Dr. Manning’s 1834 daybook

Dr. Henry Manning practiced medicine in Youngstown, Ohio from around 1811 until his death in 1869. He served as a surgeon in the Ohio Militia during the War of 1812. He was one of two doctors in the town of about 400 people. He traveled to patients’ homes on horseback on dirt roads at all hours of the day and night. In 1815, he opened a drug store for the town with Caleb B. Wick. In addition to his medical career, Henry Manning also owned land, cattle, and sheep. As one of the few formally educated men in the community, he was chosen to be the President of the Mahoning National Bank and the Youngstown Board of Education. During his long life, he also served as an elected representative to the State Legislature, a Township Trustee, and an Associate Justice of the Court of Common Pleas.
The Medical Museum owns one of his ledgers or “daybooks” that document his business transactions from 1834 to 1842. In particular, he used this book to record every patient he saw, their ailment, treatment, and his fee. A few of these pages will provide a good understanding of his work at this particular time and place. The first 30 pages of the notebook (1834- 1836) can be seen here.


This page covers the dates September 11 to September 23rd, 1834. Each patient is recorded in a two-line entry grouped by two forward slashes. Throughout the journal, the dates are grouped so it is unclear whether there were days when the doctor saw no patients and then several on one day- or the dates in the left margin are just general time markers.

On the first line, he notes the patient or household visited. The second line notes the reason and the medicine or procedure the doctor performed. Sometimes this is a vague “to visit. med.” entry. The charge for his service is right margin. Credits/payments are listed in the general space to the left of the charges.

On the page above, the doctor recorded that he visited the house of Henry Swager for an “obstet[rical] operation” on September 11th. He charged $3.00 for those. (To extract a tooth it was $.025.) About half way down the page, he notes a payment of $0.25 for Swager for helping on Dr. Manning’s farm.

Sometimes the doctor was paid in cash, but just as commonly he was paid through trade in items like corn, cheese, or chickens, services from the shoemaker or other tradesmen, or help on his farm. This page also lists a credit of $0.44 to John Parish from eight pounds of cheese.

His charges depended on variables such as the distance traveled, if the patient was a child or an adult, and the type of medicine administered. There was a special note and charge for emergency night visits. Some patients received discounts like preachers, as noted about halfway down the page for a $1.50 credit.


Dr. Manning’s treatments were based on the humoral theory of medicine. He tried to restore balance in the body by giving “stimulating” medicine that would induce sweating, or medicine that would rid the body of bad substances through vomiting, urination, or defecation. Purgatives that were often used by Dr. Manning were paregoric, calomel, jalap, antimony, and wormseed oil. Another common treatment was bleeding. It was used to bring down an excited pulse or elevated temperature.


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