Benjamin G. Harris worked as a surgeon’s mate aboard the US frigate Philadelphia from the time of the ship’s commissioning in April 1800 to December of the same year. Harris left the ship upon its arrival at Montserrat to become an assistant to local doctor John Carey.
Harris’s journal entries record observations of diseases and the medical and surgical treatments of sailors during the ship’s cruise to the West Indies. He assists with treatments of common sailors’ ailments such as dysentery, scurvy and venereal disease, and also attends to injuries suffered in the course of work aboard ship. The entries after Harris settles in Montserrat describe his care of the local population, including a number of slaves. At this point in the volume, the entries become sporadic, and end in 1803.
The remainder of the volume was used as a letterbook by Harris and others, containing retained drafts of letters describing the death of Harris’s friend, Rev. Howell Powell, and the settlement of Powell’s estate.
- Ship physicians
- Medicine, Naval
- Sailors — Medical care
- Medicine — Practice — 19th century
- Sexually transmitted diseases
- Administration of estates