Plunkett Collection

1819-1912. 1 box (28 folders), ca. 85 items.MSS. COLL. #56

NOTE: The numbers cited in parentheses throughout the inventory, e.g. 1:5, refer the researcher to the Series#:Folder# in which that name/topic will be found.


The Plunkett Collection primarily consists of nineteenth century medical materials. Researchers interested in various aspects of the field of medicine during this period will find a number of items of interest. In particular, those interested in medical supplies and equipment and some of the activities of the profession in the Civil War era will find useful information.

Arrangement: The Plunkett Collection is arranged into eight series, and within each series folders are arranged alphabetically. The following are the eight series: Carter, Samuel M., 1844-1869; Correspondence, 1862-1863; Financial, 1819-1865; Microfilm, 1870; Photograph; Prescriptions; Printed, 1858-1912; and Sharkey, William Penn, 1874-1875.

Provenance: The Plunkett Collection was donated to the museum between the years 1975 and 1978 by Dr. E.R. Plunkett. The archival material accompanied a large group of three-dimensional objects, all of which were given either an A or B designation and number after the accession prefix 1978.46. In addition to the items cited elsewhere in this inventory, a number of books are associated with the archival material of this collection. For more information on these titles, see the Rare Books and Account Books inventories in the Archives research room.

Processing: This collection was organized and the finding aid prepared by Francis D. Pitts III in June 1997. Additional items separated from the collection were integrated and the finding aid updated by Archivist Elise Allison in April 2013.


The donor of this collection, Dr. E.R. Plunkett of Ohio and California, does not seem to have been a resident of North Carolina. In 1975 it appears as though he began to seek out a recipient for his large collection, which contained both three dimensional objects and archival material. Due to the collection’s richness in items related to medical history, the Greensboro Historical Museum expressed its interest in receiving the materials and subsequently had them independently appraised for Plunkett. Over 900 items from Plunkett’s collection were accessioned by the museum in 1978.

None of the people associated with the archival material nor any of the items appear to be directly related to North Carolina history. The chief thing that the bulk of the items have in common is that they exhibit Plunkett’s predilection for collecting nineteenth century medical materials.

Biographical Sources: The only source of information on Dr. E.R. Plunkett and the collection is contained in the correspondence regarding the appraisal of the items and their acceptance by the museum.


The bulk of this collection consists of material related to the medical profession. Types of materials include correspondence, invoices, microfilm, and printed matter such as certificates and pamphlets.

Although none of the material appears to be directly related to Plunkett’s life, the focus of the collection seems to reflect how his chosen career affected his collecting interests. Most of the items pertain to some aspect of the field of medicine. Researchers interested in this subject will find something to inform their study in each series. The collection is particularly strong in materials from the nineteenth century. Series 1 contains a medical student’s admission cards to lectures and, later, his receipts for taxes paid to practice as a professional. The correspondence in series 2 gives researchers insight into how some civilian doctors interacted with the Union army during the Civil War. For those interested in medical supplies and equipment used in the profession during different periods, see the invoices (3:1-2), the microfilm of an illustrated catalogue (4:1), and the apothecary label holder (7:2). In addition, other printed material, such as pamphlets from the Civil War period (7:17,19), may prove useful to some researchers.

There is nothing in the collection that is associated with either Greensboro or the state of North Carolina.


1. Carter, Samuel M. 1 folder (19 items). 1844-69.

All of the material in this series pertains to Carter’s medical career. Sixteen of the items are admission cards used by Carter while he was a medical student at Kemper College in St. Louis, Missouri, in the 1840s. The other two items are receipts for taxes paid to the U.S. Internal Revenue, 13th District of Illinois.

2. Correspondence. 1 folder (4 items). 1862-63.

The material in this series regards a claim for payment from the U.S. government for service rendered in the field by Dr. E. O. Brown of Cloverport, KY. The initial piece of correspondence was addressed to Brigadier General W. A. Hammond, who served as surgeon general from 1862 to 1864.

3. Financial. 2 folders (2 items). 1819-65.

The financial series consists of two invoices for medical supplies.

4. Microfilm. 1 folder (1 item). ca. 1870.

The microfilm in this series is of A.L. Hernstein’s Illustrated Catalogue, which contains excellent illustrations of medical supplies and equipment.

5. Photograph. 1 folder (1 item). N.d.

This photograph is a cased ambrotype of an unidentified couple.

6. Prescriptions. 1 folder (10 items). ca. 1880s.

Except for one prescription specified for rheumatism and another described as a cough powder, the majority of these prescriptions are for unidentified ailments. The folder also includes a prescription pad with a few blank pages remaining and a blank prescription from Dr. E. Rose Dorsett of Salisbury, NC.

7. Printed. 20 folders (34 items). 1858-1912.

The printed series includes a variety of materials, most of which pertain to the field of medicine. Of particular note are the apothecary label holder of most frequently requested remedies (7:2, ca. 1882); a fine engraving depicting the building that housed the Cleveland Medical College (7:6); an 1866 commencement program for the Medical Department of Columbia College (7:8); an 1861 diploma from Bowdoin College (7:10); and two pamphlets, Medical and Hospital Supplies for the Army (7:17) and A Discourse Delivered at the U. S. General Hospital (7:19), from the Civil War period. Folder 7:3 contains an interesting catalogue entitled Pads for Horses (1895), which shows the newest styles offered for sale by the E.L. McClain Mfg. Co. of Ohio.

