Hays, I. Minis (Isaac Minis), 1847-1925

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Isaac Minis Hays was a Philadelphia physician and author and editor of books on medicine and Benjamin Franklin. He was Librarian of American Philosophical Society, 1897-1922.

From the description of Correspondence, ca. 1880s-1925. (American Philosophical Society Library). WorldCat record id: 122616180

I. Minis Hays was a Philadelphia physician and author and editor of books on medicine and Benjamin Franklin. He was Librarian of the American Philosophical Society from 1897 to 1922.

From the description of A note on the history of the Jefferson manuscript draught of the Declaration of Independence in the Library of the American Philosophical Society, 1898. (American Philosophical Society Library). WorldCat record id: 122584025

From the guide to the A note on the history of the Jefferson manuscript draught of the Declaration of Independence in the Library of the American Philosophical Society, 1898, 1898, (American Philosophical Society)

Isaac Minis Hays (1847-1925, APS 1886 ) was a Philadelphia physician, ophthalmologist, editor and librarian. He was the editor of the American Journal of the Medical Sciences from 1878-1890. He later became Secretary and Librarian of the American Philosophical Society from 1897-1922. As A.P.S. Librarian, he collected and cataloged the great mass of Benjamin Franklin’s papers for the American Philosophical Society. He also published a Calendar of Franklin Papers (1907) and a C[h]ronology of Benjamin Franklin (2nd ed., 1913).

Hays was born in Philadelphia on July 26, 1847, the son of Dr. Isaac Hays (1796-1879, APS 1863) and Sarah Minis. He was sent to the Classical Institute for his secondary education, and afterward matriculated at the University of Pennsylvania. He graduated A.B. in 1866 and immediately entered Penn’s medical school, graduating M.D. in 1868. Remaining an extra year, he took a Master of Arts degree in 1869. Also, in 1869 he became the assistant editor to his father Isaac Hays, who was the editor of the American Journal of Medical Sciences.

Hays wrote or edited several works in his field of ophthalmology, including the American edition of J. Soelberg Wells’s Treatise on the Diseases of the Eye (1873) and a statistical survey, entitled “Blindness: Its Frequency, Causes and Prevention” for William F. Norris and Charles A. Oliver’s System of Diseases of the Eye (1897). However, Hays took little pleasure in the practice of medicine (having few patients) or in medical research.

Hays succeeded his father as editor of the American Journal of Medical Sciences, after his father’s death in 1878. Already as assistant editor, he had commissioned four historical articles to demonstrate American contributions over the previous century to Medicine, Surgery, Obstetrics and Gynecology. These appeared in successive quarterly issues of the Journal in 1876, and were reprinted as a monograph entitled, A Century of American Medicine. Several years after becoming editor, Hays converted a sister publication of the Journal, the monthly Medical News and Library, to a weekly format. He conceived the publication, containing extracts from other journals, as a “medium” for “transmitting the earliest intelligence of medical discoveries and progress,” and recruited special correspondents in other cities for this purpose. These endeavors gave Hays a notable reputation as a medical editor.

Hays’s earliest experiences with libraries came after his election as a Fellow of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia in 1872. The following year he was appointed to the Library Committee of the College, and pursued its work with creativity and energy. One of his greatest concerns was to see that the College library was properly cataloged, and he visited the Library Company of Philadelphia and the Boston Medical Library to learn about the costs, materials and systems for cataloging the collection. He even concerned himself with the particulars of the library’s operations, designing charge slips, helping to draft rules for the use of the library, drafting a new, expanded schedule for its hours of operation, binding library and archival materials and hiring its first professional staff. As the College Librarian became more experienced in his post, the need for the Library Committee to be involved in the day-to-day operations lessened. Hays was displeased by this “restriction” in the Committee’s authority, and offered his resignation in 1893.

Hays’ earlier editorial and library committee assignments would be excellent preparation for his work at the American Philosophical Society. He was elected to membership in the Society in February of 1886, and eleven years later became one of its secretaries. He was also appointed acting librarian to replace of Dr. George H. Horn (1840-1897, APS 1869), who had fallen ill. Within a few weeks of his new appointments he began initiatives for changes that would occupy the Society for a quarter of a century. Serving as the A.P.S. Librarian, secretary and editor, Hays was effectively its first executive officer. During the twenty-five year period from 1897-1922 he is said to have written 48,000 letters on Society business and edited twenty-seven volumes of the Proceedings and Transactions. With a passion for order, a keen analytical sense, and abundant physical energy, he became the driving force behind all of the Society’s work.

