The Daniel J. Preston Collection

Historical Archives

The Daniel J. Preston Collection at the Delaware Academy of Medicine

Overview of the Collection

Repository: Delaware Academy of Medicine, John H. Ammon Medical Education Center, 4765 Ogletown Stanton Road, Suite L-10, Newark, DE, 19713
Creator: Preston, Daniel J. (Daniel Jerome), 1909-78
Title: The Daniel J. Preston Collection
Dates: 1937-90
Quantity: 4 cubic feet
Abstract: A collection of books, paintings, and artifacts from the life and career of prominent surgeon Dr. Daniel J. Preston of Wilmington, Delaware (1909-78).
Identification: US DeWAM DC1
Language: The records are in English.

Biographical Note

Daniel J. Preston was born in 1909. After taking an undergraduate degree at Pennsylvania State College, he attended Temple University School of Medicine, where he trained in surgery under Dr. W. Wayne Babcock. He interned at Pennsylvania Hospital in the mid-1930s, and taught surgery at Temple for three years.

Dr. Preston moved to Wilmington in 1940, and served in the Army Medical Corps during World War II. After the war, he worked as a general surgeon until his retirement in 1974. During his career, he was chief of surgery at Wilmington General Hospital and Delaware Hospital from 1953 to 1970, and also later chief of surgery at St. Francis Hospital. In 1959, Dr. Preston and his wife, Amy, traveled to Uganda and spent three months working at the Freda Carr Hospital there. Among his other professional achievements was the introduction of a new hernia repair technique using stainless steel wire mesh.

Dr. Preston was a leading member of many local medical organizations, including terms as president of the Delaware Medical Society and the New Castle County Medical Society. He was also a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, a Fellow of the International College of Surgeons, and a member of the Southeast Surgical Congress and the Pan-Pacific Surgical Society.

He died on February 6, 1978. One of the Academy’s largest endowments is named in his honor.

Source: Bancroft, Charles M., “Daniel J. Preston, M.D.,” Delaware Medical Journal 50 (March 1978): 136.

Scope and Contents

The centerpiece of Dr. Preston’s archive collection is his African journal, which records the three months he spent in Uganda.

Dr. Preston’s book collection contains some volumes on surgery, as well as a few textbooks he used while at Temple and Pennsylvania Hospital. Also available for study are three paintings by Dr. Preston, his academic regalia, and some items from his office.


Arranged by type of material, and then by date of accession where available.


Restrictions on Access
This collection is open to the public.

Restrictions on Use
No publication or reproduction for anything other than personal use without the permission of the Delaware Academy of Medicine. Any use of these materials must be in accordance with the Delaware Academy of Medicine’s archival access policy.

Related Material

The Academy’s biographical collection (AC1) includes a folder for Dr. Preston (AC1-N246). This file includes a photocopy of Dr. Preston’s African journal, some newspaper clippings related to Dr. Preston, a program from his memorial service, and some of Dr. Preston’s correspondence, including some letters from people named in the journal.

Index Terms

This record series is indexed under the following controlled access subject terms.

Preston, Daniel J. (Daniel Jerome), 1909-1978

Babcock Surgical Society
Delaware Academy of Medicine
Delaware Medical Society
International College of Surgeons

Wilmington (Del.)

Medicine — Delaware — biography
Surgeons — Delaware — biography
Surgery — Delaware — biography


Administrative Information

Acquisition Information
Much of Dr. Preston’s collection was not donated by him directly, but came to the Academy from other sources, including Dr. John M. Levinson, Dr. Pierre L. LeRoy, Mrs. Albert Lux, and Ms. Lorraine Getz. The Academy would like to express its gratitude to these people for helping us build this collection.

Processing Information
Arranged and described by Christopher Shea, December 2005. Last update to finding aid by Christopher Shea, January 2007. Dates given in the detailed description below are the dates of creation/publication, not of acquisition or accession, except where noted otherwise.

The writing of this finding aid was made possible in part by a Delaware Heritage Commission Challenge Grant.

Archivist’s note: Many items here have unclear provenance between leaving Dr. Preston’s possession and entering the Academy’s holdings. In many cases, donors and dates of donation are unknown. Therefore, I have decided to accession the bulk of Dr. Preston’s collection in one set, as if it had just landed on my desk. In the few cases where they are known, the actual donors are noted in each item’s description.

Detailed Description of the Collection

Archival papers

Notebook from Dr. Preston’s trip to Africa, 1959 (one folder)

This the journal Dr. Preston kept on his 1959 trip to Africa. It is handwritten and includes sketches by Dr. Preston. He describes the people he met, the customs and cultures he observed, and the medical cases he worked on. The journal was donated by Ms. Lorraine Getz, with assistance from Dr. John M. Levinson.


Medicine ampule case, undated

A leatherette case containing twelve glass ampules of assorted medicines. The flap of the case is embossed DANIEL J. PRESTON, M.D. / WILMINGTON, DEL. Exact donation date and donor are uncertain, but this was accessioned in 1998 as part of a collection of similar medicine cases.


Painting: Man with Leather Vest, Daniel J. Preston, 1977 (22″ x 27″, oil on wallboard)

A self-portrait by Dr. Preston, made a year before his death. Attached notes indicate that Dr. Preston painted this during a class taught by local artist Henry Peacock, probably at the Delaware Art Museum.

Painting: Keeper of the Bees, Daniel J. Preston, 1958 (25″ x 25″, oil on canvas)

A forest scene painted by Dr. Preston. Donated to the Academy by Mrs. Albert Lux.

Academic regalia of Daniel J. Preston, undated

This is the ceremonial garb worn by Dr. Preston as a Fellow of the International College of Surgeons. It is made of maroon silk with accents of gold, purple, and brown velvet. The set includes his cap, gown, and hood, and a medallion bearing the seal of the International College of Surgeons. Donated to the Academy by Dr. Pierre LeRoy.

Painting: Inconish Beach, Cape Breton, Daniel J. Preston, undated (12″ x 16″, oil on canvas, unframed)

A landscape painted by Dr. Preston.

Babcock Surgical Society paperweight, 1937

This is a bronze paperweight, partly painted red, bearing the insignia of the Babcock Surgical Society (a lantern marked with a caduceus and crossed arrows). Around the rim is lettered BABCOCK SURGICAL SOCIETY 1907 1937. Donated to the Academy by Dr. Pierre L. LeRoy.

Name plate, undated

A metal name plate (“DANIEL J PRESTON M D”) taken from Dr. Preston’s desk. Donated to the Academy by Dr. Pierre L. LeRoy.


Control of Communicable Diseases in Man, John E. Gordon, ed., 1965
Piersol’s Normal Histology, George Arthur Piersol, 1920
Surgical Nursing, Robert K. Felter and Frances West and associates, 1946
Surgical Nursing, Eldridge L. Eliason, L. Kraeer Ferguson, and Evelyn M. Farrand, 1945
Surgical Nursing, Eldridge L. Eliason, L. Kraeer Ferguson, and Evelyn M. Farrand, 1940
Medical State Board Examinations, Harold Rypins, 1939
Practical Bacteriology, Blood Work and Animal Parasitology, E. R. Stitt, 1927
Fractures and Other Bone and Joint Injuries, R. Watson-Jones, 1941
Aids to Gynaecology, W. R. Winterton, 1939
Surgical Management of Vascular Diseases, Gerald H. Pratt, 1949
Some Account of the Pennsylvania Hospital, Francis R. Packard, 1938
Fifty Years a Country Doctor, William N. Macartney, 1938