The Thomas Jefferson Bowles family digital collection includes notebooks, scrapbooks and other material related to the life, work, social involvement, and political activity of Thomas Jefferson Bowles ranging from 1886 to 1924. In addition, this digital collection includes a scrapbook and funeral address related to Homer Bowles, Thomas Jefferson Bowles' son, ranging from 1911-1935.
Thomas Jefferson Bowles was an influential medical doctor in Delaware County, Indiana. He studied medicine at the Medical College of Ohio followed by advanced training at Rush Medical College in Chicago and Bellevue Hospital in New York City. He began a medical practice in Windsor, Indiana and relocated to Muncie in 1874. Together with Drs. G.W.H. Kemper and J. Dillon, Bowles wrote the constitution and by-laws organizing the first medical society in Delaware County. At the time of his death on April 19, 1924 at the age of 87, he was known as the oldest practicing physician in the state of Indiana.
In addition to his work in medicine, Thomas Jefferson Bowles was a leading freethinker in Indiana and actively advocated the formation of opinions based entirely upon logic, reason and empiricism without regard for authority, traditions, or dogmas. He wrote extensively on ideas associated with freethought and was in demand as a speaker on the subject. Known as an agnostic and evolutionist, Dr. Bowles formed the Literary and Scientific Association of Muncie, the Literary Fireside Society, Home Circle and Ethical Society.
The notebooks and scrapbooks in this digital collection contain notes, speech manuscripts, and newspaper clippings documenting Thomas Jefferson Bowles' involvement in the Indiana Rationalists Association, interest in the National Liberal Party, and thoughts and remarks on a wide variety of other subjects including breathing, heredity, alcohol, diseases, religion, politics, history, and funerals. In addition, this digital collection includes a funeral address for Homer Bowles and a scrapbook created by Homer Bowles containing biographical newspaper articles and obituaries of prominent Delaware County citizens.
The material in this digital collection is a part of the Thomas Jefferson Bowles family papers, 1886-1984 in Archives and Special Collections.
Archives and Special Collections, MSS.097: Thomas Jefferson Bowles family papers