Green Mount Cemetery Baltimore, Baltimore City, Maryland, USA
Dr. Jacob Hall Pleasants (September 12, 1873 - August 24, 1957) was a member of the Horace Walpole Society, elected in 1938.
He was an author and leader in medicine, history, charity and the arts. Talented and curious by nature, Dr. Pleasants was a leading figure in a dozen or more organizations. He had been a trustee of the Johns Hopkins University since 1920, of the Peabody Institute since 1922, serving as president tor twelve years, the Baltimore Muesum of Art since 1914, the Municipal Museum of Baltimore since 1931, and St. Timothy's School in Stevenson.
He had been a member of the Maryland Historical Society since 1898, and a vice president for 22 years. He edited the Maryland Archives from 1929 to 1943, and took a gluiding hand in the Bachelors Cotillon.
Dr. Pleasants's energies flowed in a stream of many turnings and branches. His was a habit of making vocations of every subject that interested him, and, to a great extent, brought about an early retirement from his profession of medicine and led him to the adopted mantle of antiquarian and educator.
He came of a family that spanned 200 years in three generations. His grandfather was born in Virginia in 1763, his father, Richard Hall Pleasants, died at the turn of the century aged 81, and Dr. Pleasants was born September 12, 1873, on a now-vanished estate near Towson. His mother was Elizabeth Moale Poultney, of Virginia.
It was doubtless the close ties with the deep past that sparked Dr. Pleasants with his insatiable curiosity for history and made him one of Maryland's most prominent, research scholars.
His industrious and interested work in behalf of the State largely was responsible for Maryland's complete and distinguished history of its early days, a more painstaking record than any of the other thirteen original colonies possesses. This was brought about through of the Archives, of which he was appointed editor in 1929.
Most of his family always had participated in the importing business of John P. Pleasants & Sons, which was, up to the Baltimore fire, held to be the oldest concern doing business in the city.
Dr. Pleasants, however, after receiving a degree from Johns Hopkins University in 1895, chose to enter the Medical School, graduating four years later. He hung out his own shingle, but after recovering from a slight attack of tuberculosis, abandoned private practice entirely.
From this time, Dr. Pleasants made a study of tuberculosis that, in 1912, led him to introduce a bill in the Legislature calling for the establishment of small hospitals throughout the State for care of patients suffering from the disease. Governor Ritchie later appointed him to membership on the Maryland Tuberculosis Sanatorium Commission.
In June 1921, while Mavor Broening was in office, Dr Pleasants resigned from the charities board, complaining that some of the members were intent upon appointing as supervisor of City Hospitals a man he did not feel was qualified. Two other members resigned with him.
Casting around for other interests, Dr. Pleasants took as an inspiration a circle of family portraits in his study and became absorbed with early Maryland painters and their work.
He was associated with the Frick Art Reference Library, of New York, as a consultant in this respect, and gathered more than 2,000 annotated photographs of the handiwork of early State artists.
It was his intention to publish a book on the subject, but before he could do so he wrote instead a book entitled "Maryland Silversmiths, 1715-1830". It was hailed as authoritative and voted one of the 50 best books of the year by the American Institute of Graphic Arts, its printing, binding and illustrations being cited particularly.
He also authored a book entitled "Four Late Eighteenth Century Anglo-American Landscape Painters" in 1943, and a mongraph on George W. West in 1949. He was a frequent contributor to medical, art, and history journals on early American painters.
For fifteen years he collected biographical information on Maryland artists and amassed a collection of portraits of Marylanders.
He did not give up his medicine entirely, and was on the faculty of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine as an instructor in medical diagnosis from 1900 to 1935.
He was a member of the American Medical Association and the Medical and Chirurgical Faculty of Maryland, of the American Antiquarian Society and of the Walpole Society, small group of scholars and wealthy patrons of art.
In 1902 he married Delia Tudor Wilmer, daughter of Skipwith Wilmer, and had two daughters, Delia Pleasants, and Mrs. Francis Jencks, of Baltimore. He died on August 24, 1957, at the Johns Hopkins Hospital after a short illness. He was buried at Greenmount Cemetery, Baltimore.
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