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La Porte University / Indiana Medical College

Location: Lincoln Elementary School, SE corner of Clay St. and Harrison St., La Porte (La Porte County, Indiana) 46350

Installed 2018 Indiana Historical Bureau and the Healthcare Foundation of La Porte

ID#: 46.2018.1

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Side One:

La Porte University

La Porte University was established in the early 1840s to include law, literary, and medical departments. The medical department, later Indiana Medical College, began classes by 1842. Its distinguished faculty attracted students from across the U.S. Notable attendees included Dr. William W. Mayo, whose practice evolved into Mayo Clinic, and Dr. William H. Wishard.

Side Two:

Indiana Medical College

Before the university’s founding, Indiana offered few opportunities for professional medical training. The medical college trained skilled doctors in the Midwest, preparing them for the region’s medical needs in surgery, anatomy, theory, and obstetrics. Classes ceased circa 1850; it consolidated with Indiana Central Medical College (1849-1852) in Indianapolis, 1851.

Annotated Text

Side One:

La Porte University[1]

La Porte University was established in the early 1840s to include law, literary, and medical departments.[2] The medical department, later Indiana Medical College, began classes by 1842.[3] Its distinguished faculty attracted students from across the U.S.[4] Notable attendees included Dr. William W. Mayo, whose practice evolved into Mayo Clinic,[5] and Dr. William H. Wishard.[6]

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Side Two:

Indiana Medical College

Before the university’s founding, Indiana offered few opportunities for professional medical training.[7] The medical college trained skilled doctors here in the Midwest,[8] preparing them for the region’s medical needs in surgery, anatomy, theory, and obstetrics.[9] Classes ceased circa 1850;10] it consolidated with Indiana Central Medical College (1849-1852) in Indianapolis, 1851.[11]

 

[1] The spelling of the university varies greatly among source material over the years. Early laws of the Indiana General Assembly that reference the university use the spelling “Laporte.” The 1842 Catalogue and Circular of the Medical Department of Laporte University also uses this spelling, as do several early newspaper articles, including a September 28, 1842 Indianapolis Journal article. Secondary sources use either “LaPorte” or “La Porte.” IHB staff, working in conjunction with the applicant for this marker, elected to use the latter spelling in the text, “La Porte,” to be consistent with current use today. Many businesses and organizations in the county use this spelling, such as La Porte Hospital, La Porte High School, and La Porte County Government. Newspaper articles in the Goshen Democrat on March 10, 1842, and the Prairie Farmer in January 1845 and October 1, 1845 also use the two-word spelling of “La Porte,” as does Richard Boone in his A History of Education in Indiana (New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1892), 70-71.

[2] “An Act to Incorporate the Trustees of the Western University, approved January 21, 1837,” Indiana Laws of a Local Nature 1837, 3-5, submitted by applicant; “An Act to Incorporate the Trustees of the Laporte University, approved February 17, 1838,” Indiana Laws of a Local Nature 1838, 228, submitted by applicant; Richard Boone, A History of Education in Indiana (New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1892), 70-71; E. D. Daniels, A Twentieth Century History and Biographical Record of La Porte County (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1904).

On January 21, 1837, the Indiana General Assembly approved an act to incorporate the trustees of the Western University. According to the act, the university was intended to provide for degrees in the liberal arts and sciences and to “promote literature, to provide the means for conducting an English scientific department in the institution; and further . . . for a department preparatory to the college classes, so long as each department to be found necessary.” The following year, on February 17, 1838, the General Assembly approved an act to incorporate the trustees of the Laporte University, granting them all rights and privileges granted under the 1837 act for the Western University and with the same conditions as that act. The 1842 laws for the State of Indiana also included an act approved January 20, 1842 to incorporate the trustees of the Laporte University.

Secondary sources, including county histories for La Porte, Richard G. Boone’s A History of Education in Indiana, and Dr. H.H. Martin’s “Early American Medical Schools,” all report that La Porte University obtained a charter from the state legislature in 1840-1841 and that this charter provided for an institution with literary, law, and medical departments. According to county histories, Judge William P. Andrew was instrumental in preparing the charter and organized the law school, which reportedly began classes December 1841. The medical department began in 1842 and the literary department reportedly began a little later, having first been known as the Lancasterian Academy before being merged into the university under the direction of Rev. F. P. Cummins.