8. Sharkey, William Penn. 1 folder (14 items). 1874-75.

The material in this series pertains to Sharkey’s medical career. Eleven items are admission cards he used for lectures at the Hahnemann Medical College of Philadelphia in 1874-75. Also included are a schedule for the “Second Week—Preliminary Course,” October 5-10, 1874, and Sharkey’s matriculation ticket dated September 29, 1874. Dr. Wm. P. Sharkey’s business card lists his address as 1938 Girard Avenue in Philadelphia and his office hours.


11Carter, Samuel M. (1844-69)
21Correspondence (1862-63)
31Financial-- Emmerich, F. J. Importer (1865)
2Financial-- Palethorp (1819)
41Microfilm (illustrated medical catalogue, ca. 1870)
71Printed-- Ads (ca. 1880s)
2-- Apothecary label holder (ca. 1882)
3-- Catalogue -- Pads for Horses (1895)
4-- Certificate -- G. P. Pilling and Son Co. (ca. 1912)
5Printed-- Certificate -- Standing Stone Oil Co. (1865)
6-- Cleveland Medical College (ca. 1858)
7-- Clippings
8-- Commencement Program -- Med. Dept. of Columbia College
9Printed-- Dictionary -- A Vest-Pocket Medical Lexicon (1885)
10-- Diploma -- Bowdoin College (1861)
11-- Fee bill (photocopy; original ca. 1870)
12-- Harper's Bazaar (1870)
13Printed-- Miscellaneous
14-- Pamphlet -- Dental Cosmos, The (1900)
15-- Pamphlet -- Home Almanac, The (1858)
16-- Pamphlet -- Hygienic & Treatment for the Cure of Disease (1889)
17Printed-- Pamphlet -- Medical and Hospital Supplies for the Army (1862)
18-- Pamphlet -- Pittsburgh Medical News and Health Reporter (n.d.)
19-- Pamphlet -- U.S. General Hospital (1865)
20-- Pamphlet -- Young Married Man’s Medical Counsellor, The (1864)
81Sharkey, William Penn (1874-75)

Index to the Plunkett Collection (1819-1912)

NOTE: The numbers following the name/subject entry — e.g. 1:1 — indicate in which Series#:Folder# (or, if no “:”, Series only) that name/topic can be found. Dates of the items are given in parentheses for an individual Series/Folder or, if at the end, for the entire subject/name entry. The abbreviation GSO indicates a Greensboro association.

Bowdoin College (ME): diploma, 7:10 (1861)
Brown, E. O.: 2:1 (1862-63)

Carter, Samuel M.: 1:1 (1844-69)
Catalogue: Pads for Horses, 7:3 (1895)
Cleveland Medical College: print, 7:6 (ca. 1858)
Civil War: 2:1; 7:17
Columbia College (NY): commencement program, 7:8 (1866)

Dental Cosmos, The: 7:14 (1900)
Dictionary: A Vest-Pocket Medical Lexicon, 7:9 (1885)
Dorr, Oren A.: 7:10 (1861)
Dorsett, E. Rose: 5:1 (n.d.)

Emmerich, F. J. Importer (NY): 3:1 (1865)

Fee bill: 7:11 (photocopy; original ca. 1870)

Hahnemann Medical College of Philadelphia: 8:1 (1874-75)
Hammond, W. A.: 2:1 (1862-63)
Harper’s Bazaar: 7:12 (1870)
Head, J. F.: 2:1 (1862-63)
Hernstein’s Illustrated Catalogue (microfilm): 4:1 (ca. 1870)
Home Almanac, The: 7:15 (1858)
Hospital No.10 (Louisville, KY): 2:1 (1862-63)
Hygienic & Treatment for the Cure of Disease: 7:16 (1889)

Keeper Medical College (St. Louis, MO.): 1:1 (1844-46)

Louisville, KY: 2:1 (1862-63)

Medical and Hospital Supplies for the Army: pamphlet, 7:17 (1862)
Medicine: 1-8 (1819-1912)

Palethorp (Philadelphia merchant): 2:1 (1819)
Pilling, G. P. and Son Co. (Philadelphia): 7:4 (ca. 1912)
Pittsburgh Medical News and Health Reporter: pamphlet, 7:18 (n.d.)

St. Louis Hospital: 1:1 (ca. 1844-46)
Sharkey, William Penn: 8:1 (1874-75)
Smith’s, Geo. W. [Apothecary] Label Holder: 7:2 (ca. 1882)
Standing Stone Oil Co. (WV): stock certificate, 7:5 (1865)

U.S. General Hospital (VA): pamphlet, 7:19 (1865)
U.S. Internal Revenue Dept. (13th District of IL): 1:1 (1865-69)

Young Married Man’s Medical Counsellor, The: 7:20 (1864)