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Memphis Hospital Medical College

Memphis, Tennessee



The best source of information on Memphis Hospital Medical College is the Commercial Appeal newspapers.  The Memphis Medical Journal was associated with the college. The image of Dr. W. B. Rogers, Professor and Dean of the college  throughout its history (right), is from Tennesseans…: [Portraits].


Memphis Hospital Medical College was founded by Dr. W. E. Rogers and associates in the winter of 1877.  But the opening was delayed by a yellow fever epidemic.  Classes finally opened on October 5, 1880 for 10 professors and around 40 students.  Initially it was associated with Southwestern Baptist University, and it also had a College of Pharmacy.

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The initial program was two terms of five months each.  By 1895 the program had been increased to three terms of six months each, and in1901 to four years.


Memphis Hospital Medical School soon began to advertise itself as “the foremost medical college in the South,” attracting students from Texas and Indian Territory, as well as from Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, Alabama, and Tennessee.  Enrollment topped 100 by 1888, 200 by 1890, 500 by 1898, and 700 by 1901.  From a graduating class of 19 in 1881, that of 1903 reached 195.  Though M. H. M. C. discussed the admission of female students in 1895, the school remained male throughout.


The first student organization at M.H.M.C. was a chapter of the Y.M.C.A. in 1894.  Newspapers explained the necessity for the Y.M.C.A. in that many students lived in poverty with limited heat and opportunities for social interactions. The Y.M.C.A. room provided a warm, safe environment with some comforts of home.


Finally in 1909, M.H.M.C. began to develop extracurricular activities.  That year a glee club was organized among students.  By 1910 newspapers carried accounts of concerts, now described as “annual.” and dances.  Musical groups now included an orchestra and a quartette, in addition to the glee club.  Parties had now become part of the social scene.


M.H.M.C. was described in the Flexner report as one of Tennessee’s “low grade” medical schools.  The report specifically noted the “nominal” entrance requirements, less than “fair” teaching facilities, ungraded instruction, inadequate clinical opportunities, and an unorganized dispensary. 


In 1906 competition arrived in the form of Memphis College of Physicians and Surgeons.  In 1911 the Medical Department of the University of Tennessee was moved to Memphis and absorbed the College of Physicians and Surgeons. In 1913 M.H.M.C. merged with this entity to create today’s University of Tennessee College of Medicine.

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Bricks and Mortar

The original home of Memphis Hospital Medical College was a new building on Union Avenue, across the street from Memphis City Hospital.  It featured a lecture hall seating 615, an amphitheatre seating 400, a dissecting room seating 160 and two large laboratories. City Hospital was available for clinical work. But as enrollment increased, these facilities soon became inadequate.  


Built at a cost of $100,000, a new building was erected in 1901.  It was located on Union Avenue at Marshall on a lot 165 feet by 320 feet.   The four-story brick and stone building featured a lecture hall seating 1,000, and an amphitheatre seating 600.  Recitation rooms seated 300.  The college dispensary occupied the entire ground floor.


In 1912 the building was leased—and later sold in 1925-- to the University of Tennessee. 


         Team name: Medicos or Doctors

         School colors: The Commercial Appeal lists colors as Orange and Purple in 1908, and as

                                  Blue and Old Gold in 1909.


I found no newspaper accounts of sporting events prior to1908.  That year the Commercial Appeal shows a baseball game against Christian Brothers and football losses to College of Physicians and Surgeons (6-5) and Young Men’s Institute (22-0).


The Medicos played close to a regular schedule in 1909 with games against Memphis University School (0-0), Christian Brothers (0-17), Memphis High School (0-16), and Physicians and Surgeons (0-34).  There may also have been games against Union University and Southwestern Presbyterian.  The University of Mississippi was a 1910 opponent. 

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Detail from a group picture of the 1908 football team.  Image supplied by Shannon  Cotham, whose great grandfather graduated from Memphis Hospital Medical College

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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