IHB staff could not locate many primary sources regarding the law or literary departments of the school, with the majority of attention focused on the medical department. According to Boone, neither the law nor literary departments lasted very long. In Judge Andrews’ obituary in the Indianapolis News on May 18, 1906, the newspaper confirms that he taught the first law classes at La Porte University and that he practiced religion, law, and medicine in the city. A January 1845 Prairie Farmer article written by Dr. M L. Knapp of the university reports on the medical department of the school and provides details about the La Porte region. According to Knapp, La Porte:

Bids fair, too, to become a literary place. The people are now, I understand in La Porte, a very reading community, and the academic department of the University is now organizing, under an endowment of a county fund of some five thousand dollars, which will be augmented by a like amount from individual munificence. The president and professors will be elected before the 1st of January, and every effort made to organize a College of the Arts and Sciences at La Porte.

In an 1854 “History of Illinois,” F. P. Cummins, A.M. recommended a mathematical series. Cummins is listed as Professor of Languages in La Porte University, Indiana and he writes that “Thomson’s Arithmetics [sic] are the very best that have been presented to the literary public.” Cummins’ professional listing lends support to the existence of other departments at La Porte University beyond the medical department. Further research should be undertaken regarding the law and literary departments of the school, but is beyond the scope of this project.

[3] “Medical Lectures,” Indianapolis Indiana Journal, September 28, 1842, n.p., accessed NewspaperArchive.com; T. A. Stewart, Art. VI─Catalogue and Circular of the Medical Department of Laporte University, First Session, 1842, Western Journal of Medicine and Surgery (1840-1855): December 1842, 460, accessed Google Books; “Mr. Niles Address,” February 20, 1846, accessed Indiana State Library, submitted by applicant; [Tompkins] Higday, “The Indiana Medical College, Laporte, from 1842 to 1850,” Transactions of the Indiana State Medical Society, 1874, accessed Nineteenth Century Collections Online, Gale Group; Burton D. Myers, “Two Affiliated Medical College,” in The History of Medical Education in Indiana (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1956): 18-28, submitted by applicant; Katherine Mandusic McDonell, Medicine in Antebellum Indiana: Conflict, Conservatism, and Change (Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society, 1984), 28, submitted by applicant.

On September 28, 1842, the Indianapolis Indiana Journal published an ad promoting the medical department of university. The ad, written by dean of the school, Dr. Daniel Meeker, reports that lectures will be postponed from November and will instead commence on the first Monday in December and continue sixteen weeks: “The College is a large and commodious building, entirely new. The Lecture Rooms and Museum are large, and will be fitted up in good style.”

In December 1842, the Western Journal of Medicine and Surgery published a piece on the medical department, noting 1842 as the first session of the school. According to the journal, the medical school was “designed to be the nucleus of a large and flourishing University.” The article states that many may be surprised to find such an institution in the Northwest, but that the area had made rapid progress in just a few years. It reports:

The charter was procured about the middle of last winter; operations were immediately commenced, and courses of lectures delivered to a medical class of fifteen pupils, and a law class of ten; and since that time, as we are informed, a commodious Medical Hall has been erected, which is doubtless now occupied.

Secondary sources such as Burton Myers’ The History of Medical Education in Indiana and Katherine Mandusic McDonell’s Medicine in Antebellum Indiana: Conflict, Conservatism, and Change, report that the school was organized in 1841 and that the first lectures began in early 1842, with a second session commencing in the winter of 1842. From then on, terms for the medical department regularly commenced in November each year.

IHB staff did not locate any primary sources about the spring 1842 session or any potential earlier sessions. However, both the 1845-1846 catalogue for the school and Professor John B. Niles’ closing address to the students in February 1846 report the closing of the “fifth annual session of the Indiana Medical College.” Niles states:

During the period of five years since the organization of this Institution, its success and progress have been highly gratifying to its friends and have exceeded their most sanguine anticipations. The classes have regularly increased from thirteen to sixty; a commodious edifice has been erected; it has steadily gained upon the confidence of the medical profession and public at large, and from its small beginnings five years ago, is now as firmly established as almost any medical school in the United States, out of the large Atlantic cities.

