Friday, July 31, 2009

Resources on Willamette University Medical Department

Those well-versed in the history of OHSU know that the medical school, known then as University of Oregon Medical School, merged with the Willamette University Medical Department in 1913. The merger would have seemed unlikely to those faculty who were around to witness the original break in 1887, when several WUMD faculty resigned in order to establish the rival school. This complicated and lively history is reflected in a handful of primary resources held in the OHSU Historical Collections & Archives. Happily, this scanty record can now be fleshed out to some degree with materials held in the Willamette University Archives and Special Collections.

OHSU has a smattering of catalogs and portions of catalogs from WUMD, and the published introductory address from 1867. Most significantly, OHSU holds record books covering the period 1878-1899, with articles of incorporation, authorization to receive stock subscriptions, minutes of the stockholders, Board of Directors and faculty meeting minutes, enrollment records, alumni mailing lists, and newsclippings (Accession 1999-001). As we mentioned a few weeks ago, we also just received a WUMD student matriculation register covering the period 1880-1912.

WU holds additional catalogs, issued for the years 1869-70, 1872-73, 1874-75, 1879-80, and 1888-89. More wonderfully, the WU archivists just uncovered a collection of letters pertaining to WUMD written between (roughly) 1872-1893. While this collection has not yet been accessioned and processed, a sketch of the contents is below:
Mostly reports and letters to the Willamette Board of Trustees in Salem from Deans H Carpenter, O P S Plummer, E P Fraser, R Kelly
Not yet accessioned, some 70- 80 letters
Financial matters, list of graduates [in some cases with final scores], requests for diplomas, notification of resignations and new chairs, some resignation letters, annual reports, reports of faculty meetings
Auditing committee report 1883
Browne letter of resignation
The Chair of Obstetrics situation
Commencement Program 1891
Transcript of June 15 1888 faculty meeting minutes sent to board – re: hospital privileges restoration
Transcript of May 25 1891 faculty meeting minutes sent to board – tribute to E P Fraser upon his resignation
S Josephi resignation letter as chair of Descriptive and Surgical Anatomy March 7, 1874
Annual Report 1874 from Carpenter to Board [including budget]
Annual Report July 21 1875 from Carpenter to Board [including budget]
Willamette University Department of Medicine Annual Announcement 1874-75
Annual Report June 1889 Plummer to Board [including budget]
Proceedings of Medical Faculty September 25 1880 to March 15 1881 Fraser report to Board
Fantastic! Many of these names undoubtedly look familiar to regular readers, and I for one am dying to see the dean's take on the "Chair of Obstetrics Situation", and how politic (or not) Simeon Josephi was in his letter of resignation in 1874.

When this collection is fully described, the finding aid will be available in the Northwest Digital Archives. Watch that space for more details!

[Shown here: Willamette University Assembly Room, 1886, from the OHSU Historical Image Collection]

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