Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Thomas Jefferson Bowles Family Collection now available in the Digital Media Repository

Thomas Jefferson Bowles scrapbook
Are you interested in studying the life of a leading freethinker, supporter of the National Liberal Party in the United States, and the oldest practicing medical doctor in Indiana at the time of his death? Would you like to read the handwritten notes and speeches of someone who addressed free silver clubs, legal organizations, rationalist associations and many other groups on diverse topics such as death, temperance, philosophy, history, politics and medical issues? Are you a genealogist or local history researcher interested in images and biographical articles about Delaware County, Indiana citizens? If any of these topics caught your attention or if you just have eclectic research interests, you will want to take some time to explore the Thomas Jefferson Bowles Family Collection in the Digital Media Repository. This new digital collection includes notebooks, scrapbooks and other material related to the life, work, social involvement, and political activity of Thomas Jefferson Bowles ranging from 1886 to 1924. It also includes a local history scrapbook created by is son, Homer E. Bowles.

Thomas Jefferson Bowles was an influential medical doctor in Delaware County, Indiana. He studied medicine at the Medical College of Ohio followed by advanced training at Rush Medical College in Chicago and Bellevue Hospital in New York City. He began a medical practice in Windsor, Indiana and relocated to Muncie in 1874. Together with Drs. G.W.H. Kemper and J. Dillon, Bowles wrote the constitution and by-laws organizing the first medical society in Delaware County. At the time of his death on April 19, 1924 at the age of 87, he was known as the oldest practicing physician in the state of Indiana.

Thomas Jefferson Bowles 1903-1909 notebook
In addition to his work in medicine, Thomas Jefferson Bowles was a leading freethinker in Indiana and actively advocated the formation of opinions based entirely upon logic, reason and empiricism without regard for authority, traditions, or dogmas. He wrote extensively on ideas associated with freethought and was in demand as a speaker on the subject. Known as an agnostic and evolutionist, Dr. Bowles formed the Literary and Scientific Association of Muncie, the Literary Fireside Society, Home Circle and Ethical Society.

Homer E. Bowles scrapbook
Given the diverse interests of the Bowles family, it is not surprising that there are a wide variety of topics addressed in this online collection. Here are a few suggestions about where to start your research on different topics. If you are interested in Thomas Jefferson Bowles’ medical career or the history of medicine in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, you may want to start by examining his explanation of medical terms. Researchers interested in Thomas Jefferson Bowles philosophical ideas and involvement in the Freethought movement will want to examine his scrapbook containing notes and newspaper articles from 1900-1907. Cultural historians studying the treatment of death from anti-religious viewpoints like those common amongst freethinkers can study his funeral addresses. Thomas Jefferson Bowles’ political involvement is documented in his scrapbook as well as the notes for his opening speech at the convention of the National Liberal Party in 1903. Genealogists, students and historians researching influential citizens of Delaware County, Indiana will want to browse the newspaper clippings in the Homer E. Bowles scrapbook which include images, biographical articles and obituaries.

The material in this digital collection is a part of the Thomas Jefferson Bowles family papers, 1886-1984 in Archives and Special Collections. Please contact us at libarchives@bsu.edu if you have any questions about this collection or any other material in our holdings.

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