1. Pennsylvania Hospital 1838
2. Historical Medical Record
3. 19th Century Healthcare
4. Medical Examiner Philadelphia
5. Accident Data Analysis


The bustling streets of 19th-century America were as much a landscape of commerce and social interaction as they were a tableau of risks and accidents. The recent uncovering of a journal article published on December 20, 2023, paints a vivid picture of the medical challenges faced by citizens and medical professionals alike during this era. This article, found in the Medical Examiner of Philadelphia, provides a snapshot of the list of accidents admitted into the Pennsylvania Hospital from January 24th to February 7th, 1838. It highlights the kinds of injuries and accidents that were prevalent in Philadelphia over a two-week period, offering us a fascinating glimpse into the past.

The historical document (DOI: PMC10212318) was originally published in the Medical Examiner (Philadelphia, Pa.), under the title “List of Accidents Admitted into the Pennsylvania Hospital, from January 24th to February 7th, 1838.”

This period of roughly two weeks saw various injuries and trauma cases that required medical attention, ranging from broken limbs due to industrial mishaps to burns from primitive heating devices. The practical value of such a detailed report transcends mere records; it is a critical puzzle piece in understanding the health concerns and medical infrastructure of an era long gone. This narrative will elaborate on these findings and explore their implications in the context of medical history.

A Glimpse of Healthcare in the 19th Century

The period of January 24 to February 7, 1838, predated many of the advances in modern medicine that we take for granted today, including anesthesia and antiseptics. The Pennsylvania Hospital, the healthcare institution referenced in the report, was at the forefront of medical care at the time. Founded by Benjamin Franklin and Dr. Thomas Bond, it stood as one of the earliest examples of a hospital in the United States designed to care for the sick and injured regardless of their economic status. The list of accidents admitted provides an essential snapshot of the types of injuries that the hospital had to contend with in a rapidly industrializing society.

Types of Accidents and Common Injuries

According to the data presented in the journal entry, the Philadelphia area saw a wide range of incidents. Industrial accidents were common, reflecting the perils of burgeoning industries that operated without the safety regulations of our current era. Workers often faced life-threatening dangers, resulting in multiple admissions for crushed appendages or injuries attained from the perilous machinery. Domestic accidents also figured prominently in the records. Women and children frequently suffered burns from open hearths or boiling water—a stark reminder of the hazards in domestic life before the widespread implementation of modern heating and cooking technologies.

Medical Treatments of the Day

The medical treatments administered during this period were rudimentary by today’s standards, combining a mix of homespun remedies with emerging surgical techniques. The Pennsylvania Hospital was known for its relatively progressive approach to care, which included surgical interventions in certain cases. Fractures and deep lacerations, for example, were addressed with splints and sutures, and the concept of hospital convalescence for recovery was a revolutionary practice that underlined the emerging understanding of patient care.

The Role of the Medical Examiner

The role of the Medical Examiner (Phila) was vital in the 19th-century medical community. They compiled and disseminated case and treatment information, contributing to the gradual evolution of medical science. The journal played a pivotal role in sharing the latest medical findings from different hospitals, including accident reports like the one under discussion. These reports served to inform and sometimes caution the medical community about emerging trends and potential public health concerns.

Implications for Modern Medicine

While the 19th-century medical landscape was fraught with challenges, it set the stage for the development of many of the practices and safety regulations that now form the backbone of modern healthcare. Today’s hospital emergency rooms, trauma centers, and health and safety laws are all in many ways the legacy of the insights gained and the trials overcome during eras like the one captured in the 1838 report.

Data analysis from these historical records can inform current public health debates by showing the evolution of risk in society and how far we’ve come in terms of preventative measures and emergency medical response. While the types of accidents may have changed over time, reflecting technological and social shifts, the foundational doctrine of providing care and the relentless pursuit of better medical practices remain constant.


The discovery of the “List of Accidents Admitted into the Pennsylvania Hospital” offers more than just a raw tally of incidents; it provides an essential link to the past. We learn from our ancestors not only through their successes but also through their trials and tribulations. This 1838 report, now available for modern scrutiny, underscores the notion that healthcare is not a static field but one that evolves with society, and the lessons therein are as relevant today as they were over a century ago.


1. Pennsylvania Hospital History. (n.d.). Retrieved from [history of Pennsylvania Hospital website] 2. Warner, J.H., & Tighe, J.A. (2001). A Centennial History of the Pennsylvania Hospital, 1751-1851. PPublish.
3. Condran, G.A., & Murphy, J. (1990). The Changing Structure of Philadelphia Hospitals: 1870-1930. The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, 114(4), 527-554.
4. Rosenberg, C.E. (1987). The Care of Strangers: The Rise of America’s Hospital System. Johns Hopkins University Press.
5. Duffy, J. (1993). The Healers: A History of American Medicine. University of Illinois Press.

DOI: PMC10212318