Thomas Lindsley Bradford


Thomas Bradford

The annals of homeopathy are graced to have had three great homeopathic historians: Wilhelm Ameke, William Harvey King, and Thomas Lindsley Bradford. Among this elite group, Dr. Bradford stands out as the most prolific and significant contributor to the understanding of our homeopathic heritage.

Thomas Lindsley Bradford was born June 6, 1847 in Francestown, New Hampshire. He attended Harvard Medical School from 1866-67, and received his degree from the Homoeopathic Medical College of Pennsylvania (HMCP) in 1869 under the tutelage of Adolph Lippe.

Years later, he described the events that caused the HMCP to split over whether or not pathology was compatible with homeopathy. The dispute occurred between Dr. Adolph Lippe, professor of materia medica, and Dr. Charles Raue, professor of pathology. Dr. Bradford wrote:

"As may be remembered, the new HMCP charter really made the institution a sort of joint stock company, in which the person holding the majority of the stock could control the entire college. At the close of the session of 1866- 1867, Dr. Adolph Lippe thus held the ruling power and most of the stock, and could virtually control the destinies of the college.

"After the close of the session he said that the chair of pathology and diagnostics was unnecessary, that it was contrary to pure homeopathy and that the homeopathic physician did not need pathology but only the power to prescribe according to the methods of Hahnemann, i.e., from the totality of the symptoms.

"But when it came to removing the chair of pathology and therefore Dr. Raue, Dr. Hering's good friend, Hering said: 'No, I will leave the college if Dr. Lippe is to have his own autocratic way in this matter.'"

In 1870 Dr. Bradford began his practice in Skowhegan, Maine and after 3 years went abroad to Europe to study homeopathy at various hospitals. Upon his return to America Bradford resumed his practice in Skowhegan. In 1877 he moved to Philadelphia and established practice again.

Dr. Bradford was considered a capable and conscientious homeopathic practitioner. He was steadfast in his adherence to Hahnemannian principles and strongly critical of other medicinal approaches. In 1901, writing in defense of homeopathy, he stated that,

"In this age of fantastic pharmaceutical compounds, let us not forget that the cure is made easier and more complete by the selection of the simillimum according to the directions laid down by Hahnemann, than by floundering about with empirical doses of chemical extracts given according to eclectic fancy and not by the certain law our school possesses, the Law Similia."

From 1895 until 1900 Bradford was a lecturer on the history of medicine at the Hahnemann Medical College of Philadelphia. He became curator of the college library in 1894. Bradford's Scrapbook is a 35-volume collection of essays, letters, and photos that he compiled while acting as library curator.

Though he practiced as a homeopath for more than 30 years, with a special interest in pediatrics, Bradford is best known for his literary efforts. Some of his publications include:

Bradford also wrote many of the articles in King's History of Homoeopathy.

Bradford's class notes of Lippe's lectures were published as Lippe's Lectures on Materia Medica.

In addition, Bradford inspired his student, Richard Haehl, to write a two volume overview of the Life and Works of Hahnemann. Bradford's own collection of homeopathic literature was considered to be the most comprehensive in the world.

In the early part of 1896, Dr. Bradford took steps to ascertain the burial place of Samuel Hahnemann. In this task, he frequently encountered contradictory and vague statements in the homeopathic literature of Germany, France and England regarding the location of the grave. Bradford's colleague at the Hahnemann College, Professor Platt, lecturer of Chemistry, intended to visit Europe with his wife in the early part of 1896 and they wanted to see Paris.

Bradford asked him to search for Hahnemann's grave. Platt's discovery of the grave and subsequent report to the Hahnemann College in Philadelphia led to the ultimate restoration of Dr. Hahnemann's burial site.

Bradford did not master the German language and could never, therefore, rely upon the original sources for the compilation of his work. Moreover, the German Archives were inaccessible to him.

He made several attempts to obtain information from German Government authorities, but did not succeed, probably because he made his requests in English. This discouraged him so much that he never again endeavored to supplement his work in this way. He was thus dependent for his research mainly on American and English literature.

Bradford's efforts at documenting the history of homeopathy were tireless and are unsurpassed to this day. His love for homeopathy is deeply felt by anyone who has read his writings.

As much as he accomplished during his lifetime, the following writing by him provides a glimpse of the work he felt still needed to be done:

But we all pass off with a task undone,
Sudden and silent, and one by one.
But the tasks we leave unfinished here
We will finish up in another sphere.