The College of Physicians of Philadelphia


Eighteenth-Century Manuscripts on the College Website

The Library of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia is pleased to announce the availability, through its website (, of two fully searchable 18th-century Pennsylvania manuscripts:

(1) A bilingual (German and English) formulary, the Medicina Pensylvania of George de Benneville, a French Huguenot physician, (2) Remediorum Specimina, the record of the practice and recipes of Abraham Wagner, a Schwenckfelder practitioner from Silesia.

The manuscripts can be dated roughly to the period 1740 to 1780. Both drew on numerous 18th-century continental European and English sources-explicitly in the case of the Wagner manuscript and unacknowledged in the Medicina Pensylvania-and both offer copious and often highly technical recipes from the armamentarium of chemical and botanical substances that were in general use at the end of the early modern period. Similar to other physician manuals of the period, they lay out medicinals and related procedures for treatment of major diseases and conditions. Medicina Pensylvania is held by the College Library, and Remediorum Specimina belongs to the Schwenkfelder Library of Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

The objective of this project, supported by grants from the National Library of Medicine and the Humboldt Stiftung of Germany, is to make accessible a body of writings that offer insight into some of the lesser known medical resources available to the North American colonial population. The principal investigator, responsible for this project, is Prof. Renate Wilson of the Bloomberg School of Public Health at the Johns Hopkins University. The work was initiated at the College of Physicians by Charles Greifenstein, now at the American Philosophical Society. After Mr. Greifenstein left the College of Physicians, the technical work was completed by Laura Blanchard, executive director of the Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collection Libraries. One can also go directly to the manuscripts, whose URL is If you go directly to this website, please click on “about the manuscripts” for instruction on how to make best use of the digitized editions and for further information about the project.