If 1845-1846 represented the fifth annual session, classes at the medical school likely started in late 1841 or early 1842. In his article about the school, Dr. Tompkins Higday, a professor there, lists the dates for the medical college as 1842-1850. According to Dr. Higday, the first term spanned just eight weeks and began in the early spring of 1842. Nine students reportedly graduated at the conclusion of the shortened term. The first regular course of medical lectures commenced later that year and spanned sixteen weeks.

By 1846, the name was changed from the Medical Department at Laporte [sic] University to the Indiana Medical College. Niles’ February 1846 address refers to the school under the new name, the Indiana Medical College. The 1845-1846 catalogue for the school uses the new name, but included “Medical Department of Laporte [sic] University” in parenthesis directly underneath. Future catalogues for the school omit the older name.

[4] “Medical Lectures at La Porte, IA,” Prairie Farmer, October 1, 1845, accessed Illinois Digital Newspaper Collections; Catalogue of the Trustees, Officers & Students of Indiana Medical College (Medical Department of Laporte University), Session 1845-46 (Chicago: R.C. Wilson & Co., 1846), Indiana State Library Manuscripts; Catalogue of the Trustees, Officers and Students of Indiana Medical College, Session 1846-7 (La Porte: John Millikan, 1847), Indiana State Library Manuscripts; Catalogue of the Trustees, Officers and Students of the Indiana Medical College, Session 1847-8 (La Porte: W. & J. Millikan Printers, 1848), Indiana State Library Manuscripts; Catalogue of the Trustees, Officers and Students of the Indiana Medical College, Session 1848-9 (La Porte: W. & J. Millikan Printers, 1849), Indiana State Library Manuscripts; John S. Bobbs, “Biographical Sketch of the Late Dr. Deming,” Transactions of the Indiana State Medical Society (1857), accessed Nineteenth Century Collections Online, Gale Group; [Tompkins] Higday, “The Indiana Medical College, La Porte, from 1842 to 1850,” Transactions of the Indiana State Medical Society (1874), accessed Nineteenth Century Collections Online, Gale Group.

On October 18, 1843, the Fort Wayne Indiana State Journal reported about the medical department of Laporte University, stating, “The Laporte [sic] Medical School shows a Faculty of the highest qualifications, as we are informed from those best qualified to judge, and as we personally know.” Catalogues of the trustees, officers, and students at the school during the years 1845-1849 list the following faculty for each of the four years: Elizur Deming, M.D., of Lafayette, Indiana, Professor of Theory and Practice of Medicine; John B. Niles, A.M., Professor of Chemistry; Daniel Meeker, M.D., Professor of General, Special, and Surgical Anatomy; Azariah B. Shipman, M.D., of Cortlandville, New York, Professor of the Principles and Practice of Surgery; Nicholas Hard, M.D., of Aurora, Illinois, Professor of Obstetrics, and Diseases of Women and Children. Other faculty listed during some of these terms include J. Adams Allen, M.D., of Kalamazoo, Michigan, Professor of Materia Medica, Therapeutics, and Medical Jurisprudence; Tompkins Higday, M.D., Professor of Physiology and General Pathology; and Moses L. Knapp, M.D., of Chicago, Illinois, Professor of Materia Medica; among others. The faculty listings show that while some professors, such as Niles, Meeker, and Hidgay, were established in La Porte, many of the doctors came from out of state to teach at the school.

