Friday, September 15, 2006

Early minute books: medical education in the 1920s and 1930s

In an attempt to track down some information on early research grants for a patron, I happened to have a chance to go through two archival collections of early school history: University of Oregon Medical School Faculty Minutes (Accession 1999-003) and University of Oregon Medical School Executive Committee Minutes (Accession 1999-005). The latter covers the period 1917-1919, and the former has materials dating from 1903-1969. I did find some information on grants and other research funding, along with a wealth of other fascinating tidbits.

For example, the minutes of the Faculty for Feb. 16, 1925, record that "Dr. Dillehunt presented evidence showing that a first year student ... had been advertising as a Chinese herb doctor, and explained that he had examined the student and suspended him until action by the faculty should be taken." The next meeting of the Faculty was not held until June 9, 1925, at which time Dillehunt reported that the student "had been recommended for reinstatement .... [The student] subsequently had been suspected of further practice in herb healing but had been dropped from the Medical School for poor scholarship before further action could be taken."

Chinese herbal medicine as a sideline might have appeared objectionable to the Faculty, but how much more objectionable was the conduct of other students, including two different students both named in the minutes of Nov. 24, 1925, and both expelled because they had been incarcerated on charges of larceny in two separate events. Clearly, the cost of medical education drove some students to extremes.

The price of education was dealt another small blow in December of 1935, when the minutes record that "The Dean ... approved the recommendation submitted by Miss Hallam, Librarian, providing for a system of fines for students for the non-return of reserve books .... Assessment of 25 cents for the first morning hour and five cents for each additional hour or fraction thereof for over-due material would be made." It's interesting to note how many years elapsed before these fines were raised to any significant degree.

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