Drawing upon his experiences on the Library Committee of the College of Physicians, Hays brought needed changes to the Society’s Library. On his appointment as Acting Librarian, he was invited to sit on the Library Committee and began making important recommendations. Later, after the death of the former Librarian Dr. Horn in 1898, Hays became an ex offico member of the Library Committee. Among his first recommendations were the establishment of rules governing the operation of the Library, the purchase of a card catalog, and the hiring of a professional cataloger. Other library staff was added over the next few years, totaling four by 1901. For a library cataloging system Hays adopted the Dewey Decimal Classification system to replace the “philosophical” classification of former A.P.S. Librarian J. Peter Lesley (1819-1903, APS 1856). Next, he turned to the Library’s neglected books and periodicals that were badly in need of binding. He identified and sold duplicate volumes and withdrew books outside the Library’s fields of interest, donating many pamphlets on Unitarian theology (garnered by the Society’s first Librarian John Vaughan (1756-1841, APS 1784)) to the First Unitarian Church. Hays extended the hours during which the Library was open to readers, and also asked for increased space. One of his most impressive accomplishments was a fifteen-year project to bind and catalog the papers of Benjamin Franklin. Having proceeded with the organization of the Library, Hays now turned to the A.P.S. Committee on Historical Manuscripts for advice about how to make the Society’s many large collections accessible to researchers. On the Committee’s recommendation calendars were prepared for the papers of Richard Henry Lee, Nathanael Greene and General George Weedon. Hays is best known outside the Society for promoting the Benjamin Franklin papers, donated to the Society by Charles Pemberton Fox in 1840. This collection was little known or used for much of the nineteenth-century, although Paul L. Ford used it extensively for his 1899 portrait, The Many-Sided Franklin. Shortly after Hays’ appointment as Librarian, A.P.S. member Talcott Williams (1849-1928, APS 1888) suggested to him that a calendar be prepared for the Franklin papers. Hays presented the idea of a Franklin Collection calendar to the A.P.S. Council along with a proposal that the Society celebrate the bicentennial of Franklin’s birth in 1906. Neither proposal was adopted. Consequently, he changed his tactics. In the final paper of a scientific session at the General Meeting that year, the Chairman of the Library Committee Joseph G. Rosengarten ( 1835-1921, APS 1891) described the content and character of the Franklin papers, expressing the hope that a calendar might be prepared for the collection in the not too distant future-“certainly by the two hundredth anniversary of the birth of our founder.” In the business meeting that followed Hays gained unanimous consent for a committee “to prepare a plan for the appropriate celebration of the bicentennial of the birth of Franklin.”

The plans for a bicentennial celebration of Franklin’s birth drew widespread support, from the U.S. government, the Pennsylvania legislature, and the city of Philadelphia. On April 20, 1906 dignitaries from across the nation and the globe assembled in Philadelphia to celebrate the bicentennial. These included Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, leading the congressional delegation; Ambassador Jean A.A. J. Jusserand (1855-1932, APS 1907), representing the French Republic; as well as delegates from 127 learned societies. In addition to addresses on Franklin by leading scholars, there were luncheons, dinners and two academic convocations. There were also memorial ceremonies at Franklin’s grave. The grateful members of the Society recognized Hays achievement with an illuminated scroll and an engraved silver cup. After the departure of guests, the Committee on the Franklin Bicentennial directed Hays to prepare a memorial volume and “to secure the services of a corps of assistants to complete the Calendar of the Franklin papers.” The calendar appeared in five large volumes in 1908.

As A.P.S. Secretary Hays resuscitated the spirit of the Society just as he had revived its Library. By the last decade of the nineteenth century, attendance at the Society’s semi-monthly meetings was meager. The number of attendees rarely reached thirty. In 1901 Hays proposed that the Society hold an annual general meeting, lasting several days to attract distant members instead of the semi-monthly meetings. His plan was approved, and the first general meeting was held on April 3-5, 1902 and was a resounding success. 115 members attended, and such meetings became a regular feature of the Society’s calendar. Sometimes the general meetings were planned around an anniversary or special theme like the centennial of Darwin’s birth. In 1910 ordinary meetings were reduced to one a month, and in 1936 monthly meetings were dropped completely in favor of a second general meeting.

Hays’ other major initiative within the American Philosophical Society was less successful. The reawakening of the members’ interest in the Society and its mission naturally produced a desire for larger quarters. This was especially the case, since member attendance at general meetings had grown significantly and the library had outstripped the available space. As a matter of fact, in 1912 some books from the Library’s collection had to be put into storage at a neighboring bank. At this time in Philadelphia the new Parkway was taking shape under the leadership of former Fairmount Park Commissioner Eli Kirk Price, Jr. (1860-1933, APS 1916), who based the plans upon the model of the Champs ď Elysees in Paris. Hays was among the Society’s members, who voted to leave the Philosophical Hall facility on Independence Square and to construct a new building at 16th and Cherry streets. To this end he mounted a fund-raising campaign, playing a large part in the related meetings, discussions and publicity. However, the advent of World War I diverted the attention of the members and the public for a number of years. In 1922 before the relocation scheme could be realized, the city of Philadelphia decided to use the 16th and Cherry Street tract for a park.

In the spring of 1922 Hays shocked the members of the American Philosophical Society with an announcement of his retirement. The members were genuinely dismayed, since few active members could recall a time when he had not been in charge. After his resignation, Hays continued to be an active and outspoken A.P.S. member. Among his activities, he was appointed Chairman of the Committee on Library, and in this capacity he wrote an article on Benjamin Franklin’s Canada pamphlet entitled, The Interest of Great Britain Considered (1760), as well as answering questions from a new generation of Franklin scholars such as George Simpson Eddy. In 1924 Hays served as secretary of a special committee to plan an international scientific conference to celebrate the Society’s two hundredth anniversary in 1926. He presented his plan for the celebration on May 27, 1925. Unfortunately, he would not live to see it realized. Ten days later, the seventy-seven year old Hays died of a heart attack on June 5, during a heat wave of unseasonable intensity. In his will Hays directed that after the death of his daughters, the income of his considerable estate should be paid to the American Philosophical Society, the institution he had served for thirty-seven years.

