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Dr. George C. Palmer Letter

 Item — Folder: 1
Identifier: RH-A-4352

Scope and Contents

The collection contains an envelope and one letter written by Dr. George C. Palmer in Kalamazoo, Michigan in October of 1866 to his brother Alonzo A. Palmer living in Pendleton Hill, Connecticut.

Dr. Palmer writes about his health and requesting a weekly letter reporting his condition. He writes that his brother has pulmonary weakness and is thinking to advise him to travel west. He also reports his own health is good.


  • Creation: October 1866


Biographical / Historical

Born in Connecticut, Dr. George Culver Palmer (1839-1894) graduated in 1859 from the Connecticut Literary Institute and according to the 1860 census was a teacher. He attended the University of Michigan beginning in 1861 both in the literary department and the medical school. After completing medical school in 1864, he came to the Michigan Asylum for the Insane in Kalamazoo where he was an assistant physician. He served as Assistant Superintendent under Dr. Edwin Van Deusen in 1873 and became the Medical Superintendent by 1878, a position he held until 1891. Under his tenure he created the Colony Plan which led to the creation of Colony Farm at Asylum Lake and also reduced the use of medical restraints. He resigned to become the director of Oak Grove, a private sanitarium in Flint. In 1894 he passed away and was buried in North Stonington, Connecticut.

Dr. Palmer’s parents were Abel Palmer (1801-1872) and Sarah Main Palmer (1816-1866). He had two brothers Alonzo A. Palmer (1836-1866) and Caius C. Palmer (1846-1885). Not much is known of Alonzo, who was three years older than George, however in the 1860 census he is listed as a teacher like his brother. All indications are that Alonzo stayed in Connecticut. In the letter written by George to Alonzo, George describes Alonzo having some type of heart ailment. He says that it would not be possible for Alonzo to think about going into medicine. As far as the west, he felt the air is “bracing for weak beings” and if he went he should wear flannel undergarments. He also wants to sent him money. The letter was written in October. Alonzo passed away two months later in December and also is buried in North Stonington, Connecticut.


.05 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials


Physical Description

The collection amounts to .05 cubic feet and is composed of one letter dated October 21, 1866 written by Dr. George C. Palmer living in Kalamazoo, Michigan and on the staff of the Michigan Asylum for the Insane to his brother Alonzo A. Palmer living in Pendleton Hill, Connecticut.

The letter measures 8”x10” unfolded and 8”x5” folded with writing on three of the pages. The paper is lined and the letter is written in India ink. In the upper right corner of the first page is written “Mich. Asylum for the Insane Kalamazoo October 21, 1866” The letter is written in cursive with India ink. The golden envelope measures 3”x5” and is addresses on the front, “Dr. Alonzo A. Palmer Pendleton Hill, Conn.” The front also has a .03 stamp with George Washington’s profile along with a postmark from Kalamazoo, Mich dated October 22, 1866.

The letter and envelope are in good shape. The envelope has been opened on the side and it has some wear but continues to be legible. The letter is legible although there is a little fading and yellowing. There is not too much wear at the main fold but a little more at the two creases. There is a very small ink spot on the blank page.

Dr. George C. Palmer Letter finding aid
Stephanie Chapman
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Western Michigan University Archives & Regional History Collections Repository

Charles C. and Lynn L. Zhang Legacy Collections Center
1650 Oakland Drive
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5307 US
(269) 387-8490