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 2 Collections and/or Records:

Opal E. Hepler (1899-1993) Papers

 Collection
Identifier: 18/3/13/1
Abstract The Opal E. Hepler papers, arranged in four boxes, date between 1926 and 1967. They include small amounts of biographical material, materials relating to her graduate education, correspondence and teaching files. The bulk of the papers consist of drafts of and notes for various versions of her Manual of clinical laboratory methods. A few reprints of her articles are also included.
Dates: 1926-1967

Martin H. Seifert (1902-1985) Papers

 Collection
Identifier: 18/3/6/3
Abstract Seifert joined the faculty of the Northwestern University Medical School in 1942 as a Clinical Assistant in Medicine and became an Assistant Professor of Medicine there in 1954. He became Professor Emeritus in 1971. The Martin H. Seifert Papers consist of one box, spanning the years 1928-1993. The bulk of the records consist of lecture notes, scholarly articles and papers presented to the medical community. The records are divided into six subseries: Biographical Materials, Education,...
Dates: 1928-1993