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School of Medicine Records

Call Number: UA010

Scope and Contents

The School of Medicine Records consist primarily of correspondence. Other materials include memos and files from the office of the Dean; faculty meeting and committee minutes; and photographs, lectures, and examination materials. The unprocessed accessions contain programs, bulletins and catalogs. A large portion of the collection contains files from the Tufts Comprehensive Community Action Program (TCCHAP). There are two folders containing the few photos of early faculty. The entire collection is arranged by subject.


  • Creation: 1882 -- 2017



This collection contains some restricted material. Restrictions related to specific material are listed in the detailed contents list. This collection may require review before it is available for use. Please contact DCA for further details.

Conditions Governing Use

Some material in this collection may be protected by copyright and other rights. Please see “Reproductions and Use” on the Digital Collections and Archives website for more information about reproductions and permission to publish. Copyright to all materials created by Tufts University employees in the course of their work is held by the Trustees of Tufts University.

Biographical / Historical

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.


61.6 Linear Feet (54 boxes)

2 Artifact(s)

2 Digital Object(s)

Language of Materials



This collection contains records of the Tufts University School of Medicine.


This collection is organized in five series: Subject files; Office of the Dean, Subject Files; Faculty meeting and committee minutes; Photographs, lectures and examination materials; and Unprocessed accessions.

Custodial History

Part of this material was collected by Russell Miller in preparation for writing "Light on the Hill," his history of Tufts University. These materials were arranged by subject, and no attempt was made to recreate original order. Material relating to administering the collection was removed to the documentation files of the collection in the archives.

The Office of the Dean, Subject Files were accessioned prior to the reopening of the archives in 1997. The majority of the material seems to originate from the office of the dean of the medical school, and were grouped into subject files in alphabetical order. In processing this series, items that were out of order were put back into their proper place in the alphabetical range.

Medical school publications were removed from this collection and placed in the appropriate publication collection.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Transferred by the School of Medicine, 2003-2017.

Processing Information

2017 accessions were processed by Leah Edelman in 2017. Materials were placed in archival boxes and folders; received order was maintained. An item-level record was created, and series-level description and the finding aid were updated at the time of processing. 

Processing status

This collection is partially processed.

Repository Details

Part of the Tufts Archival Research Center Repository

35 Professors Row
Tisch Library Building
Tufts University
Medford Massachusetts 02155 United States