From the guide to the I. Minis (Isaac Minis) Hays correspondence, ca. 1880s-1925, Circa 1880-1925, (American Philosophical Society)

Caspar Wistar (1761-1818, APS 1787) was a Philadelphia physician and paleontologist. He was a professor at the University of Pennsylvania for three decades, and he served the American Philosophical Society in various offices, including that of president. He was the host of the popular weekly gatherings of local and visiting learned men that became known as the Wistar Parties.

He was born in Philadelphia, the son of Richard Wistar (1727-1781), a glass manufacturer, and Sarah Wyatt Wistar (1733-1771). His seven siblings included his younger sister Catharine, who was married to Benjamin Franklin’s grandson William Bache. Wistar is sometimes called Caspar Wistar, Jr., to distinguish him from his grandfather, also named Caspar Wistar (1696-1752). The elder Caspar was a merchant and glassmaker who had moved from Wald-Hilspach, Germany, to Philadelphia in 1717.

Born a Quaker, Wistar was educated at the Friends School at Fourth and Walnut Streets in Philadelphia. At age sixteen he volunteered as a nurse at the Battle of Germantown in 1777. It is said that this experience inspired him to become a physician. He commenced his medical studies that year, under the physician John Redman and later also with John Jones, a New York physician who had fled to Philadelphia. In 1779 Wistar enrolled in the medical department of what was then called the University of the State of Pennsylvania. In 1782, after receipt of his Bachelor of Medicine, he set out for a three year tour of study in England and Scotland. (Wistar was a practicing Friend throughout his life; however, prior to his departure he had trouble securing a certificate that testified to his diligent adherence to conduct becoming to a Friend for he had fallen “into Scandalous & alarming temptation of being engaged in a duel.”) While still a student he was elected one of the presidents of the Royal Medical Society and also president of the Society for the Further Investigation of Natural History. During his stay in England and Scotland he made the acquaintance of several notable figures, including James Boswell, Sir James McIntosh and William Cullen (1710-1790, APS 1768). In 1786 he graduated from the University of Edinburgh with a Doctorate of Medicine.

Back in Philadelphia, Wistar established a private medical practice that soon grew into one of the largest in the city. He was also elected to the College of Physicians and served as a physician to the Philadelphia Dispensary. In 1788 he became a professor of chemistry at the medical school of the College of Philadelphia in 1788. After the merger of the College with the University of the State of Pennsylvania in 1791, Wistar became an adjunct professor of anatomy, midwifery and surgery. In 1793 he joined the staff of the Pennsylvania Hospital. He nearly lost his life during the yellow fever epidemic of 1793 after being stricken by the disease while assisting his friend Benjamin Rush (1745-1813, APS 1768) in fighting the epidemic. Differences of opinion regarding treatment of this disease, including the drastic use of bleeding and purging, eventually caused a breech in their friendship. Nevertheless, Wistar remained Rush’s colleague at the Pennsylvania Hospital until 1810. In 1808 he was appointed to the chair in anatomy which had formerly been occupied by William Shippen. Wistar remained on the Penn faculty until his death in 1818.

Wistar was a popular teacher who enlivened his presentations with drawings and models that made it easier for students to follow his lectures and demonstrations. He developed a number of unique teaching aids, some of which were life-sized anatomical models made of dried and wax-injected human limbs and organs. Others were fashioned of wood, carved by America's first professional sculptor, William Rush. Two years before his death, Wistar appointed Dr. William Edmonds Horner (1793-1853, APS 1819), his long-time assistant in anatomy, as caretaker of these valuable models. Horner later enlarged the collection and opened the first anatomical museum in the United States, the Wistar and Horner Museum. The collection eventually passed to the Wistar Institute of Anatomy and Biology, the first independent medical research facility established in the United States. The Institute, which was founded in 1892 by Wistar's great-nephew, Isaac J. Wistar (1827-1905, APS 1893), was named in honor of Caspar Wistar.

Wistar's reputation drew medical students to Philadelphia from around the world. His anatomy courses became so large that they eventually had to be divided into sections. Wistar wrote the first and very successful treatise on anatomy published in the United States, titled A System of Anatomy (2 vols., 1811, 1814). However, he was widely respected not only for his medical knowledge, but also for his general breadth of knowledge, which included the humanities as well as the sciences. In fact, while Wistar made few contributions to medical literature – his only medical article, a description of the sphenoid sinuses, was published the year he died –, he contributed several papers on scientific subjects outside of medicine, including paleontology and botany. His reputation as an authority on fossil bones was established as early as 1787, when he and Timothy Matlack (1730-1823, APS 1780) presented a paper on what may have been the first dinosaur bone examined by American scientists. In 1799 he published an article on the bones of the giant “megalonix” that Thomas Jefferson had deposited with the American Philosophical Society two years earlier. The essay, which appeared in the Society’s Transactions, is regarded as the first technical study of professional quality to be published by an American or in America in the field of vertebrate paleontology. One historian has called the achievement “almost incredible in view of the paleontological naïveté of his associates and of the lack of comparative materials.” Wistar also collaborated in Jefferson’s efforts to obtain the bones of the mastodon and associated animals, and he studied specimens returned from the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Some of his observations on the latter were published posthumously in the Transactions .

