UT Health Science Center San Antonio

Guide to the Crawford Williamson Long Collection

Descriptive Summary and Abstract

Creator Long, Crawford Williamson, 1815-1878
Title: Crawford Williamson Long Collection
Inclusive dates: ca. 1854 - 1992
Abstract: Dr. Crawford Williamson Long, an American physician, is best known for the discovery of modern anesthesia. On March 30, 1842, Long removed a small tumor from the neck of James Venable using ether. Unfortunately for Long, he did not publish his major discovery until 1849. As a result, another physician, William Morton, had (1846) given a public demonstration of the use of ether. On June 18, 1879, the National Eclectic Medical Association passed a resolution declaring Long as the discoverer of anesthesia. The Long collection contains the only know picture (a ferrotype) of Dr. Long. Other materials in the collection include correspondence regarding the history of the ferrotype, photographs of the ferrotype and of a painting of Long, and news clippings and publications regarding Dr. Long and the acquisition of the ferrotype by the archives.
Identification: MS 28
Extent: 1 box
Language: Materials are in written in English.
Repository University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, UTHSC Libraries, University Archives, San Antonio, TX 78229-3900

Biographical Note

Crawford Williamson Long was born on November 1, 1815, in Danielsville, Georgia. His parents James and Elizabeth Ware were an established family in the Georgia community. He was named after famous Georgian, William H. Crawford, who served as United State Secretary of War from 1815-1816 and ran for President of the United States in 1824. Long’s Grandfather served in the Revolutionary War. One of his closest friends in school, Alexander H. Stephen, later became the Vice President of the Confederate States of American during the Civil War. Long has a long list of family and dear friends that contributed greatly in both politics and business, which probably explains his successful medical career.

After graduating in 1835, he taught at the school his father founded for one year. It was at the young age of twenty-one that he dedicated himself to a career in medicine. Long began his medical studies under the mentorship of Dr. George R. Gant of Jefferson, Georgia. Following a year of practice, Long entered the Medical School at Transylvania University , Lexington, Kentucky in 1836. He later transferred to the University of Pennsylvania and received his medical degree in 1839. His internship at New York Hospital helped establish him as a skilled surgeon. After his eighteen months at NYH, he returned to his home state of Georgia in 1841 and took over the practice of his mentor, Dr. Grant, in Jefferson.

In 1840 it wasn’t uncommon for young college students to engage in Nitrous Oxide (laughing gas) parties. Several people asked Long to sponsor a nitrous oxide party similar to those taking place around the country. Long, later writing about that episode in the South Medical and Surgical Journal (1849), told his friends that he didn’t have nitrous oxide but suggested ether. While they were “high” on ether, Long noted that his friends were “feeling no pain.” This triggered in Long the idea to pursue ether as an anesthetizing agent for surgical procedures. He performed his first surgical procedure using the gas on March 30, 1842, when he removed a tumor form the neck of a patient. Though he performed more surgeries using anesthesia over the next several years, Long did not publish his findings. He made no secret of his discovery among his friends and colleagues in Jefferson. Some local residents thought that Long was engaging in witchcraft. Other believed that he was disturbing the natural order of things and that pain was God’s way of cleansing the soul.

On December 1846 an editorial ran in the Medical Examiner about a Boston dentist named William Morton who claimed to have used ether first. The January 1847 issue featured several articles about his various experiments in etherization. After reading these reports, Long began writing his own account of his discovery and collected notarized letters from former patients. In 1849 he presented his findings to the Medical College of Georgia (later Georgia Health Science University) in Augusta. An article about his discovery was published in the Southern Medical and Surgical Journal in December 1849, but Long did not receive full recognition for his discovery in his lifetime.

Long married Caroline Swain in 1842, and they had twelve children. In 1851 they moved to Athens, where Long opened a medical practice and pharmacy with his brother, Robert. He remained in Athens during the Civil War and served as surgeon to both Union and Confederate soldiers. He died on June 16, 1878.

On June 18, 1879 the National Eclectic Medical Association passed a resolution declaring Long as the discoverer of anesthesia. Since that time he has been recognized by medical bodies all over the world and has been memorialized by monuments, statues, paintings, a U.S. postage stamp, and Doctor’s day, celebrated every March 30. A museum in his honor stands at the site of his medical practice in Jefferson.