According to Burton Myers’ The History of Medical Education in Indiana, “Individually and collectively, the faculty of Indiana Medical College of La Porte was superior, and some members of this faculty were distinguished. Working together, their accomplishment was remarkable.” Many of the faculty of the school were involved in various medical societies and would go on to teach in medical departments elsewhere throughout the country after the closing of the Indiana Medical College. Myers reports that Dr. Deming served as president of the Indiana State Medical Society from 1853-1854 and that Dr. Meeker served in the role from 1856-1857. Both men taught at the Indiana Central Medical College in Indianapolis beginning in the fall of 1850. In “An Introductory Lecture to a Course on Surgery in the Indiana Medical College, Session 1847-8,” Dr. Shipman is listed as a professor at the Indiana Medical College, as well as an Honorary Member of the Philadelphia Medical Society and Corresponding Secretary of the Northwestern Academy of the Natural and Medical Sciences.

Like the faculty, catalogues of the medical college in La Porte show that students came from all over to attend the school. For example, the 1845-1846 catalogue shows students from various cities in Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, New York and Missouri. Later years of the catalogue also include students from Virginia, Wisconsin, Ohio, North Carolina, Vermont, Rhode Island, and cities in what was then referred to as the Western Territory (W.T.).The geographical spread highlights the appeal and need for the school at the time. The Fort Wayne Indiana State Journal praised the school in its October 18, 1843 article and sent it their “most ardent wishes for its prosperity and usefulness.” The issue included resolutions adopted at a recent meeting of the college’s students, in which they wrote:

Resolved, That we congratulate the friends of Laporte [sic] University, and the Medical Profession generally throughout the West, that the highest hopes, and most sanguine expectations of the founders, have been more than realized; and that we view it as being established on a permanent and lasting basis, and will, at a day not far distant, assume a station in the front rank of her sister institutions.

Resolved, That we recommend to students of medicine generally, who wish to avail themselves of a profitable course of Lectures, than the advantages and facilities of the above named Institution, are adequate to the highest expectations.

According to Dr. Higday, in his article about the school, “Many of the graduates of the school have become prominent practitioners.”

[5] William Worrall Mayo to Alex Ramsey, letter, September 22, 1861, Minnesota Historical Society, submitted by applicant; “Where Surgeons Themselves Lie on the Operating Table,” Wilkes-Barre [Pennsylvania] Times Leader, August 14, 1905, 4, accessed Newspapers.com; “Dr. W. W. Mayo Dies in Rochester, Minn.,” [Minneapolis, Minnesota] Star Tribune, March 7, 1911, 10, accessed Newspapers.com; “Mayo Clinic,” Dakota City, [Nebraska] Dakota County Herald, March 19, 1914, 5, accessed Newspapers.com; “Death of Mrs. W. W. Mayo,” [Richmond, Virginia] Times Dispatch, July 16, 1915, 1, accessed Newspapers.com; Burton D. Myers, “Two Affiliated Medical College,” in The History of Medical Education in Indiana (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1956): 18-28, submitted by applicant; Clark W. Nelson, Mayo Roots: Profiling the Origins of Mayo Clinic (Mayo Foundation, 1990), submitted by applicant; “Mayo Clinic Timeline,” accessed Mayo Clinic History & Heritage, Mayo Clinic; “William Worrall Mayo,” accessed Find A Grave; “Mayo, William Worrall ‘W. W.,’” accessed Minnesota Legislative Reference Library: Legislators Past & Present; “William Worrall Mayo,” accessed U.S. National Park Service; “Mayo Clinic,” accessed MNopedia.

According to the Mayo Clinic’s website, William Worrall Mayo left Liverpool, England in 1846 and arrived in New York City, where he soon began work as a “chemist” at Bellevue Hospital. The website reports that Mayo traveled west and eventually arrived in Lafayette. By the spring of 1849, Mayo began studying under Dr. Elizur Deming, a physician in Lafayette and professor at the Indiana Medical College. Mayo reportedly enrolled at the Indiana Medical College in the fall of 1849 and received his degree on February 14, 1850.

IHB staff could not locate a copy of the 1849-1850 catalogue of the school to confirm his time there and he is not listed in any of the earlier catalogues for the college. However, in a September 1861 letter from Mayo to Governor Alex Ramsey of Minnesota, in which Mayo offered his services as a surgeon for the 3rd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment during the Civil War, he provided testimonials and stated “In addition, I may say that I am a graduate of the Indiana Medical College.” Clark Nelson’s “Mayo Roots: Profiling the Origins of Mayo Clinic,” and Burton D. Myers, The History of Medical Education in Indiana, as well as historical timelines on the Mayo Clinic’s website, support that Mayo attended and graduated from the Indiana Medical College, though they admit that the dates he attended are uncertain.