Wistar was as popular with his professional colleagues as he was with Philadelphia’s literati. He was particularly known for his hospitality, and his home was the weekly meeting place of students and scientists, including locals and distinguished foreign visitors. The physician Charles Caldwell (1772-1853, APS 1796) recalled later that “The company met, without ceremony, on a stated evening, where in the midst of a succession of suitable refreshments, the time passed away, oftentimes until a late hour, in agreeable, varied, and instructive discourse.” The “company” included, for example, Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859, APS 1804), who was a guest of honor when he visited Philadelphia in 1800, as well as the French botanist François Andre Michaux (1749-1802). A frequent attendant after his arrival in the United States in 1812 was the Abbé Corrêa da Serra (1750–1823, APS 1812), the Portuguese diplomat and naturalist. Wistar, who shared with the Abbé a serous interest in botany, became his close friend and accompanied him on several expeditions. The Wistar Parties were so popular that several leading members of the American Philosophical Society, including Stephen DuPonceau (1760-1844, APS 1791), continued to host them regularly after Wistar’s death.

Wistar was active in numerous scientific and learned organizations. He was elected to the American Philosophical Society in 1787. He served as its curator in 1793 and vice-president in 1795, before succeeding Thomas Jefferson as president in 1815, a position he held until his death. Wistar was especially supportive of the Historical and Literary Committee that was established in 1815 to serve as the collection, research, and publishing arm of the Society. He was elected a Fellow of the College of Physicians in 1788, and he served as a trustee of the College of Philadelphia from 1789 to 1791. In 1815 he was elected an honorary member of the Literary and Philosophical Society of New York. The botanist Thomas Nuttall (1786-1859, APS 1817) honored Wistar by naming the plant genus Wisteria after him.

Wistar’s support of many progressive causes is reflected in his affiliation with a number of reform organizations. He was a founder of the Society for Circulating the Benefit of Vaccination, and he belonged to the Pennsylvania Prison Society, the Humane Society, and the Society for the Abolition of Slavery, of which he became president in 1813. In 1791 Wistar bought and then freed a slave “to extricate him from that degraded Situation.”

Caspar Wistar died in 1818 after a period of declining health. He was married twice, first in 1788 to Isabella Marshall, who died childless two years later. In 1798 he married Elizabeth Mifflin, with whom he had three children: Dr. Richard Mifflin Wistar, Dr. Mifflin Wistar, and Elizabeth Wistar. There were no grandchildren.

From the guide to the Biographical tributes to Caspar Wistar, 1918, 1918, (American Philosophical Society)

With a face as familiar, he wrote, as the man in the moon, Benjamin Franklin was one the most recognizable Americans of the eighteenth century, and one of the most written about. A scientist, inventor, pamphleteer, printer, politician, and diplomat, and above all an institution builder, Franklin's intellect and organizational skills, combined with a preternatural gift for crafting his image to appeal to a diverse array of audiences has ensured his lasting reputation.

The story of Franklin's life has become so thoroughly ingrained in American popular culture -- through his autobiography, if nothing else -- that it requires little more than the briefest recapitulation. Born in 1706 to a tallow chandler from Boston, Franklin ran away from an apprenticeship at his brother James' printing establishment in 1723 to strike out on his own in that other colonial metropolis, Philadelphia. After barely a year in the Quaker city, the restless and ambitious young man traveled to England to purchase an outfit and refine his printing skills, and within a short time after returning in October 1726, he established a reputation as the finest printer in the city. His position not only as a printer, but a writer was clinched in 1729 with his purchase of the city's most important newspaper, the Pennsylvania Gazette and with the appearance of his widely popular Poor Richard's Almanac in 1732. Equally important, in 1730 he was appointed to the lucrative position of official printer to the Province, testimony to his abilities as a printer and a harbinger of what would come as a politician.

From early in his career, Franklin fashioned himself as a promoter of the public weal, using his extraordinary organizational skills to establish a series of organizations that buoyed the city's intellectual and cultural life. His discussion and mutual improvement society, the Junto (1727) was followed by the Library Company of Philadelphia (1731) and a suite of other organizations that included, among others, the city's first fire company, an insurance company, and an academy that later grew into the University of Pennsylvania. Franklin was also the principal founder and first secretary of the nation's first learned society, the American Philosophical Society (1743). Although subsequent events ensured that he would be largely an absentee leader for much of its early history, his colleagues in the APS considered Franklin so essential to the enterprise that they elected him president when the Society was revived in the late 1760s. Although he lived in Philadelphia for a total of only about seven of the twenty one years in which he was president of the Society, he exerted an enormous influence over the selection of its membership and its priorities.