"Crawford Long (1815-1878)," The New Georgia Encyclopedia, http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/nge/Article.jsp?id=h-1227&hl=y

"Crawford Williamson Long." Oxford Dictionary of Scientists, http://www.answers.com/topic/crawford-long

Morales, Miguel, "The History of Medicine in Stamps: Dr. Crawford W. Long. "Anesthesia History Association Newsletter , April 1986: 4(2)

Scope and Contents

The Crawford Long collection includes the only know photograph, a ferrotype, of Crawford Long. The collection also contains correspondence, photographs, publications, memorabilia, and news clippings documenting the purchase of the ferrotype and providing biographical information on Crawford Long and information on the background of the picture.


Arrangement of Collection

The collection is organized in 1 box in 6 series as follows:
Series 1: Correspondence
Series 2: Photographs
Series 3: News Clippings
Series 4: Memorabilia
Series 5: Publications


Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research use. Materials may be viewed in the reading room of the P. I. Nixon Medical Historical Library, located on the 5th floor of the Briscoe Library at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.

Physical Access

Some materials are very brittle or torn on the edges and may require an electronic copy or photocopy for use.

Index Terms

Long, Crawford Williamson, 1815-1878
Anesthesiology - history - portraits
Anesthetics, Inhalation - history - portraits
Ether, Ethyl - portraits

Document Types

Newspaper Clippings

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Identification of item], in the Crawford Williamson Long Collection, MS 28, University Archives, UTHSC Libraries, The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.


The ferrotype in this collection was donated in 1986 to the University Archives by Dr. Scott E. Smith, a resident in anesthesiology at Medical Center Hospital (formerly University Hospital) in San Antonio, in honor of Dr. Maurice Albin, professor of anesthesiology at the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and Director of Neuro-anesthesiology at Medical Center Hospital (University Hospital) and the VA Hospital. The picture was discovered at a book fair in Austin, Texas and purchased by Dr. Smith. It had originally been purchased by an antique dealer in Gainesville, Georgia from a family descendent of Dr. Crawford Long.

Collection History

Dr. Scott E. Smith donated the Crawford Williamson Long ferrotype to the University Archives of the University Libraries, the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio in 1986. Other materials in the collection were added by Joyce Ray, archivist working in the University Archives.

Processing Information

Finding aid created by: Mellisa DeThorne and revised by Anne Comeaux in July 2012

Detailed Description of Collection


Series 1. Correspondence

Folder Item
1 1 Letter from Joyce Ray to Tracy D Bearden (Georgia Historical Society), Jan. 7, 1978.
2 Letter from Scott E. Smith (Bexar County Hospital District), Feb. 18, 1986.
3 Letter from Bernard Rogers (Bookseller) to Virginia Bowden, Feb. 19, 1986.
4 Letter from Patrick Sim (Librarian, Wood library-Museum of Anesthesiology), March 12, 1986.
5 Letter from Patrick Sim (Librarian, Wood Library-Museum of Anesthesiology), March 18, 1986.
6 Letter from Joyce Ray to Gail Miller (Photograph Curator-Georgia Dept. of Archives & History), March 19, 1986
7 Letter from Wilson Page (Deputy Archivist, University of Georgia), April 4, 1986.
8 Letter from John P. Brown (UTHSCSA Chairman of Community Dentistry), April 7, 1986.
9 Letter from Joyce Ray to John P. Brown (UTHSCSA Chairman of Community Dentistry), April 11, 1986.
10 Letter from Gail Miller (Prints Archivist) to Joyce ray, April 11, 1986.
11 Letter from Gwen Johnson (Curator, Crawford Long Museum Association), April 15, 1986.
12 Letter from Nelson Morgan (Manuscripts Assistant, Univ. of Georgia Libraries) to Joyce Ray, April 23, 1986.
13 Letter from John A. Woods (Appraiser) to Joyce Ray, May 9, 1986.
14 Letter from Marianne Bankert (Anesthesia History Association Member) to Joyce Ray, May 12, 1986.
15 Letter from Joyce Ray to Bernard Rogers (Bookseller), May 13, 1986.
16 Letter from Joyce Ray to Marianne Bankert (Anesthesia History Association Member) to Joyce Ray, June 16, 1986.
17 Letter from Maurice S. Albin (UTHSCSA Professor of Anesthesiology and Neurological Surgery) to Joyce Ray, June 16, 1986.
18 Letter from William B. Neff (CSA Liaison-Guedel Memorial Anesthesia Center) to Annette Richardson (Director of Information Services), June 16, 1986.
19 Letter from Joyce Ray, Briscoe Library Curator of Historical Collections to Gail Miller (Prints Archivist, Georgia Dept of Archives and History), June 16, 1986.
20 Letter from Joyce Ray to William B. Neff (California Society of Anesthesiologists), June 26, 1986.
21 Letter from Elizabeth Johnsor (Surveyor General Dept.) to Joyce Ray, June 26, 1986.
22 Letter from Joyce Ray to Bernard Rogers(Bookseller), July 1, 1986.
23 Letter from Joyce Ray to Nelson Morgan (Manuscripts Assistant, Univ. of Georgia Libraries), July 30, 1986.
24 Letter from Eugene Conner to Joyce Ray, August 3, 1986.
25 Letter from William Schupbach (Assistant Librarian, Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine), August 14, 1986.
26 Letter from Joyce Ray to Eugene Conner, August 20, 1986.
27 Letter from Eugene Conner to Joyce Ray, August 26, 1986.
28 Letter from Joyce Ray to William Schupbach (Assistant Library, Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine), Sept. 10, 1986.
29 Letter from Tracy D. Bearden (Archivist, Georgia Historical Society) to Joyce Ray, November 18, 1986.
30 Letter from Shelley A. Kick (Editor, BNI Quaterly) to Annette Richardson (Public Relations), May 7, 1987.
31 Letter from Virginia Bowden to Kenneth W. Boyd (Publisher, Cherokee Publishing Co.), Sept. 24, 1991.
32 Letter from Virginia Bowden to Kenneth W. Boyd (Publisher, Cherokee Publishing Co.), Sept. 26, 1991.
32 Letter from Maureen O’Reilly (Assistant Editor, The Medical Group USA), . March 11, 1992
33 Letter from Daniel H. Jones to Maureen M. O’Reill (Assistant Editor, The Medical Group USA), . March 24, 1992


