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Medical College of Ohio

Cincinnati, Ohio



Daniel Drake and his followers; historical and biographical Sketches covers the founding and early history of the school.  The Cincinnati Enquirer covered school events.  Early University of Cincinnati yearbooks are available through its Digital Resource Commons.   The image of Daniel Drake, M.D. (right) is from

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Medical College of Ohio was chartered in 1819 as a “college for instruction of physic, surgery, and the auxiliary sciences.”  The founder, Dr. Daniel Drake, became President of the college as well as Professor of Theory and Practice of Medicine.  Classes began on November 1, 1820 for 24 students.  The departments were Anatomy, Surgery, Materia Medica, Obstetrics and Diseases of Women and Children, Chemistry, and Theory and Practice of Medicine.   A common school education was required for entrance.  At the first commencement of 1821 seven students completed the two-year program.

Ohio History Central notes, “The first several decades of the Medical College of Ohio's existence were rocky to say the least.”  Drake was removed as president on 1922.  Despite this, the 1830-31 catalog shows an enrollment of 140 from 15 states.   Then in 1852 the rival Miami Medical College was founded by disgruntled M.C.O. faculty.  Enrollment at M.C.O. fell to 121 that year.


Enrollment increased in the 1880’s.  The number of  matriculates passed 200 annually with more than 100 graduates.  But with the program increased to four-years in 1894, the number of graduates again dropped


Medical College of Ohio received a chapter of the Nu Sigma Nu medical fraternity in 1892.   In 1895 students organized the Connor Surgical Society which met regularly to hear a paper and discuss a surgical issue.  The society sponsored an annual banquet.


In 1896 Medical College of Ohio surrendered its charter to the University of Cincinnati, becoming its Department of Medicine.  Nevertheless, it maintained its identity until 1909 when it merged with Miami Medical College. 

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Members of the Nu Sigma Nu fraternity.  Image from the 1902 Cincinnatian, University of Cincinnati Digital Resource Commons.

In 1826 the college purchased land on Sixth Street between Race and Vine streets and built a brick structure measuring 91 by 54 feet.  The first floor contained faculty rooms, a library, and the chemistry lecture room.  The second floor contained the lecture halls for Theory of Medicine and Materia Medica.  The top floor had the anatomy lecture hall and the cabinet.  The building was much praised because it was built specifically as a medical school and for its convenient location.  By 1835 Graham Magazine mentions additions and improvements to the building.  The1875 Illustrated Cincinnati noted a Dispensary Hall, two grand amphitheaters and a meeting hall seating 400.


This building served the college for half a century.  In 1896 when the college associated with the University of Cincinnati, classes moved to the McMicken Hall.  A year later the old college building was razed to make way for the seven-story Butler Building.


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Bricks and Mortar

Classes opened in rooms on the second floor of Isaac Drake’s General Store at 91 Main Street.

Drake was also the prime mover behind the creation of the Commercial Hospital and Insane Asylum.  Since the faculty of the medical school served as medical staff of the Commercial Hospital, Medical College students had clinical experience there.

An 1851 print of the Medical College of Ohio building .  Image from


            Team name: “Medics”

The November 12, 1893 Enquirer reported that in “one of the fiercest foot-ball games ever played in Cincinnati,” Miami Medical College defeated Medical College of Ohio.   No score was given.  While this game was supposedly the first of three to be played between the schools, no further games were reported.


After the merger, medical students helped build the fortunes of the University of Cincinnati football and baseball teams.    However the 1902 Cincinnatian reported that “after the first football game, the Medics seceded taking with them the bulk of the team.”   Football Data Warehouse reported two games for the Medics on their own that season—a 41-0 loss to Ohio Wesleyan and a 5-0 loss to Butler.  The Enquirer also reported a victory over Eclectic Medical College 17-0 and a loss to Avondale Athletic Club 18-5.  The Indianapolis Journal noted of the the Medics, “Many of them [were] adorned with mustaches or other hirsute growths on their faces as a mark of dignity.” 

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