Part of Franklin's importance to the Library Company and the APS, and to the civic culture of Philadelphia more generally, lay in the reputation he earned as America's preeminent savant. His ingenuity in invention was renowned, and was piqued by his reputation for bringing the same concerns for public welfare to mechanical work as to intellectual. His Franklin stove (1742), for example, was hailed as safer and more efficient than its predecessors, and Franklin was credited (sometimes erroneously) with a host of other inventions, from swim fins to bifocals, bulls-eye "busy-body" mirrors, the lightning rod, and extensible arms.

Franklin's scientific work, however, was the source of even greater fame. Beginning in 1745, he conducted a series of electrical experiments that brought him international acclaim, demonstrating the identity of lightning and electricity and later championing the single fluid theory of electricity and formulating a theory of the conservation of electrical charge. On the basis of this work, he was made a fellow of the Royal Society in 1756 and was given honorary degrees by Harvard and Oxford. Franklin was also noted for research on oceanic currents and for contributions to knowledge in dozens of other areas.

Scarcely a decade after his emigration to Philadelphia, Franklin began to turn to more direct participation in the political life of the colonies. He was elected clerk of the Pennsylvania Assembly in 1736 and Postmaster at Philadelphia in 1737, eventually becoming one of two deputy Postmasters General for the colonies in 1753. Having amassed his fortune, Franklin retired from active involvement in business affairs in 1749 to devote himself to formal politics. A fierce partisan in the anti-Proprietary faction of the Pennsylvania Assembly during the Seven Years' War, he was the prime mover behind the Albany Plan of Union of 1754, in which the prospect of uniting all of the British North American colonies under a single government was first proposed as a measure to improve mutual defense and for "other important general purposes." Although the plan was ultimately not approved, Franklin emerged as a major figure in colonial politics.

In July 1757, Franklin was dispatched by the General Assembly to go to London and request that the Proprietors' be stripped of control of the government in Pennsylvania. He spent most of the next eighteen years in England as colonial agent for Pennsylvania and other colonies, weathering the imperial crises of the 1760s and although he was steadfast in directing his efforts toward reconciliation of the growing differences between the colonies and crown, he drifted gradually into the radical Whig camp.

Franklin's quickening into the revolutionary cause came in January 1774 when he was called before the Privy Council for Plantation Affairs to answer charges that he had stolen letters from Thomas Hutchinson, Governor of Massachusetts, with the intent of positioning himself to usurp Hutchinson's seat and inciting unrest. Stripped of his position as postmaster and impaired in his ability to operate, Franklin returned to Pennsylvania in 1775 and was elected to the Continental Congress. In the following year, he was selected as a member of the drafting committee for the Declaration of Independence and later helped frame the Articles of Confederation. From 1776 until 1785, he was appointed by the American government as Commissioner to the Court of France, helping to sway King Louis to support the American cause with money and arms and to negotiate the peace between the United States and Great Britain.

Franklin remained active into his eighties, serving as a delegate and key contributor to the federal Constitutional Convention in 1787. A late convert to antislavery, he also became the first president of the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery. Franklin died in Philadelphia in April 17, 1790. His common law wife, Deborah Read, predeceased him in 1774. He left behind his estranged illegitimate son William (in exile in England), his daughter Sarah Franklin Bache, and grandsons William Temple Franklin and Benjamin Franklin Bache.

From the guide to the Benjamin Franklin Papers, 1730-1791, (American Philosophical Society)

Isaac Hays (1796-1879, APS 1863) was an ophthamologist and medical publications editor. He was a surgeon at Will's Ophthalmic Hospital in Philadelphia (1834-1854) and was one of the first to study colorblindness and astigmatism.

Isaac Minis Hays (1847-1925, APS 1886 ) was a Philadelphia physician, ophthalmologist, editor and librarian. He was the editor of the American Journal of the Medical Sciences from 1878-1890. He later became Secretary and Librarian of the American Philosophical Society from 1897-1922. As A.P.S. Librarian, he collected and cataloged the great mass of Benjamin Franklin’s papers for the American Philosophical Society. He also published a Calendar of Franklin Papers (1907) and a C[h]ronology of Benjamin Franklin (2nd ed., 1913).

Hays was born in Philadelphia on July 26, 1847, the son of Dr. Isaac Hays (1796-1879, APS 1863) and Sarah Minis. He was sent to the Classical Institute for his secondary education, and afterward matriculated at the University of Pennsylvania. He graduated A.B. in 1866 and immediately entered Penn’s medical school, graduating M.D. in 1868. Remaining an extra year, he took a Master of Arts degree in 1869. Also, in 1869 he became the assistant editor to his father Isaac Hays, who was the editor of the American Journal of Medical Sciences.

Hays wrote or edited several works in his field of ophthalmology, including the American edition of J. Soelberg Wells’s Treatise on the Diseases of the Eye (1873) and a statistical survey, entitled “Blindness: Its Frequency, Causes and Prevention” for William F. Norris and Charles A. Oliver’s System of Diseases of the Eye (1897). However, Hays took little pleasure in the practice of medicine (having few patients) or in medical research.

