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Register of the Papers of


1787 - 1798

1 ft.

MSS 101


Monique Bourque

June 1993


Giambattista Scandella was born in the Venetian State, Italy, possibly in the city of Vicenza, by 1770.  The details of his birth and early life are uncertain and based upon deductions from secondary sources.

He studied medicine while attending the University of Padua, and graduated in 1786.  Scandella developed an interest in the scientific study of agriculture after matriculation.  He is credited with writing a long treatise on fertilizer published in several series of issues of the Venetian journal, Nuovo Giornale d'Italia, in 1790.

Scandella next moved to London where he was the Secretary to the Venetian Embassy.  It is while in London that he decided to travel to North America and embarked for Quebec.  He arrived in America ca. 1796.  He traveled extensively in Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania.  He made the acquaintance of George Washington and Benjamin Rush, and formed a friendship with Benjamin Henry Latrobe.  Scandella was elected to the American Philosophical Society in 1798.  In the autumn of 1798 he set out from Philadelphia to return to Europe.  Detained temporarily in New York by the loss of his luggage, he died there some days later of the yellow fever; it is not certain where he contracted it, as epidemics were currently raging in both Philadelphia and New York.


The collection was donated by the Cincinnati Historical Society in 1974.  It is in Italian, French, Latin, and English.  Partial summaries of some materials are available.


This collection provides the observations of a well educated and curious European on American life and manners, the political life of the young republic, and both observations and opinions on natural history, political and religious matters, suffrage, and slavery.

While the general subjects dealt with and the format are typical of the travel narratives of the period, the journals will be of particular interest for Scandella's discussions of the political climate in Philadelphia at the time of the outbreak of the yellow fever in 1798.  The commonplaces are of value primarily for the inclusion of medical case notes, which are rare for this period.


The collection has been arranged in three series: I. Journals; II. Commonplaces; III. Other Writings.  Each has been arranged chronologically wherever possible.

SERIES I.  Journals (1787 -1798)  .25 ft., 2 folders.

These are written primarily in Italian.

SERIES II.  Commonplaces (1787-1788 and n.d.)  5 folders.

These are in Latin, Italian, French, and English.  They include excerpts from historical accounts of the settlement of New France, quotations from discussions of European trade relations, and a list of North American plants.  2 folders appear to have been written before Scandella came to America and include medical case records (it is unclear if Scandella was the attending physician).

SERIES III.  Other Writings (1795)  1 folder.

This contains a poem written on the reverse of a warrant for the arrest of a debtor.  The connection of this document to the rest of the collection cannot be established.

The box list of the register of the papers of Giambattista Scandella is two pages long.