Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to search results

School of Medicine




In 1893 several physicians, discontent with the training of physicians at that time, banded together to start the Tufts Medical School. These founding fathers had been dissatisfied with the members and actions of the Governing Body for the Boston College of Physicians & Surgeons and regarded that school's standards as being too low and the laboratory and clinical work to be insufficient. Consequently, the seven founding fathers started Tufts College Medical School as part of Tufts College so as to encourage an academic program of higher standards. Initially, the School of Medicine was located in a three story building at 188 Boylston St., where the Four Seasons Hotel currently stands. In 1949, the school moved to its current location on Harrison Avenue.

The Tufts University School of Medicine was voted into existence by the Trustees on April 22, 1893. It was formed by the secession of seven faculty from the College of Physicians and Surgeons in Boston, a school which was formed in 1880. These "original seven" faculty members successfully lobbied to establish a medical school under the auspices of Tufts College.

The "original seven" first faculty of the Medical School were William Chipman, Henry W. Dudley, Walter L. Hall, John W. Johnson, Albert Nott, Charles P. Thayer, and Frank Wheatley. All had been members of the College of Physicians and Surgeons, but had been dissatisfied with the operations of that institution since it opened in 1880.They believed that in order to raise the standards of the school and provide for the necessary laboratory and clinical work, the school should affiliate with a college or university. President Capen was sympathetic to the idea of Tufts expanding into the realm of medical education, leading the group to concentrate their efforts on affiliation with Tufts.

The new school, which was designated the Medical School of Tufts College, opened its doors in October 1893 with a student body of eighty students. The school was, from the very beginning, coeducational, and of the twenty-two students who graduated that first year, eight were women.

The Medical School was initially located on three floors of a building at 188 Boylston Street in Boston, now the site of the Four Seasons Hotel. The building, which had formerly served as the home of the College of Physicians and Surgeons, was owned by Tufts as an investment property, and was taken for use of the Medical School upon its formation. As enrollment increased rapidly in the first years of the school's operation, the school acquired additional facilities for use in the area. By 1897 the school's growth forced it to seek a new facility. A renovated Baptist church on Shawmut Avenue became the school's new home, but the establishment of the Dental School in 1899 meant that another move was necessary. This time a building was constructed to house both schools on Huntington Avenue, which served as the Medical School's home until 1949, when it moved to its current location on Harrison Avenue in downtown Boston.

By 1905, the Medical School was the largest such school in New England, with a faculty of 105 and 403 students. While enrollments continued to climb, growth of the school was hindered by the lack of any substantial endowment and the failure to obtain a hospital for exclusive use of the school's clinical training needs.

In the first decades of the Medical School's existence there was ongoing concern about admission requirements and the implications these held for the quality of medical education and graduates of the program. Initially, a high school degree from an approved school, or examination in high school subjects was required for admission. Many felt this to be too lax, but others were hesitant to require a full college degree for admission, believing that this would put an unnecessary financial and time burden on students. However, as the American Medical Association criteria for ranking medical schools continued to be revised, admissions standards were gradually increased to a bachelor's degree by the 1932-33 academic year.

In 1929 an alliance was formed between Boston Dispensary, the Floating Hospital for Infants and Children, and the medical and dental schools, constituting the basis for the formation of the New England Medical Center (NEMC) in 1930.This served as the impetus for the medical and dental schools to move from the Huntington Avenue location to downtown Boston. However, before this could take place it was necessary to raise funds to construct a new facility, a task which was made all the more challenging in that it was undertaken in the depression years of the 1930s.

During World War II, the Medical School went on a full-year, accelerated academic calendar to meet the increased wartime demand for medical personnel. Plans continued to go ahead for construction of a new facility downtown, and the move was accomplished in 1949.This move signified the realization of the school's long-term goal of providing close affiliation with a hospital facility for its students.

Expanding curricular programs and departments to keep apace with the growing medical field placed ongoing strains on the finances of the Medical School. With the majority of income being generated by tuition revenues, efforts were intensified starting in the 1950s to seek additional public and private grant funding for projects and to drastically increase the school's endowment. Faculty were successful in obtaining funding from sources such as the Ford Foundation, the National Public Health Service, and the National Cancer Institute. In 1975-76, Professor William B. Schwartz, chair of the Department of Medicine, became the first holder of the Vannevar Bush University Professorship, the first endowed professorship in the university's history.

For much of its history, the Medical School has drawn its student body largely from the New England states. Since the 1950s this has gradually changed, with slightly less than half of entering students in 1999 coming from the six New England states.

Found in 303 Collections and/or Records:

Center hospital of the Tufts School of Medicine on Harrison Avenue, 1962-07
Center hospital of the Tufts School of Med...

Center hospital of the Tufts School of Medicine on Harrison Avenue, 1962-07

 Item — Box Shared 41
Call Number: UA014.001.DO.03261
Chauncy Hall School, 1896
Chauncy Hall School, 1896

Chauncy Hall School

 Digital Image
Dates: 1896

Chauncy Hall School, 1896

 Item — Box Shared 105
Call Number: UA136.002.DO.01104
Scope and Contents

second medical school building

Dates: 1896
Construction of the Tufts-New England Medical Center, 1972-02
Construction of the Tufts-New England Medi...

Construction of the Tufts-New England Medical Center, 1972-02

 Item — Box Shared 41
Call Number: UA014.001.DO.03359
Construction on the facade of the Tufts School of Medicine and Dental Medicine, 1960
Construction on the facade of the Tufts Sc...

COVID-19 Communications and Guidance, 2020 -- 2021

Call Number: MS269.000568
Scope and Contents From the Series: This series represents a collection of websites regarding Tufts University's response to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Websites include official University communications, news items reporting on Tufts' response, student-published articles, and social media posts.The collection will grow as the pandemic continues, and the finding aid will be updated on a regular basis to reflect addtions. To see the current state of the web collection, follow the link in the Other Finding Aids...
Dates: 2020 -- 2021
Dean's Letter for Tufts Medicine, 2005-06
Dean's Letter for Tufts Medicine, 2005-06

Dean's Letter for Tufts Medicine

 Digital Image
Dates: 2005-06