Hays succeeded his father as editor of the American Journal of Medical Sciences, after his father’s death in 1878. Already as assistant editor, he had commissioned four historical articles to demonstrate American contributions over the previous century to Medicine, Surgery, Obstetrics and Gynecology. These appeared in successive quarterly issues of the Journal in 1876, and were reprinted as a monograph entitled, A Century of American Medicine . Several years after becoming editor, Hays converted a sister publication of the Journal, the monthly Medical News and Library, to a weekly format. He conceived the publication, containing extracts from other journals, as a “medium” for “transmitting the earliest intelligence of medical discoveries and progress,” and recruited special correspondents in other cities for this purpose. These endeavors gave Hays a notable reputation as a medical editor.

Hays’s earliest experiences with libraries came after his election as a Fellow of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia in 1872. The following year he was appointed to the Library Committee of the College, and pursued its work with creativity and energy. One of his greatest concerns was to see that the College library was properly cataloged, and he visited the Library Company of Philadelphia and the Boston Medical Library to learn about the costs, materials and systems for cataloging the collection. He even concerned himself with the particulars of the library’s operations, designing charge slips, helping to draft rules for the use of the library, drafting a new, expanded schedule for its hours of operation, binding library and archival materials and hiring its first professional staff. As the College Librarian became more experienced in his post, the need for the Library Committee to be involved in the day-to-day operations lessened. Hays was displeased by this “restriction” in the Committee’s authority, and offered his resignation in 1893.

Hays’ earlier editorial and library committee assignments would be excellent preparation for his work at the American Philosophical Society. He was elected to membership in the Society in February of 1886, and eleven years later became one of its secretaries. He was also appointed acting librarian to replace of Dr. George H. Horn (1840-1897, APS 1869), who had fallen ill. Within a few weeks of his new appointments he began initiatives for changes that would occupy the Society for a quarter of a century. Serving as the A.P.S. Librarian, secretary and editor, Hays was effectively its first executive officer. During the twenty-five year period from 1897-1922 he is said to have written 48,000 letters on Society business and edited twenty-seven volumes of the Proceedings and Transactions . With a passion for order, a keen analytical sense, and abundant physical energy, he became the driving force behind all of the Society’s work.

Drawing upon his experiences on the Library Committee of the College of Physicians, Hays brought needed changes to the Society’s Library. On his appointment as Acting Librarian, he was invited to sit on the Library Committee and began making important recommendations. Later, after the death of the former Librarian Dr. Horn in 1898, Hays became an ex offico member of the Library Committee. Among his first recommendations were the establishment of rules governing the operation of the Library, the purchase of a card catalog, and the hiring of a professional cataloger. Other library staff was added over the next few years, totaling four by 1901. For a library cataloging system Hays adopted the Dewey Decimal Classification system to replace the “philosophical” classification of former A.P.S. Librarian J. Peter Lesley (1819-1903, APS 1856). Next, he turned to the Library’s neglected books and periodicals that were badly in need of binding. He identified and sold duplicate volumes and withdrew books outside the Library’s fields of interest, donating many pamphlets on Unitarian theology (garnered by the Society’s first Librarian John Vaughan (1756-1841, APS 1784)) to the First Unitarian Church. Hays extended the hours during which the Library was open to readers, and also asked for increased space. One of his most impressive accomplishments was a fifteen-year project to bind and catalog the papers of Benjamin Franklin. Having proceeded with the organization of the Library, Hays now turned to the A.P.S. Committee on Historical Manuscripts for advice about how to make the Society’s many large collections accessible to researchers. On the Committee’s recommendation calendars were prepared for the papers of Richard Henry Lee, Nathanael Greene and General George Weedon. Hays is best known outside the Society for promoting the Benjamin Franklin papers, donated to the Society by Charles Pemberton Fox in 1840. This collection was little known or used for much of the nineteenth-century, although Paul L. Ford used it extensively for his 1899 portrait, The Many-Sided Franklin . Shortly after Hays’ appointment as Librarian, A.P.S. member Talcott Williams (1849-1928, APS 1888) suggested to him that a calendar be prepared for the Franklin papers. Hays presented the idea of a Franklin Collection calendar to the A.P.S. Council along with a proposal that the Society celebrate the bicentennial of Franklin’s birth in 1906. Neither proposal was adopted. Consequently, he changed his tactics. In the final paper of a scientific session at the General Meeting that year, the Chairman of the Library Committee Joseph G. Rosengarten ( 1835-1921, APS 1891) described the content and character of the Franklin papers, expressing the hope that a calendar might be prepared for the collection in the not too distant future-“certainly by the two hundredth anniversary of the birth of our founder.” In the business meeting that followed Hays gained unanimous consent for a committee “to prepare a plan for the appropriate celebration of the bicentennial of the birth of Franklin.”

The plans for a bicentennial celebration of Franklin’s birth drew widespread support, from the U.S. government, the Pennsylvania legislature, and the city of Philadelphia. On April 20, 1906 dignitaries from across the nation and the globe assembled in Philadelphia to celebrate the bicentennial. These included Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, leading the congressional delegation; Ambassador Jean A.A. J. Jusserand (1855-1932, APS 1907), representing the French Republic; as well as delegates from 127 learned societies. In addition to addresses on Franklin by leading scholars, there were luncheons, dinners and two academic convocations. There were also memorial ceremonies at Franklin’s grave. The grateful members of the Society recognized Hays achievement with an illuminated scroll and an engraved silver cup. After the departure of guests, the Committee on the Franklin Bicentennial directed Hays to prepare a memorial volume and “to secure the services of a corps of assistants to complete the Calendar of the Franklin papers.” The calendar appeared in five large volumes in 1908.

