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(.33 cu. ft.: 2 .5 DB, 1 (.5) Flt. B.)

by: Grace Angle and Robert S. Harding, 1984


Crawford Williamson Long was born November 1, 1815, in Danielsville, Georgia, the son of James and Elizabeth Ware. He was a studious boy who entered Franklin College (now the University of Georgia) at fourteen and graduated in 1835, second in his class. After teaching one year he began to read medicine, first under a preceptor, later at Transylvania University, Lexington, Kentucky, and finally at the University of Pennsylvania, where he received a degree in 1839.

Following eighteen months in New York, where he gained a reputation as a skillful surgeon, he began to practice in Jefferson, a village in Jackson County, Georgia. In August 1842, Dr. Long married Caroline Swain, the niece of Governor David Lowry Swain of North Carolina.

During the early 1840's laughing gas was the subject of much discussion and a number of demonstrations of its effects on volunteers. In January, 1842, several of Long's friends induced him to let them have a nitrous oxide frolic. No nitrous oxide was available but Long offered sulphuric ether as a substitute, explaining to his friends that it was equally exhilirating and as safe as nitrous oxide. After observing that the young men who had inhaled the sulphuric ether did not experience pain, Dr. Long decided to test its ability to produce insensitivity in his practice.

On March 30, 1842, Dr. Long administered sulphuric ether to James Venable and removed a small tumor from his neck. This was the first recorded surgical procedure using inhalation anaesthesia. On June 6, he removed another tumor from Venable's neck and on July 3 amputated a boy's toe. By September, Long had performed eight operations using ether as the anaesthetic. This experience with ether was not published until December, 1849, as a result of the controversy over W. T. G. Morton's claim to priority in its discovery. At that time Dr. Long described his first five operations using ether in a paper in the Southern Medical and Surgical Journal under the title "An Account of the First Use of Sulphuric Ether by Inhalation as an Anaesthetic in Surgical Operations."

In 1850, Crawford Long moved to Athens, Georgia, where he immediately acquired a large surgical practice. He died there on June 16, 1878. In 1910, an obelisk was erected to his memory in Athens and in 1926, Georgia placed his statue in Statuary Hall in the Capitol in Washington, D.C.

Scope and Content

The collection includes five publications: a biographical sketch; personal recollections of a contemporary pharmacist, together with correspondence and documentation of Long's priority in the use of ether; a paper read before the Johns Hopkins Historical Society; the proceedings in Statuary Hall when Crawford Long's statue was unveiled; and a memorial to Dr. Long published by the University of Pennsylvania.

Four of the five pamphlets were given by Dr. Long's daughter, Mrs. Frances Long Taylor, 357 Milledge Avenue, Athens, Georgia in 1921. The provenance of Senate Document No. 60 of the 69th Congress, 1st Session, a record of the proceedings in Statutary Hall on the presentation of a statue of Dr. Long, is not known. It is dated March 30, 1926.

Also included are an original letter (dated December 3, 1911) from Dudley W. Buxton to Mrs. Taylor, Dr. Long's daughter, regarding a paper he had read before the Royal Academy of Medicine, and glass plate photonegatives and one film negative, with corresponding photoprints, of a number of letters attesting to Dr. Long's use of sulphuric ether as an anaesthetic on approximate or specific dates.

Container List

Box  Folder

1 1 Paper-bound book, 69 pp. + v. Crawford W. Long. Proceedings in Statuary Hall of the United States Capitol upon the Unveiling and Presentation of the Statue of Crawford W. Long by the State of Georgia. Senate Document No. 160. Washington, D.C., 1926.
2 Book bound in blue leather, 17 pp. Foy, George, M.D. Crawford Williamson Long, M.D. The Discoverer of Ether Anaesthesia. A Biographical Sketch. Reprinted from Janus. N.d., but autographed by Foy on first page, 8 June 1903. S.I. acc. no. 66216. With exhibit label stating that this is "one of three copies which were bound in limp blue leather, and stamped in gold for presentation to King Edward VII, because of his interest in anesthesia."
3 Booklet, 47 pp. Jacobs, Jos., Phar. D. Dr. Crawford W. Long / The Distinguished Physician-Pharmacist. Atlanta, Georgia. 1919. U.S.N[ational] M[useum] Cat. No. M-1095, Acc. No. 66216.
4 Bulletin reprint, 15 pp. University of Pennsylvania. Memorial to Dr. Crawford W. Long...An Account of the Ceremonies... Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania (Reprint from Old Penn), April 1912. U.S.N[ational] M[useum] Cat. No. M-1089, Acc. No. 66216.
5 Reprint, 22 pp. Young, Hugh H. "Long, the Discoverer of Anaesthesia. A Presentation of His Original Documents," The Johns Hopkins Historical Bulletin, 77-78 (August-September 1897). U.S.N.M. Cat. No. 1086.
6 Seventeen photo-prints, from glass plate photo-negatives in Box 2 (below): copies of letters relating to the use of ether as an anaesthetic by Dr. Long, attesting to the approximate or specific date of its use. Location of original letters unknown.
7 Original letter from Dudley W. Buxton to Mrs. Taylor, Dr. Long's daughter, regarding a paper he read before the Royal Academy of Medicine, 3 Dec. 1911.
2 1 Seventeen glass plate photo-negatives and one film photo-negative, 8" x 10", copies of original letters, from which the photo-prints in Box 1, Folder 6 (above) were made.
3 1 One glass plate photo-negative, 14" x 11", copy of an original letter.

Grace Angle & Robert S. Harding, 1984
revised David Haberstich, 12/22/88


Revised: March 6, 2001