University of Chicago Library

Guide to the Richard Smith Dewey Papers 1870-1933

© 2012 University of Chicago Library


Processed with assistance from the CLIR funded Black Metropolis Research Consortium "Color Curtain Processing Project."

Descriptive Summary


Dewey, Richard Smith. Papers



Manuscript Number:

Crerare Ms 82


1 linear foot (2 boxes)


Hanna Holborn Gray Special Collections Research Center
University of Chicago Library
1100 East 57th Street
Chicago, Illinois 60637 U.S.A.


Richard Smith Dewey (1845-1933) was an American psychiatrist and pioneer in the treatment of mental illnesses. His papers, dating from 1870 to 1933, consist of correspondence, writings, photographs, newspaper clippings, and other memorabilia relating both to the professional career and personal life of Dewey.

Information on Use


The collection is open for research.


When quoting material from this collection, the preferred citation is: Dewey, Richard Smith. Papers (Crerar Ms 82), [Box #, Folder #], Hanna Holborn Gray Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library

Biographical Note

Richard Smith Dewey (1845-1933) was an American psychiatrist and pioneer in the treatment of mental illnesses. Dewey was born in Forestville, New York and died in La Canada, California. He attended the University of Michigan from 1864-1869, graduating with his M.D. He was a practicing physician in Brooklyn, N.Y. and abroad as a volunteer assistant surgeon in the German Army during the Franco-Prussian War. From 1894 to 1897, he was the editor of The American Journal of Insanity, which later became The American Journal of Psychiatry. From 1879 to 1893, he served as superintendent of the Eastern Hospital for the Insane at Kankakee, in Illinois and established a private practice in Chicago. In 1895, Dewey became the Medical Director of the Milwaukee Sanitarium in Wauwatosa, WI, a position he held until 1914. Richard Smith Dewey was a well-known and respected scholar on the subject of mental illness and a pioneer in the modern institutional care of people suffering from mental illness. In addition to his medical career, Dewey was an accomplished musician, and composed a number of patriotic anthems.

Scope Note

The Richard Smith Dewey Papers (1870-1933) consist of two boxes and is arranged into five different series: "Correspondence," "Writings," "Photographs," "Clippings," and "Memorabilia." The Richard Smith Dewey papers provide a unique glimpse into the early developmental stages of psychology in America and the movement to reform the treatment of those suffering from mental illnesses. They also a firsthand account of the Franco Prussian War and its military hospitals. Researchers interested in early American psychological theory and practices would find this collection to be a valuable tool.

Series I (1870-1933) includes professional and personal letters to, from, and about Dewey and is arranged in chronological order. The letters provide a unique look into both his professional and personal life. Correspondents include the American Journal of Psychiatry, Dorothea Dix, Havelock Ellis, Jane Addams. Also significant are letters describing Dewey's experiences in the Franco-Prussian War.

Series II comprises of professional and personal writings (circa 1871-1933) authored by Dewey. The earliest piece of writing included is his diary from the Franco Prussian war written in 1871. His writings reveal his thoughts and ideas on mental illnesses. Some important subject areas found in this series included psychoanalysis and diagnosing insanity; especially on an individual level. This series also provides a window into his creative side seen in the folder "Verses."

Series III includes multiple photographs of Dewey at several stages of his life (circa 1889-1930). Mostly unidentified and undated, these photographs are primarily personal.

Series IV includes several newspaper clippings (1880-1893) regarding Dewey's career at Kankakee's Eastern Hospital for the Insane and documents his politically charged resignation. This series was organized chronologically.

Series V includes several pieces of memorabilia (1893- 1937) that pertain to Dewey's career and personal life. This series includes certificates, postcards professional rulebooks, and manuscripts.

Related Resources

The following related resources are located in the Department of Special Collections:


Subject Headings


Series I: Correspondence, 1870-1933

Box 1   Folder 1

Correspondence to American Papers, 1870-1871

Box 1   Folder 2

Richard Dewey Letters to Mother and sister 1870-1871

Box 1   Folder 3

Correspondence, 1889

Box 1   Folder 4

Correspondence, 1893

Box 1   Folder 5

Dewey's Resignation, 1893

Box 1   Folder 6

Correspondence (1885-1932) and 4 film strips from 1948

Box 1   Folder 7

Correspondence, 1870-1933

Box 1   Folder 8

American Journal of Psychiatry, 1926-1933

Series II: Writings, circa 1871-1933

Box 1   Folder 9

Professional Writings, undated

Box 1   Folder 10

Professional Writings, undated

Box 1   Folder 11

Professional Writings, undated

Box 1   Folder 12

Psychoanalysis, undated

Box 1   Folder 13

Papers and Notes on Insanity, undated

Box 1   Folder 14

Case Study, undated

Series III: Photographs, circa 1889-1930

Box 2    Folder 1

Diary, undated

Box 2    Folder 2

Verse, undated

Box 2    Folder 3

Photographs of Persons and Scenes Associated with Dewey

Box 2    Folder 4

Photographs, 1889-1920

Box 2    Folder 5

Personal Photographs, 1917-1930

Series IV: Clippings, 1880-1893

Box 2    Folder 6

Clippings Related to Kankakee Hospital 1880, 1888

Box 2    Folder 7

Clippings on Dewey's Resignation, 1893

Box 2    Folder 8

Clippings on Dewey's Resignation, 1893

Series V: Memorabilia, 1893- 1937

Box 2    Folder 9

Rule Book and Booklets, undated

Box 2    Folder 10

Catalogue of Paintings Presented to Kankakee Hospital and Pamphlets on Rights of the Insane, undated

Box 2    Folder 11

Certificates of Membership, 1893 -1921

Box 2    Folder 12

Travel Postcards and Memorabilia, 1870-1871

Box 2    Folder 13

Tributes, 1937