The collection consists primarily of five medical ledgers (1865-1875, 1878-1885, 1882-1887, 1888-1900, 1887-1910) kept by the doctors which cover the years 1865 to 1910. All the ledgers contain a patient name index, and entries which include date of visit and prescription and/or procedure. Often charges and payments are listed, and these notations become more detailed over time. Only rarely is the cause of illness mentioned. Entries also note distance from town for visits to the country, and if the visit was at night. Medications frequently prescribed throughout the ledgers include calomel, opium, rhubarb pills, morphine, laudanum, chloroform, quinine, sugar lead, potassium, black wash, lavender and tannin. By the early 1880s prescriptions for patent and ready made medicines, such as cough mixture, fever mixture, worm powder, colic mix, tonic and Hooper's Pills, were becoming common. The use of digitalis also shows up in the ledgers at this time.
The primary medical procedure noted in all the ledgers concerns delivery of babies, occasionally with forceps, and often with chloroform. One abortion (1878-1882, p. 184) is noted specifically, as is a miscarriage (1887-1888, p. 40), although a number of probable other cases are not listed as such. Deliveries requiring surgery note at least one caesarian section (1878-1882, p. 24). Ledgers generally record hours of "detention" or labor.
Other common medical procedures mentioned include drawing off urine, cupping, bleeding, lancing abscesses and cutting gums. Less common is setting fractures (1878-1882, pp. 4, 34, 58), extracting teeth (1882-1887, pp. 76, 81), performing amputations and removing bullets. A very high number of vaccinations recorded for the period of February - April 1866 suggest an epidemic. Cases of measles (1882-1887 pp. 36, 92), syphilis (1882-1887, p. 54) and pneumonia (1888-1910, p. 101) are also recorded.
The first ledger (1865-1875) specifically mentions Negro patients, and records a few payments in kind. In the third ledger (1882-1887) examinations for insurance companies and office visits begin. In addition to individual patients and life insurance work, the doctors also treated poorhouse and jail patients, members of a circus (1865-1875, p. 91), the crew of the steamer
Ellen Terry (1865-1875, pp. 237, 267), employees of the Atlantic and N.C. Railroad (1865-1875, pp. 155, 229; 1887-1910, p. 29), members of a Masonic Lodge (1865-1875, p. 299), and participated in consultations (1878-1882, p. 197; 1887-1910, pp. 127, 131). Notes for a death certificate to a Homeopathic Unit (1887-1910, p. 20) are also listed. The last volume (1887-1910) gives prescription ingredients for nose afflictions (p. 300); and for consumption, lung and throat problems (p. 301).
Family-related information found in the ledgers includes tax listings for New Bern lots owned by Isaac W. Hughes (1865-1875, inner page); a settlement of accounts (1898-1900) with the caretakers of Hotel Chattawka, New Bern, N.C., owned by Francis W. Hughes, and receipts and disbursements (1898-1900) for the hotel (1888-1900, pp. 84-97); and sale of a lot in New Bern in settlement of the James B. Hughes estate (1887-1910, p. 137) and a 1907 accounting of cash on hand in the estate (p. 304).
A miscellaneous folder includes correspondence from insurance companies, more patient entries (1858-1880), a legal document indicating that F. W. Hughes bought land in Craven County (1888); a bill for board at, and a telephone company bill and gas light company bills for the Hotel Chattawka (1899-1901); and a note (1907) that a house was being finished for Dr. F. W. Hughes in Black Mountain, Henderson County, N.C.