Mayo became an examining surgeon for the Union Army in Minnesota in 1863 and settled in Rochester, the location of the headquarters of the Enrollment Board. He opened his own medical practice in the city after the war. According to the Mayo Clinic’s website, after a tornado struck Rochester, Minnesota in 1883, causing numerous deaths, Mother Alfred Moses and the Sisters of St. Francis worked with Dr. Mayo to care for the injured. The Sisters approached Dr. Mayo about opening a hospital in the city. He agreed, and worked with them to make the project a reality. St. Mary’s Hospital opened in 1889. It served as the beginning for the now celebrated Mayo Clinic. Mayo’s sons, William and Charles joined their father in his practice after earning their medical degrees. The two brothers would become famous physicians and were instrumental in making Mayo Clinic a world-class institution. By 1905, newspapers reported on the clinic, stating, “A small hospital established at that time has grown to great proportions as a result of the skill of Dr. W. J. Mayo and Dr. C.H. Mayo, sons of the pioneer physician [Dr. William Worrall Mayo]. It is one of the best equipped in the world and cost in the neighborhood of $200,000.”

6] Catalogue of the Trustees, Officers and Students of the Indiana Medical College, Session 1848-1849 (La Porte, Indiana: W. & J. Millikan Printers, 1849), 8-9; Diploma, Gulielmus [William] Henricus Wishard, Indiana Medical College, February 22, 1849, submitted by applicant; “A Big List of Students,” Indianapolis Journal, September 30, 1896, 8, accessed Hoosier State Chronicles; “Dr. William H. Wishard,” Indianapolis Star, December 10, 1913, 8, accessed Newspapers.com; Burton D. Myers, “Two Affiliated Medical College,” in The History of Medical Education in Indiana (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1956): 18-28, submitted by applicant; “William Henry Wishard,” FindAGrave.com; “William Niles Wishard, Sr.,” FindAGrave.com.

The 1848-1849 catalogue for the Indiana Medical College lists William H. Wishard of Greenwood, Indiana as a student and graduate of the school that year. The catalogue states that the annual commencement was held on February 22, 1849 and Wishard was among those to be conferred with the degree Doctor of Medicine. The subject of his thesis is listed as Medical Life. Wishard’s diploma also notes the February 22, 1849 date.

Wishard became a pioneer medical doctor and Civil War surgeon and the family name continues to occupy a prominent place within the medical field in Indianapolis. His son, William Niles Wishard, Sr., followed in his father’s footsteps and also pursued a long career in medicine. William Niles Wishard helped lead and expand City Hospital in Indianapolis in the 1880s, updating hospital procedures and improving the building. City Hospital first opened in 1859 and served as a Civil War military hospital. The younger Wishard was instrumental in its growth in the late nineteenth century. In 1975, the hospital was renamed Wishard Memorial Hospital. Today, the hospital is Eskenazi Health.

[7] “Mr. Niles’ Address,” 1846, Indiana State Library, submitted by applicant; “Medical College Statistics,” [Raleigh, North Carolina] Weekly Standard, September 23, 1846, 1, accessed Newspapers.com; Burton D. Myers, The History of Medical Education in Indiana (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1956); Leigh E. Morris, “La Porte University and the Indiana Medical College: A Pioneering Accomplishment,” submitted by applicant.

Myers reported that the development of medical education in Indiana had its roots in the preceptorial system. Under this system, a physician served as a mentor to a student in training. This training could be strong or poor, depending on the quality and education of the preceptor or mentor. With the scarcity of medical schools in what was then the West (the term “Midwest” is used on the marker to describe the region as it is known today), students often learned through preceptorial system or had to attend colleges in the East.

