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Minneapolis College of Physicians and Surgeons

Minneapolis, Minnesota


Hamline ad_edited.jpg


The 1908 Hamline yearbook, The Liner, is available through  HathiTrust has the early catalogues for Hamline University.  Dr. J. T. Moore highlights the history of Minneapolis College of Physicians and Surgeons as part of Unification of Medical Teaching in the State of Minnesota.  The St. Paul Daily Globe chronicles the early history of the school.  The ad is from the Northwestern Lancet.


Catherine "Doc Kate" Burnes (seated) was a physician in Hopkins , MN for thirty years until she retired in 1917. She drove her own horse and buggy to made her daily rounds.  Her sister Diana (standing), was on the board of  Northwestern Hospital for 35 years.  Image courtesy of Hopkins Historical Society.


Minneapolis College of Physicians and Surgeons, the first chartered medical college in Minnesota, was founded in 1883 to “instruct students in medicine and surgery, and to prepare them for final examinations therein.”  The six-month term began on October 6, with 25-30 students enrolled, taught by a faculty of eight.  In 1886 M.C.P.&S. saw its standards—three six- month terms—required by the Minnesota legislature, thus ending competition from diploma mills.  Before 1900, graduation requirements had been raised to four years of eight months, with an additional requirement that all credit must be earned at the medical school. 


In 1886 the Globe reported that M.C.P.&S. had “turned out” four doctors—including Catherine A. Burnes—the first female medical graduate in Minnesota. 

Also in 1894 the Globe reported that a Student Association at the school had given a Thanksgiving musicale and entertainment “which proved very enjoyable.  Dancing followed.”  M.C.P.&S. students also had chapters of two medical fraternities.  Phi Rho Sigma sponsored both an annual ball and an annual banquet.  Kappa Delta Phi sponsored a banquet and smoker.


In 1895 M.C.P.&S. merged with Hamline University, becoming its Department of Medicine. The merger Provided M.C.P.&S. with the liberal arts component and high entrance requirements to place them in the forefront of medical schools.  In 1896 enrollment reached 100, with 13 graduates.  The 1901 catalogue shows an enrollment of 143 with 27 graduates.  In both 1905 and 1906 M.C.P.&S. graduates scored higher on the state examinations than those from any other medical school in Minnesota. 


But advances in medicine left M.C.P.&S. unable to "sustain the expenses of apparatus, laboratories, and supplies."  Therefore in 1908 the school “amalgamated” with the University of Minnesota to gain access to more resources.

Bricks and Mortar

The original home for Minneapolis College of Physicians and Surgeons was rooms over The Citizens’ Bank at 503 Washington Avenue, South.  In 1893 the college moved to the former Rand Mansion at the corner of Seventh Street and Sixth Avenue.  The Globe notes the palatial rooms were extended to create “large and attractive lecture and assembly rooms, classrooms, laboratories and other apartments.” 


By 1900 the school was ready to move into its new building at the corner of Seventh Avenue and Fifth Street close to the city hospital.   The new building, of which only one wing was completed at the time, featured an Amphitheatre that seated 225.  It had a dissecting room, laboratories, and twenty other classrooms, in addition to a ladies’ parlor and reading rooms for students.  The Good Samaritan Dispensary, pioneering for the time, occupied the ground floor.  


Catalogues note that faculty at the college had visiting physician privileges in no fewer than nine hospitals in Minneapolis and St. Paul, so students had multiple opportunities for clinical work.

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The Seventh Avenue medical building.  Image from the 1908 Liner.  (


            Team name: Newspapers invariably referred to teams as “Medics.”


After becoming the medical department of Hamline University, M.C.P.&S. began to organize sports teams.  Early on, the emphasis was on baseball, with games against “the Methodist team,” recorded in 1897, and against Waseca and Albert Lee High Schools  in 1900.  Teams of 1901 and 1902 were much more active with games against Macalester College, Hamline, St. Thomas University, and the University Law School—in addition to games against area high schools.


The Medics began football in 1902 with a game against Minneapolis South High School.  In football the Medics played against Carleton College, St. Thomas, Macalester, Hamline, the University Farm School, and Pillsbury Academy—in addition to the high schools.

Note: Images are used in accordance with their “terms of use” as I understand those terms.  Recopying or republishing these images may be restricted or forbidden.

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