D. Willard Bliss Papers

Manuscript Collection #307
Bliss, Doctor Willard, 1825-1889
Physical description
0.143 Cubic Feet, 8 items , copies of correspondence, a scrapbook, a medical report, Baptist convention proceedings, and miscellaneous.
Preferred Citation
D. Willard Bliss Papers (#307), East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.
ECU Manuscript Collection
No restrictions

Papers (1835, 1881-1885, 1938) of a prominent Washington, DC physician and surgeon, who treated President James A. Garfield after he was shot, 1881, consisting of correspondence, a scrapbook, a medical report, Baptist convention proceedings, religion, Christianity.

Biographical/historical information

Dr. D. Willard Bliss (1825-?), a prominent Washington, D.C. physician and surgeon, was in charge of treating President James A. Garfield after he was shot, July 2, 1881, until his death September 19, 1881.

Scope and arrangement

Correspondence consists of a letter from Mrs. Bliss to her brother detailing the doctor's efforts in treating the President's wounds.

A scrapbook of newspaper clippings deals with Garfield's day to day progress, the various diagnoses offered by Bliss and his staff, steps taken to treat the wounds, and criticisms of the physicians' handling of the case.

An 1888 report compiled by the attending surgeons defends the selection of Bliss as chief physician, supports the steps he took to save the President's life, and asks for additional compensation for services rendered.

Other materials are of a religious nature, dealing mainly with missionary activities. Of particular interest are the proceedings of the 1835 Baptist general convention held in Richmond, Virginia, which contain various reports submitted to the assembly describing missionary work among the American Indians east and west of the Mississippi, and in France and Germany, Africa, Burma, Siam, and China. A Commission on Africa report calls for an end to the slave trade and for penetration of the continent by missionaries. Reports from Asia reflect opposition by native authorities to the spread of Christianity.

Missionary literature dated 1936 outlines the history of missionary activity in Tengchow, China, 1861-1936. A 1938 pamphlet contains an itemized list of expenses for mission work in Japan.

Miscellaneous items include a printed religious tract on the dangers to Christianity of the "Higher Criticism," and an abstract citing scriptural passages in support of the Baptist "Confession of Faith."

Administrative information
Custodial History

May 4, 1976, 8 items; Copies, Papers (1881-1888) including correspondence, a scrapbook, and a report concerning the assassination of President Garfield; missionary literature (1936); Baptist convention proceedings (1835); and a scriptural abstract. Loaned by Reverend E. Gordon Conklin, Greenville, North Carolina

Source of acquisition

Loaned by Reverend E. Gordon Conklin

Processing information

Processed by M. Mitchell, June 1977

Encoded by Apex Data Services

Copyright notice

Literary rights to specific documents are retained by the authors or their descendants in accordance with U.S. copyright law.

Key terms
Personal Names
Bliss, Doctor Willard, 1825-1889
Garfield, James A. (James Abram), 1831-1881--Assassination
Antislavery movements--United States
Baptists--United States--Congresses
Indians of North America--Missions--History
Medicine--Practice--Washington (D.C.)
Physicians--United States--Biography
Presidents--Medical care--United States
Slavery and the church