Myers’ chart below shows that the medical department at La Porte University was among the earliest medical schools in Indiana. It served as a pioneering institution not only for those in the state, but for the Midwest as well. In his closing address for the medical college in 1846, Professor John Niles hit upon this point when he stated that the “the continuance of this school is imperatively required, and we regard the location as highly eligible.” Niles continued:

On the west of us, it is true there are, in the State of Illinois, and near its western borders, some three or four medical schools; but the nearest is at a distance of seventy miles. Go north and east and south, and within a circuit of near three hundred miles, no similar institution can be found. Our location is on the borders of Michigan, and equally accessible from that as from our own State, and to reach the nearest school on the west, the student must travel through and seventy miles beyond this point.

For a listing of other medical colleges in the country in the mid-1840s, see the Raleigh Weekly Standard, September 23, 1846 and Isaac Hays, The American Journal of the Medical Sciences (Philadelphia: Henry C. Lea, 1876), October 1876, 474.  

“Medical Education in Indiana,” chart, Burton D. Myers, The History of Medical Education in Indiana
(Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1956), 3, submitted by applicant.
 

Raleigh Weekly Standard, September 23, 1846, 1, accessed Newspapers.com

[8] T. A. Stewart, Art. VI─Catalogue and Circular of the Medical Department of Laporte University, First Session, 1842, Western Journal of Medicine and Surgery (1840-1855): December 1842, 460, accessed Google Books; A.B. Shipman, “Medical Practice and Diseases in the West,” Boston Medical and Surgical Journal vol. 32 (March 19, 1845): 135; “Mr. Niles’ Address,” 1846, Indiana State Library, submitted by applicant; M.L. Knapp, “Address Delivered to the Graduating Class of the Indiana Medical College, at the Public Commencement,” Buffalo Medical Journal vol. 3 (February 18, 1847): 60; A.B. Shipman, “Medical Matters at the West,” Boston medical and Surgical Journal vol. 34 (February 25, 1846):78.

Professors at the Indiana Medical College regularly stressed the need for medical schools in the West and particularly for the institution at La Porte (“Midwest” is the term used on the marker to describe this region as it is known today). In 1842, the Western Journal of Medicine and Surgery published the catalogue and circular of the medical department for that year. While the writer acknowledged that some may be surprised to find a medical school in La Porte at that time, he acknowledged the rapid progress and growth of the region from a vast wilderness just a decade earlier to a regional center in need of physicians and surgeons.

Professor A.B. Shipman of the Indiana Medical College frequently wrote about the need for physicians in the West throughout the mid-1840s, criticizing those who believed students could only receive a good education in the East. In articles submitted to the Boston Medical and Surgical Journal, he reported: “Yet the West, with its fertile prairies and thriving towns, is destined, at no distant day, to furnish a fine field for the well-educated physician.” Shipman believed that physicians would benefit from being educated in the states where they were needed and where they hoped to work:

Physicians must be educated in the West to supply the adequate demands of the country. And why can they not learn medicine and surgery, anatomy, and obstetrics, and chemistry, as well there as at the East? . . . Theory and practice, by a man skilled in Western diseases, is more useful to the practitioner there than in many other places. Then, so far from deploring the multiplication of medical schools, as some writers and journalists have done, it is to be hailed as a real blessing to the country.

In a February 25, 1846 article, Shipman reemphasized his points, writing:

How are these States [in the West] to be supplied with intelligent and skillful physicians and surgeons? The Eastern schools do not as yet furnish the requisite number; for every year, during the prevalence of fevers, everything bearing the cognomen of doctor is fully employed. This state of things has given encouragement to quackery.

Shipman noted that many of the diseases of the West were related to malaria and that students needed to be trained here to best treat them. He was not alone in his beliefs. Professor Niles also commented on the need for training in the West, noting “It is a mistaken idea that learning must come from far, and that to be the graduate of some distant and famous school, must imply some superior qualifications.” He continued:

It is an undisputed fact that the character of diseases varies much with climate, and that the diseases prevalent among us are frequently of a different type, and require different treatment, from those common at the east, and it seems peculiarly important that a school of medicine should be sustained among us.