As A.P.S. Secretary Hays resuscitated the spirit of the Society just as he had revived its Library. By the last decade of the nineteenth century, attendance at the Society’s semi-monthly meetings was meager. The number of attendees rarely reached thirty. In 1901 Hays proposed that the Society hold an annual general meeting, lasting several days to attract distant members instead of the semi-monthly meetings. His plan was approved, and the first general meeting was held on April 3-5, 1902 and was a resounding success. 115 members attended, and such meetings became a regular feature of the Society’s calendar. Sometimes the general meetings were planned around an anniversary or special theme like the centennial of Darwin’s birth. In 1910 ordinary meetings were reduced to one a month, and in 1936 monthly meetings were dropped completely in favor of a second general meeting.

Hays’ other major initiative within the American Philosophical Society was less successful. The reawakening of the members’ interest in the Society and its mission naturally produced a desire for larger quarters. This was especially the case, since member attendance at general meetings had grown significantly and the library had outstripped the available space. As a matter of fact, in 1912 some books from the Library’s collection had to be put into storage at a neighboring bank. At this time in Philadelphia the new Parkway was taking shape under the leadership of former Fairmount Park Commissioner Eli Kirk Price, Jr. (1860-1933, APS 1916), who based the plans upon the model of the Champs ď Elysees in Paris. Hays was among the Society’s members, who voted to leave the Philosophical Hall facility on Independence Square and to construct a new building at 16th and Cherry streets. To this end he mounted a fund-raising campaign, playing a large part in the related meetings, discussions and publicity. However, the advent of World War I diverted the attention of the members and the public for a number of years. In 1922 before the relocation scheme could be realized, the city of Philadelphia decided to use the 16th and Cherry Street tract for a park.

In the spring of 1922 Hays shocked the members of the American Philosophical Society with an announcement of his retirement. The members were genuinely dismayed, since few active members could recall a time when he had not been in charge. After his resignation, Hays continued to be an active and outspoken A.P.S. member. Among his activities, he was appointed Chairman of the Committee on Library, and in this capacity he wrote an article on Benjamin Franklin’s Canada pamphlet entitled, The Interest of Great Britain Considered (1760), as well as answering questions from a new generation of Franklin scholars such as George Simpson Eddy. In 1924 Hays served as secretary of a special committee to plan an international scientific conference to celebrate the Society’s two hundredth anniversary in 1926. He presented his plan for the celebration on May 27, 1925. Unfortunately, he would not live to see it realized. Ten days later, the seventy-seven year old Hays died of a heart attack on June 5, during a heat wave of unseasonable intensity. In his will Hays directed that after the death of his daughters, the income of his considerable estate should be paid to the American Philosophical Society, the institution he had served for thirty-seven years.

