Take Note

An exploration of note-taking in Harvard University Collections
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Interactive Exhibition

39. William James's class notes on lectures at Harvard Medical School

Taking notes on writer's palsy

William James

Harvard Medical School, 1866-1867

Although he never practiced as a physician, William James—philosopher and psychologist best known for The Varieties of Religious Experience (1902)—received a degree from Harvard Medical School in 1869 and taught physiology during the 1870s. This notebook was used by James as a Harvard student just after the Civil War, as he attended the lectures of Henry J. Bigelow, Henry I. Bowditch, and other members of the medical faculty.

In a letter to his sister, Alice, from this period, James claimed he had just attended a lecture “which I could not understand a word of, but rather enjoyed the sensation of listening to for an hour.” Here William James—despite his wandering attention—has taken notes on the lectures of Charles Edouard Brown-Séquard on writer’s palsy, reflex paraplegia, and other diseases of the nervous system

HOLLIS Catalog: 006573935
William James; Harvard Medical School, Class notes



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