[9] Catalogue of the Trustees, Officers & Students of Indiana Medical College (Medical Department of Laporte University), Session 1845-46 (Chicago: R.C. Wilson & Co., 1846), Indiana State Library Manuscripts; Catalogue of the Trustees, Officers and Students of Indiana Medical College, Session 1846-7 (La Porte: John Millikan, 1847), Indiana State Library Manuscripts; Catalogue of the Trustees, Officers and Students of the Indiana Medical College, Session 1847-8 (La Porte: W. & J. Millikan Printers, 1848), Indiana State Library Manuscripts; Catalogue of the Trustees, Officers and Students of the Indiana Medical College, Session 1848-9 (La Porte: W. & J. Millikan Printers, 1849), Indiana State Library Manuscripts.

Catalogues for the Indiana Medical College from 1845-1849 list professors for the following branches of medical science: the theory and practice of medicine, chemistry, materia medica, anatomy and physiology, surgery, obstetrics and diseases of women and children, and anatomy.

In addition to these courses, the catalogues shed light on the caliber of medical work conducted at the college. For example, according to the 1845-1846 catalogue, surgical operations performed at the school included amputations, removal of tumors, excision of tonsillary glands, and operations on the eye, among others. Students received firsthand experience on how to treat patients and perform a variety of procedures. Furthermore, each professor was furnished with a variety of apparatuses to best teach the medical practices of the day.

Requirements for graduation included being at least twenty-one years old and of good moral character. Students must have “studied medicine under a competent instructor for the term of three years, and have attended two full courses of lectures ─ the last in this institution.” Other requirements included submitting an original dissertation, paying necessary fees, and passing examinations.

[10] Colin G. Strong to John M. Evans, letter, February 12, 1850, John M. Evans Papers, 1825-1883, Wisconsin Historical Society Archives; Tompkins Higday to John M. Evans, letter, August 1, 1850, John M. Evans Papers, 1825-1883, Wisconsin Historical Society Archives; [Tompkins] Higday, “The Indiana Medical College, La Porte, from 1842 to 1850,” Transactions of the Indiana State Medical Society, 1874, accessed Nineteenth Century Collections Online, Gale Group; “A Big List of Students,” Indianapolis Journal, September 30, 1896, 8, accessed Hoosier State Chronicles.

In a letter from Colin G. Strong to John M. Evans dated February 12, 1850, Strong wrote:

The close of the session 1849-50 is now at hand and with it I think will terminate the existence of the Indiana Medical College at this place. Most of the faculty are going to Lafayette to give a spring course of twelve weeks and see what the good people there will do [towards] building a college . . . The faculty think that the prosperity of the institution would be increased by a removal to a more central part of the state, as the Michigan School at Ann Arbor will deprive them of the students from that state . . . They may not locate at Lafayette, but will probably there, or Indianapolis, or New Albany. . . Lectures will close on the 14th.

Strong is listed as a student at the medical college in the 1847-1848 catalogue and Evans is listed as a student in the 1845-1846 and 1846-1847 catalogues.

On August 1, 1850, Dr. Tompkins Higday, Professor of Physiology and General Pathology at the Indiana Medical College, wrote to Evans informing him that several faculty members of the Indiana Medical College had taken positions at other schools. According to him, Dr. Daniel Meeker was appointed and accepted a post as chair of Anatomy at the medical college in Indianapolis and Dr. E. Deming accepted the half chair of Institutes on General Pathology there as well. Dr. J. Allen, former Professor of Materia Medica, Therapeutics, and Medical Jurisprudence had taken a post at the medical college in Ann Arbor. Dr. Higday reported that with three faculty members gone from the La Porte school there will be no more lectures there for the present time. In addition to faculty moving away, he also cited difficulties in securing funding for the school to cover expenses and the growth of other medical schools in the Northwest as reasons for pausing terms at the La Porte school, stating, “So the Indiana Medical College rests.”

Dr. Higday also referenced the dates of the Indiana Medical College in his article, “The Indiana Medical College, La Porte, from 1842 to 1850.”