From the guide to the Isaac and I. Minis Hays papers, Circa 1820-1925, (American Philosophical Society)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn John Shaw Billings Correspondence with Libraries of the American Philosophical Society and the College of Physicians of Philadelphia Microfilm Copies, 1878-1916 History of Medicine Division. National Library of Medicine
creatorOf Hays, I. Minis (Isaac Minis), 1847-1925. Correspondence with Henry Charles Lea, 1883-1906. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
creatorOf Earle, Pliny, 1809-1892. Papers, 1806-1897. Duke University, Medical Center Library & Archives
referencedIn See, T. J. J. (Thomas Jefferson Jackson), b. 1866. Papers of T.J.J. See, 1887-1960 (bulk 1897-1930). Library of Congress
creatorOf Hays, I. Minis (Isaac Minis), 1847-1925. Biographical tributes to Caspar Wistar, 1918. American Philosophical Society Library
creatorOf A note on the history of the Jefferson manuscript draught of the Declaration of Independence in the Library of the American Philosophical Society, 1898, 1898 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn American Philosophical Society Archives, 1743-1984 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn American Philosophical Society Archives. Record Group IIi, 1897 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn William Roscoe Thayer papers, 1762-1927 (inclusive), 1872-1921 (bulk). Houghton Library.
creatorOf Earle, Pliny, 1809-1892. Papers, 1806-1897. Duke University, Medical Center Library & Archives
referencedIn American Philosophical Society Archives. Record Group IIg, 1887-1891 American Philosophical Society
creatorOf I. Minis (Isaac Minis) Hays correspondence, ca. 1880s-1925, Circa 1880-1925 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Billings, John S. (John Shaw), 1838-1913. Correspondence in the American Philosophical Society Library and the College of Physicians of Philadelphia Library, 1878-1916 [microform]. National Library of Medicine
creatorOf Biographical tributes to Caspar Wistar, 1918, 1918 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn T. J. J. See Papers, 1887-1960, (bulk 1897-1930) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
creatorOf Isaac and I. Minis Hays papers, Circa 1820-1925 American Philosophical Society
creatorOf Benjamin Franklin Papers, 1730-1791 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn American Philosophical Society Archives. Record Group IIj, 1898-1988 American Philosophical Society
creatorOf Hays, I. Minis (Isaac Minis), 1847-1925. A note on the history of the Jefferson manuscript draught of the Declaration of Independence in the Library of the American Philosophical Society, 1898. American Philosophical Society Library
creatorOf Hays, I. Minis (Isaac Minis), 1847-1925. Correspondence, ca. 1880s-1925. American Philosophical Society Library
creatorOf College of Physicians of Philadelphia. Committee on the Revision of the Pharmacopoeia (1877-1880). Reports, 1877-1880. College of Physicians of Philadelphia
Role Title Holding Repository
Direct Relationships
Relation Name
associatedWith American Philosophical Society. Library. corporateBody
associatedWith Bache, Catherine Wistar, 1770-1820 person
associatedWith Bache, Franklin, 1792-1864 person
associatedWith Bache, Sarah Franklin, 1743-1808 person
associatedWith Barton, Thomas Pennant, 1803-1869 person
associatedWith Beck, John B., (John Brodhead), 1794-1851 person
associatedWith Bertin, G. person
associatedWith Bertin, G. family
associatedWith Bertin, G. family
associatedWith Bigelow, Jacob, 1786-1879 person
associatedWith Billings, John S. (John Sedgwick), 1869-1928 person
associatedWith Billings, John S. (John Shaw), 1838-1913. person
associatedWith Bonaparte, Charles Lucian, 1803-1857 person
associatedWith Bowditch, Henry I., (Henry Ingersoll), 1808-1892 person
associatedWith Breck, Samuel, 1771-1862 person
associatedWith Brigham, Amariah, 1798-1849 person
associatedWith Brongniart, Alexandre, 1770-1847 person
associatedWith Cabell, J. L., (James Lawrence), 1813-1889 person
associatedWith Caldwell, Charles, 1772-1853 person
associatedWith College of Physicians of Philadelphia. Committee on the Revision of the Pharmacopoeia (1877-1880). corporateBody
associatedWith Combe, George, 1788-1858. person
associatedWith Coxe, John Redman, 1773-1864 person
associatedWith Crittenden, John J., (John Jordan), 1787-1863 person
associatedWith Dewees, William, 1768-1841 person
associatedWith Drake, Daniel, 1785-1852 person
associatedWith Draper, John William, 1811-1882 person
associatedWith Earle, Pliny, 1809-1892. person
associatedWith Featherstonhaugh, George William, 1780-1866 person
associatedWith Fisher, John D., (John Dix), 1797-1850 person
associatedWith Flint, Austin person
associatedWith Flint, Austin. person
associatedWith Franklin, Benjamin, 1706-1790 person
associatedWith Franklin, Deborah Read Rogers, 1708-1774 person
associatedWith Franklin, William, 1731-1813 person
associatedWith Franklin, William Temple, 1760-1823 person
associatedWith Furness, Horace Howard, 1833-1912. person
associatedWith Godman, John D., (John Davidson), 1794-1830 person
associatedWith Gross, Samuel D. (Samuel David), 1805-1884. person
associatedWith Hays, Isaac, 1796-1879 person
associatedWith Hayward, George, 1791-1863 person
associatedWith Henry, Joseph, 1797-1878 person
associatedWith Hodge, Sarah Bache, 1798-1849 person
associatedWith Holmes, Oliver Wendell, 1809-1894 person
associatedWith Jackson, James, 1796-1870 person
associatedWith Jacobi, A. (Abraham), 1830-1919. person
associatedWith Jefferson, Thomas, 1743-1826. person
associatedWith Jusserand, J. J. (Jean Jules), 1855-1932. person
associatedWith Keating, William Hypolitus, 1799-1840 person
associatedWith Lea, Henry Charles, 1825-1909. person
associatedWith Lea, Isaac, 1792-1886. person
associatedWith Lee, Richard Henry, 1794-1865. person
associatedWith Leet, Isaac person
associatedWith Lesueur, Charles Alexandre, 1778-1846 person
associatedWith Lewell, Thomas person
associatedWith Longmore, Robert person
associatedWith Marsh, George Perkins, 1801-1882 person
associatedWith Mecom, Jane Franklin, 1712-1794 person
associatedWith Meddlemore, Richard person
associatedWith Nuttall, Thomas, 1786-1859 person
associatedWith Ord, George, 1781-1866 person
associatedWith Piersol, George A., (George Arthur) person
associatedWith Reed, William B., (William Bradford), 1806-1876 person
associatedWith Say, Thomas, 1787-1834 person
associatedWith See, T. J. J. (Thomas Jefferson Jackson), b. 1866. person
associatedWith Sewall, Thomas, 1786 or 7-1845 person
associatedWith Smith, N. R., (Nathan Ryno), 1797-1877 person
associatedWith Stillé, Alfred, 1813-1900. person
correspondedWith Thayer, William Roscoe, 1859-1923 person
associatedWith Vaughan, John, 1756-1841. person
associatedWith Warren, John Collins, 1778-1856 person
associatedWith Welch, William Henry, 1850-1934. person
associatedWith Williams, Jonathan. person
associatedWith Wistar, Caspar, 1761-1818 person
Place Name Admin Code Country
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Marriage and Family Life
Americans Abroad
Social Life and Customs
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Medicine--United States
Slaves, slavery, slave trade
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Birth 1847

Death 1925

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