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College of Medicine Records

A description of its records at the Syracuse University Archives


Creator: Syracuse University. -- College of Medicine.
Title: College of Medicine Records
Dates: 1872-2005
Size: 14 boxes, 5 loose volumes and 1 wrapped package (9.25 linear feet)
Abstract: The College of Medicine Records contain materials related to its history and administration.
Language: English
Repository: University Archives,
Special Collections Research Center
Syracuse University Libraries
222 Waverly Ave., Suite 600
Syracuse, NY 13244-2010

Historical Note

The College of Medicine had its roots in the Geneva College Medical School, which was founded in 1834 as part of Geneva College. In 1871, trustees of the college, by then called Hobart College, voted to disband the medical school, arguing that Geneva did not have adequate facilities in the area to support it. Hobart College sold its medical library and anatomical specimens to John Towler, the last dean of the Medical School, who donated the materials to Syracuse University with the condition that it immediately establish a medical school. The trustees chose the City of Syracuse because it was a much larger city with two hospitals and a newly-established university.

Photograph of Students Performing an X-Ray

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Syracuse University was established on January 2, 1872 with Frederick Hyde as its first dean. Classes began in October 1872 in rented rooms in the Clinton Block. In 1875 the medical faculty purchased a former carriage factory and remodeled it into a facility with laboratories, lecture halls, an amphitheater and a library and museum. A small adjacent building held the chemistry lab. In 1889, the property and buildings of the College of Physicians and Surgeons were deeded to Syracuse University, creating the new "Syracuse University College of Medicine." The deteriorating carriage factory building was demolished in 1896, and a new College of Medicine building, Peck Hall, was built in its place.

During the time of the founding of the Syracuse University College of Medicine, there was an effort to professionalize the field of medicine. The College was among one of the first to institute the “German Model,” a system in which students completed two years of extensive laboratory instruction followed by clinical experience. Having studied medicine in Germany, Professor Henry Leopold Elsner led the campaign to use this model.

In 1910, the Carnegie Foundation published the Flexner Report, the result of an extensive study of medical education in the United States. The report argued that physicians were poorly trained in the dozens of for-profit medical schools typical of the United States. Having begun improvements decades before the Flexner Report's publication, the Syracuse University College of Medicine was one of the few medical schools to earn its praise. The report stated that it was one of the best medical colleges in the country in terms of the “quality of the student body, to the number of full-time teachers and assistants, and to the adequacy of laboratories, museum, and library...."

Syracuse University College of Medicine graduate Herman Gates Weiskotten became dean of the College in 1922. He continued to closely follow the guidelines of the Flexner Report and conducted a similar study of American medical schools of behalf of the American Medical Association in the 1930s. In 1936, President Franklin D. Roosevelt attended the laying of the cornerstone for what is now Weiskotten Hall, a new building at 766 Irving Avenue. The building was constructed using a loan from the Works Progress Administration.

Photograph of President Roosevelt and Chancellor Graham

During the last decade in which the College was a part of Syracuse University, it continued to expand and modernize. The rotating clinics within the Syracuse Free Dispensary were staffed by faculty and students of the College of Medicine. In 1947, the College received a $24,900 grant to improve facilities for the study of oncology. Two years later, the College received a grant for the study of rheumatic fever. Upon the establishment of the State University of New York system in 1948, Governor Thomas E. Dewey called for the creation of two medical centers, with an Upstate facility located in Syracuse. In 1950, Syracuse University transferred the College of Medicine and its buildings and equipment to the new SUNY Upstate Medical Center in order to consolidate the Syracuse area medical schools under the State University of New York system.

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Scope and Content Note

The College of Medicine Records contain materials related to the administration of the College of Medicine, including correspondence and financial information from the early years of the College. Also included are minutes of faculty meetings and reports of the instructional committee dating from 1924 to 1944 and correspondence regarding Syracuse University's nursing laboratory. In addition, the records contain blueprints of the nursing laboratory and specifications for the College of Medicine building funded by the Works Progress Administration. The only item that postdates the transfer of the College to Upstate Medical Center is the final report of the Cardiac Rehabilitation Project (1966).

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Access Restrictions

The collection is currently unprocessed and not available for research.

Faculty personnel files are restricted for 80 years from date of separation from the University.

Use Restrictions

Written permission must be obtained from the Syracuse University Archives and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

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Related Material

The Syracuse University Archives holds photograph and clipping files related its administration and faculty.

The Archives also holds the Geneva College Medical School Collection.

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Selected Search Terms


Clark, Gaylord Parson.
Didama, Henry D. (Henry Darwin), 1823-1905.
Heffron, John L.
Weiskotten, Herman Gates, 1884-
Geneva College (N.Y.). -- Medical College.
SUNY Upstate Medical University.
Syracuse University -- History.
Syracuse University.
Syracuse University. -- College of Medicine.


Medical colleges -- Administration.
Medical education -- New York (State)
Public health.
College teachers.
Higher education.

Types of material


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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

College of Medicine Records,
University Archives,
Special Collections Research Center
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

The Syracuse University College of Medicine Records were deposited in the Archives over several years, from the 1950s to the 1970s. The origin of most of the materials is unknown. Correspondence, term calendars and other materials dating from the early years of the College were received from the archives of the Sisters of St. Francis of Syracuse in 1977. Minutes and reports dating from 1924 to 1944 were also received in 1977 from an unknown source.

Processing Information

This collection has not been processed.

Finding Aid Information

Created by: Katie Swingly
Date: 2015
Revision history: 2016 - Reference materials added to collection and finding aid updated (AES); March 2022 - Restriction added (HVA)

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An inventory is not available for this collection. Please contact the Syracuse University Archives for more information.

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