Further evidence supporting the end of classes at the Indiana Medical College in 1850 comes from a September 30, 1896 Indianapolis Journal article. The article provides details of Dr. William N. Wishard’s address at the opening exercises of the twenty-seventh session of the Medical College of Indiana (by then the medical department of the University of Indianapolis). Dr. Wishard reported on the Indiana Medical College at La Porte and notes that his father, Dr. W. H. Wishard, was member of the graduating class there in 1848-1849. The 1848-1849 catalogue for the school confirms these details. According to Dr. William N. Wishard, his father told him that there was one session held at La Porte after his graduation in 1849 (this was likely the 1849-1850 session that Dr. William Mayo attended). Wishard claimed that in  1850 the school reportedly moved to St. Charles, Illinois then to Rock Island, Island, and then to Keokuk, Iowa. Further research is needed to confirm these statements, as source material indicates that the school consolidated with the Indiana Central Medical College in 1851. See footnote 10 for more information.

[11] “Indiana Central Medical College,” Vevay Indiana Palladium, December 30, 1848, n.p., accessed NewspaperArchive.com; “Convention of Western Medical Schools,” Western Lancet vol. 9 (February 1, 1849):  133, accessed Google Books; “Indiana Central Medical College,” Aurora [Indiana] Western Commercial, February 10, 1849, n.p., accessed NewspaperArchive.com; “Indiana Central Medical College,” [Indianapolis] State Indiana Sentinel, August 23, 1849, 3, accessed Hoosier State Chronicles;  “Central Medical College,” New Albany Daily Ledger, March 6, 1850, accessed NewspaperArchive.com; “Medical College at Indianapolis,” [Indianapolis] State Indiana Sentinel, July 25, 1850, 2, accessed Newspapers.com; “Indiana Central Medical College, Session for 1850-51,” [Indianapolis] State Indiana Sentinel, October 3, 1850, 3, accessed Newspapers.com; “Indiana Asbury University,” New Albany Daily Ledger, May 9, 1851, n.p., accessed NewspaperArchive.com; “Indiana Asbury University,” Daguerreian Journal vol. 2 (July 1, 1851): 116; “Recent Fires,” Chicago Tribune, January 19, 1856, 1, accessed Newspapers.com; Burton D. Myers, “Two Affiliated Medical College,” in The History of Medical Education in Indiana (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1956): 18-28, submitted by applicant.

On December 30, 1848, the Vevay Palladium reported: “The Trustees of the Indiana Asbury University recently determined to attach a Medical Department to their flourishing Institution ─ To render it more convenient they located that department in Indianapolis.” The article states that lectures commenced in November of that year, but later newspaper articles and journals indicate that the first term actually began in November 1849. Dr. John S. Bobbs, Dean of the Faculty and Professor of Anatomy, gave the introductory lecture at the opening of the college. He and the trustees promoted Indianapolis’ central location and hoped to make the medical college equal to the best in the country. Read his remarks in “An Introductory Lecture at the Opening of the Indiana Central Medical College, November 1849,” (Indianapolis: Douglass & Elder, 1849), accessed Google Books.

On March 6, 1850, the New Albany Daily Ledger reported on the closing of the first session and noted forty-nine students in attendance. Dr. Meeker and Dr. Deming of the Indiana Medical College in La Porte accepted appointments to teach at the Indianapolis school for the 1850-1851 term (see footnote 9 for more information). On May 9, 1851, the New Albany Daily Ledger announced that the Indiana Medical College and Indiana Central Medical College had consolidated and “when acting in conjunction will form one of the best medical institutions in the country.” The consolidation of the two schools ended when Indiana Central Medical College suspended operation just one year later in 1852. According to Burton Myers, the July 1852 minutes of the board of trustees of Asbury University reported that financial problems led to the closing of the school until sufficient funds could be raised.

The La Porte Female Institute, originally built for the Indiana Medical College, burned down in January 1856. Following the closing of the Indiana Medical College and the Indiana Central Medical College, no other medical university was established in the state until 1869. See Thaddeus M. Stevens, M.D. “Report on Medical History of Indiana,” Transactions of the Indiana State Medical Society, 1874, accessed Nineteenth Century Collections Online, Gale Group, for more information about the history of early medical education in the state.

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