Skip Navigation Bar


The Library acquired some dictionaries through the "Father of American Physiology." British-born and educated, Robley Dunglison had spent his career in the United States, most notably as professor of medicine and medical jurisprudence at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia. Dunglison wrote more than 50 medical works during his lifetime, including several editions of his Medical Lexicon.

In the Lexicons, Dunglison provided synonyms for medical terms and substances as well as foreign-language translations and word derivations. He acquired a large collection of various dictionaries in his research, many of which Dunglison's son Richard offered to Billings in 1872.

Richard Dunglison would sell over 300 medical and non-medical dictionaries along with 40 volumes of pamphlets at a set price of $135.00. Though Billings did not buy the entire group, he acquired at least a few of the dictionaries.

Title page of book with sepia toned paper, text in black, as follows: Sale of valuable medical books, Davis and Harvey, auctioneers. Catalogue of valuable medical library of the late Prof. Robley Dunglison, including Agassiz's Contributions to Natural History, American Journal of Medical Science, 71 vols; British Foreign Medical Chirurgical Review, 72 vols; Morton's Crania Americana, Pettigrew's Medical Portrait Gallery, Sydenham Society Publications, Sydenham Society Atlas of 43 Portraits, and other valuable Works. Also, superior James Smith microscope, to be sold at public sale, on Thursday and Friday evenings, October 31st and November 1st, 1872, at 7 o'clock, precisely, at the auction store, 48 & 50 north Sixth street, below Arch street, Philadelphia. Davis & Harvey, Auct'rs. Gentleman unable to attend may have their orders faithfully executed by the Auctioneers. Selheimer, Printer, 501 Chestnut Street.

Catalogue of Valuable Medical Library of the Late Prof. Robley Dunglison, 1872. When the Dunglison's library was offered for auction, Richard Dunglison held back several books and offered them to Billings for the Library.

Title page of book, text in black, as follows: Cocker's English Dictionary, containing, an explanation of the most Refined and Difficult Words and Terms in Divinity, Philosophy, Law, Physick, Mathematicks, Navigation, Husbandry, Military Discipline, with other Arts and Sciences; And the Derivation of them from the Hebrew, Greek, Latin, Italian, Spanish, French, and other Languages. Likewise, Historical Remarks upon the Lives and Actions of Emperors, Popes, Kings, Queens, Princes, with a great number of other Persons of Note, both in the former and latter Ages of the World. With Brief Observations upon the Reign of every English Monarch from King William the Conqueror to this Time. Also a short View of what is Considerable in every County of England and Wales. With Variety of other Memorable Matters. A Work very Necessary for all Persons, who desire to understand the Affairs of the World, as well as the Language and Transactions of their own Country. By Edward Cocker, the late Famous Practitioner in Writing and Arithmetick. Publish'd from the Aurhot's Copy: And in this Second Edition very much Enlarged and Altered: by John Hawkins. The like never yet Extant. Omne tulit punctum qui miscuit utile dulci. He certainly doth hit the White, Who mingles Profit with Delight. London: Printed for T. Norris at the Looking-glass on London-Bridge, C. Brown at the Crown in Newgate-street, and A. Bettesworth at the Red Lyon in Pater-noster-row, 1715.
Blank page with handwritten inscription in ink, as follows: Robley Dunglison Feby 26 1859.

Cocker's English Dictionary, by Edward Cocker, 1715. This dictionary was owned by Robley Dunglison who used it to research word origins in his Medical Lexicons.

Full page of text from Cocker's dictionary. The headings on the page are: Phi, Phl, Pia. There is no page number.
Excerpt from page of text, which reads: Philadelphia, g. brotherly Love; a City of Myssia in Asia the Less: Also another City in Pensylvania in the West-Indies, an English Colony belonging to William Pen the Quaker.

From Cocker's English Dictionary, by Edward Cocker, 1715. Richard Dunglison mentioned to Billings that this particular dictionary, produced in England during America's colonial period, contained an interesting definition of Pennsylvania.

Next Section > >

SGO label decoration
Photographic portrait, in black and white, of Robley Dunglison. Image of an elderly man in a business suit, has a beard, is sitting at a table, posed in a three quarter view, resting his face on one hand in a thoughtful pose.

Robley Dunglison (1798-1869). Dunglison came to America to teach at the University of Virginia. Thomas Jefferson chose him as his personal physician shortly after his arrival, and Dunglison attended Jefferson at his death in 1826.

Photographic portrait, in black and white, of Richard Dunglison. Image from chest up of a bearded man in a business suit directly facing the camera with a solemn expression.

Richard J. Dunglison (1834-1901). He offered to Billings, among other things, "a large lot of loose pamphlets - by 'loose' I mean unbound, not, of course, loose in any other sense."