Alfred of England series by Jacob Abbott,” and “Letters & Diary of Amos Lawrence.” In other places he copies out quotations from Sydney Smith and Samuel Johnson.

Years later, in 1871 and again in 1883 and 1893, Sheppard picks up his diary to note the passage of time. He comments how his hair is turning white and his beard gray.

A rear “Cash Account” section has entries for medicine (tuning fork, entry to a “Surgery Convention”, a [medical] lecture, ointment), books, and food such as almonds and ice cream.

We believe a reasonable attribution to this Dr. Sheppard would be seen in this profile from the Transactions of the Medical Society of New Jersey, as follows:

Dr. Sheppard, the son of the late Henry and Sarah Sheppard, was born in Bridgeton, N. J., June 28th, 1823, and died October 23d, 1902. He received his preliminary education at the local schools, and subsequently at Newark, Del. He began the reading of medicine under the late Dr. William Elmer, and after attending a three years’ course at the University of Pennsylvania graduated at that institution April, 1849. After practicing, for a short time only, at May’s Landing, he returned to Bridgeton, but was soon appointed to the position of assistant physician to the department for the insane at the Philadelphia Hospital, then called “Blockley Almshouse.” This position he retained for one year, and was appointed a resident physician to the hospital proper. In 1863 he was appointed acting assistant surgeon of U. S. volunteers, and was assigned to the general hospital at Chestnut Hill, remaining in active duty till close of the war, when he resumed active practice in his native town. For ten years he was physician to the county almshouse and jail, performing his duties with great satisfaction, as evidenced by his renewed appointments. He was a member of the medical examining pension board for the lower counties of the State until a short time before his death, when failing health compelled him to resign.

Again, the written entries in this journal are thin throughout, but when present, they are dense and compact; within an interesting partly-printed, commercially-produced blank book.


Description: Partly-Printed “Daily Journal for 1856”, kept by Joseph Sheppard M.D., likely of New Jersey, with entries dated 1855–1858, 1867, 1871, 1883, and 1893.

New York. “Published Annually by Kiggins & Kellogg, Publishers, Blank Book Manufacturers, and Wholesale Booksellers and Stationers, No. 88 John Street, New-York.” Square 8vo. Very generally, approximately [15] pages with scant to moderate entries, in ink, but written in a tiny concise hand. “Joseph Sheppard M.D.” to top of title-page. Black roan strip spine, marbled boards, printed label to upper cover. Partly-printed lined, blue leaves; an advertisement leaf for other diaries sold by this firm, partially covered by a 19th century clipping. General binding wear; some leaves torn out; internally, very good.

[3726102]

Price: $75.00