Series 2. Photographs

Folder Item
2 1 1 original 2” X 3” photograph (ferrotype) made in 1850s of Dr. Crawford Williamson Long staging demonstration. The image shows a surgeon ostensibly preparing to amputate, an anesthetist monitoring the patient’s pulse and administering ether on a cloth, and an assistant standing by with instruments. The photograph was apparently made as a staged demonstration of etherization, probably between 1854 (the year the ferrotype process was invented) and 1860 (the outbreak of the Civil War). ca. 1855.
2 2 prints of Crawford Long staging demonstration.
3 4" X 6" negative of Crawford Long staging demonstration.
4 Strip of negatives of Crawford Long staging demonstration.
5 Copy of photograph of Crawford Long painting as printed in The First Anesthetic by Frank Kells Boland, Athens: U. of Ga Press, 1950
6 Copy of photograph of Crawford Long painting on display in the Main Banking Room of the Trust Company of Georgia.
7 Copy of steel engraving used for Crawford Long postage stamp
8 Copy of Crawford Long print from U. of Ga. Libraries
9 Copy of mural in Atlanta Hospital (Long in center) 1971


Series 3. News clippings

Folder Item
3 1 “Rare tintype donated to UTHSC,” The Recorder, April 17, 1986.


Series 4. Memorabilia

Folder Item
4 1 1 small Crawford Long pin, Oct. 26, 1992.
2 2 large Crawford Long pins


Series 5. Publications

Folder Item
5 1 "The Discovery of the Only Known Photo of Crawford Long."
2 Anesthesia Exhibit Catalog presented at the Texas Medical Association, Dallas, Texas, May 4-7, 1967.
3 "History of Neuroanesthesia,"BNI Quarterly, Spring 1987.
4 Georgia Place Names by Kenneth K. Krakow, 1975.
5 "Crawford W. Long in Athens."Georgia Pharmacist Quarterly, Fall 1985.
6 Coleman, Kenneth and Charles Stephen Gurr. "Long, Crawford Williamson". Dictionary of Georgia Biography. Athens, U. of Ga. Press, 1983.
7 "Nixon Library Acquires Rare Photograph", Anesthesia History Association Newsletter, April 1986.
8 "Anesthesiology pioneer. "American Medical News, April 11, 1986
9 University of Pennsylvania Memorial to Crawford Long
10 Milestones in Anesthesia, . Summer 1992.
2 copies
Picture of ferrotype on cover.