Skip to main content

Northwestern University (Evanston, Ill.). Medical School

 Organization

The Northwestern University Medical School began as the medical department of Lind University (later Lake Forest University) in 1859, located at Randolph and Market Streets in Chicago. In 1864, the medical department became an independent school, the Chicago Medical College, housed in a building at 22nd and State Streets. The founder of the College, Nathan Smith Davis, was an innovator in medical education who wanted to establish a three-year program that went beyond the traditional lecture-and-apprenticeship program. In 1870, the medical school affiliated with Northwestern, becoming the first professional school to be added to the liberal arts college in fulfillment of the founders' goal of creating a university. The school moved to a building at 26th Street and Prairie Avenue, where it remained until 1893. The Chicago Medical College became the Northwestern University Medical School in 1891. The Medical School moved again in 1893, to a Northwestern University plot of land on the twenty-four hundred block of South Dearborn, where it remained until Northwestern opened its Near North Side Chicago Campus in 1926.

Chicago Medical College founder Nathan Smith Davis served as the school's first dean from 1870, after its union with Northwestern, until 1898. Davis was followed by Franklin Seward Johnson (1898-1901). The third dean was Davis' son, Nathan Smith Davis, Jr. (1901-1907). The younger Davis' tenure as Dean was followed by those of Arthur Robin Edwards (1907-1916), Arthur Isaac Kendall (1916-1924), and Irving Samuel Cutler (1925-1941).

The medical school went through a number of changes in admission and graduation requirements during the first two decades of the twentieth century. In 1908 requirements for admission were raised to include one year of college, rather than just a high school diploma. In 1911, applicants were required to have completed two years of college. The American Medical Association itself did not require this level of education until 1918. Nathan Smith Davis, Jr., who favored more stringent requirements, clashed with his more traditional faculty over this issue and resigned his deanship in 1907.

In 1915, the medical school became one of six schools nationwide to require a fifth-year internship to earn the M.D. degree. These changes caused a drop in enrollment over the next few years, from 470 students in the 1909-1910 academic year to a low of 181 students in 1913-1914. Registration was up again to 413 students in 1919-1920 and, in the long run, the changes served to enhance the medical school's reputation.

For more information on the history of the Northwestern University Medical School, see Leslie B. Arey, Northwestern University Medical School, 1859-1979 (Evanston and Chicago: Northwestern University Medical School, 1979).

Found in 5 Collections and/or Records:

Records of the Dean of the Medical School, J. Roscoe Miller

 Collection
Identifier: 18/7/1
Abstract The records in this series span the years 1941 to 1949 and document J. Roscoe Miller's administration of the Northwestern University Medical School before and during the Second World War. Within the collection of correspondence, there is contact with students, staff, other Medical Schools, doctors, Trustees, University Administrators, Hospitals, municipal officials, and various organizations. The records illuminate Miller's tenure as Assistant Dean and as Dean.
Dates: 1941-1949

Records of the Dean of the Medical School, James E. Eckenhoff (1968-1985)

 Collection
Identifier: 18/7/2
Abstract The Records of the Medical School under Dean James E. Eckenhoff fill sixteen archival boxes, spanning the years 1968 to 1985. The records reflect the state of the Medical School under Eckenhoff with a strong emphasis on educational improvement, and consist of correspondence, transcripts, reports, publications, and minutes. The collection is divided into seven subseries: Allied Health, assemblies and lectures, councils and committees, faculty and research, graduate medical education, hospitals...
Dates: 1968-1985

Records of the Medical School Dean, Arthur R. Edwards

 Collection
Identifier: 18/7/4
Abstract The Records of the Medical School Dean, Arthur R. Edwards, consist of one box, spanning the years 1905 to 1912. The bulk of the records consists of correspondence to and from Dean Edwards. Also included are documents relating to faculty appointments and correspondence from the Junior Dean, W.S. Hall, a physiologist who was the first professor to hold the Nathan Smith Davis Professorship. The records are divided into two subseries, Correspondence and Faculty.
Dates: 1905-1912

Records of the Medical School Dean, Richard H. Young 1949-1970

 Collection
Identifier: 18/7/3
Abstract The Records of the Medical School Dean, Richard H. Young, fill 18 record cartons (18 cubic feet), spanning the years of his tenure as dean, 1949 to 1970. These records primarily consist of correspondence and documents relating to the administration of the medical school and affiliated hospitals. The records are divided into 12 subseries: Associations, Buildings and Grounds, Clinic, Dean's Office, Departments, Faculty, Fraternities, Hospitals, Library (Medical School), Medical School,...
Dates: 1949-1970

Northwestern Medical School, Records of the Dean

 Collection
Identifier: 18/7/5
Abstract These records of the deans of the Northwestern University Medical School date from 1956 through 1994. Including both incoming and outgoing correspondence, reports, and other forms of documentation, they are divided into five subseries: general files, committee files, departmental files, files relating to hospitals affiliated with the Medical School, and files pertaining to the Northwestern Medical Faculty Foundation.
Dates: 1956 - 1994; Other: Majority of material found within 1970 - 1989