Manuscript Group 481, Van Derveer Family Papers


Documents, Manuscripts, Maps, & Photographs

Manuscript Group 481, Van Derveer Family Papers, 1733-1908, 0.5 linear ft. (132 items)

Papers, 1733-1908, of  Lawrence Van Derveer (1740-1815), a revolutionary era physician, and his son, Dr. Henry Van Derveer (1792?-1874), both of Somerset County, N.J. (Bedminster Township and Somerville).  Dr. Lawrence Van Derveer, a founder of the Medical Society of New Jersey in 1766 and its president in 1784, was best known for his studies of the plant scutellaria lateriflora as a cure for hydrophobia (rabies). His son, Dr. Henry Van Derveer, was also president of the Society in 1836. Credited with prescribing smaller doses, he advocated terchloride of carbon before chloroform was in use.

Papers include correspondence, medical notes, land deeds, mortgages, stock certificates, receipts for payment of bonds, powers of attorney, and other legal documents. Bulk of the collection concerns “Vanderstade,” the contested estate of Dr. Henry Van Derveer (d. 1868), a nephew of Dr. Lawrence Van Derveer, and includes wills, petitions, arguments, appeals and decisions.

Also, a case study of epilepsy (1908) by Dr. Marietta H.C. Woodruff, describing the treatment of violent seizures with verbena; a printed pamphlet discussing Dr. Lawrence Van Derveer’s treatment of hydrophobia (rabies); pharmaceutical bills from Townsend and Speakman, Apothecaries and Chemists of Philadelphia (1783); and formula notes for gonorrhea, fever powder, cough lozenges, bilious pills and the “domestic preparation of rhubarb.”

Also of note: Lawrence Van Derveer’s will (1804), which contains a passage concerning his slaves; a letter (1854) about travels through the “Kansas Territory,” Nebraska and the Mississippi River, describing slavery, Indians, the Prairie lands, timber and limestone; an indenture for land acquired by Jacob Van Dervere (sic) dated 1733; and two maps — British and French Dominions of North America (1755) and Northern Part of the State of Maine and British Provinces (1830).

Included in the collection are letters of Henry Bedinger, Henry Brokaw, Isaac Davis, John Frelinghuysen, Theodore Frelinghuysen, John F. Hageman, Richard Mercer, Dr. William Perrine, Abraham Shephard,  Dr. R.L. Smith, L. Spalding, Peter Stryker, and  Peter Vroom.

Bequest of Miss A. May Van Derveer, 1961.

Additional papers of  the Van Derveer Family are located at Special Collections and University Archives at Rutgers University (MC# 629, 630).

Container List:





1 1 Papers 1733-1908
2 Papers 1733-1908
3 Papers 1733-1908
4 Papers, Pamphlet 1733-1908
2 1 Papers 1733-1908
2 Papers 1733-1908
3 Papers – Woodruff 1733-1908
4(add.) Cornelius Vanhorne – Indenture September 25, 1733

Initial processing of this collection was provided as part of the “Farm to City” project funded by a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.

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