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William Beaumont PapersAdd to your cart. | Bernard Becker Medical Library Archives

Title: William Beaumont PapersAdd to your cart.
ID: PC/PC001
Extent: 8.0 Linear Feet
Predominant Dates: 1807-1853
expand icon Arrangement
expand icon Biographical/Historical Note

William Beaumont was born on November 21, 1785 in Lebanon, Connecticut.  In 1810, he apprenticed himself to Dr. Benjamin Chandler of St. Albans, Vermont.  After serving two years as an apprentice, Beaumont was licensed by the Vermont Medical Society to practice medicine.  When the War of 1812 broke out between England and the United States, Beaumont joined the army as a surgeon’s mate where he served much of his time treating soldiers at York (now Toronto, Canada) and Plattsburgh, New York.  He resigned his commission from the army in 1815 and opened a private medical practice in Plattsburgh.

Beaumont rejoined the army in 1820, where he was granted the rank of post surgeon.  Before leaving for his new post at Michilimackinac (Mackinac Island) in Michigan, he married Deborah Platt Green.  While stationed at Fort Mackinac, he treated a French Canadian named Alexis St. Martin who had been accidentally shot in his left side.  Beaumont saved the patient’s life, but St. Martin’s wound healed with a permanent opening in his abdomen through which the interior of his stomach was exposed.  This accident, along with St. Martin’s cooperation during the following two decades, afforded Beaumont the opportunity to conduct experiments on the functions of the human stomach.  Beaumont eventually published the results of these investigations in Experiments and Observations on the Gastric Juice and the Physiology of Digestion, a landmark of American medical research.

Following his service in Michigan, Beaumont continued serving in the army where he was transferred to Fort Niagara (New York) in 1825, to Fort Crawford (Wisconsin) in 1829, and finally to Jefferson Baracks (Saint Louis, Missouri) in 1834.  While stationed in Missouri, he was appointed Professor of Surgery at the Medical Department of Saint Louis University in 1837.  Rather than be transferred again, Beaumont finally resigned from the army in 1839 at the age of fifty-two.  Upon his resignation, he remained in Saint Louis where he maintained a private practice until his death on April 25, 1853.

expand icon Access and Use Restrictions

The collection is open and accessible for research. 

Note that some letters included in the Beaumont Papers are typescripts or photocopies of the original documents which are located in other repositories, notably at Yale University. Most of the items in the first two boxes of Series 1 fall into this category. Users are advised to credit the holder of the originals when writing scholarly citations.


Users of the collection should read and abide by the Rights and Permissions guidelines at the Bernard Becker Medical Library Archives.

Users of the collection who wish to cite items from this collection, in whole or in part, in any form of publication must request, sign, and return a Statement of Use form to the Archives.

For detailed information regarding use of this collection, contact the Archives and Rare Book Department of the Becker Library (

Related Materials:

Name and place indexes for Series 1 of the Beaumont Papers were created to facilitate access to this collection.

Several editions of Experiments and Observations on the Gastric Juice and the Physiology of Digestion are cataloged and stored separately in the Rare Book collection at the Bernard Becker Medical Library.

Preferred Citation: [Item description, Box number, Folder number], William Beaumont Papers, Bernard Becker Medical Library Archives, Washington University School of Medicine.
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