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Central Medical College

St. Joseph, Missouri


Travel and E-Travel

The State Historical Society of Missouri provided the yearly announcements of Central Medical College.  The college was located in the same block as the St. Joseph News-Press where my wife worked when we lived in St. Joseph.  The ad right is from The Missouri Sanitarium.


Central Medical College was founded in 1894 by six local physicians who had broken away from Northwestern Medical College.  They intended to create a medical school “of high character,” which would be “second to none west of Chicago.”


C.M.C., one of three medical colleges in St. Joseph in 1894, remained a small school.  The 1904 Announcement shows 72 students taught by 18 regular faculty members.  About two-thirds of students were from Missouri.  Matriculates were required to have a high school diploma or its equivalent and to be of high moral character, attested by a physician. 







Alcorn family_edited.jpg

Dr. Reilly J. Alcorn and his wife Dr. Cora H. Alcorn with their children.  The Doctors Alcorn were both graduates of Central Medical College in 1898 and 1900 respectively.  Find a Grave image posted by Kathie Alcorn H.

The program, originally three years of six months, was increased to four years of seven months in 1902.  At this time students were examined twice.  After two years they were examined over basic coursework such as chemistry, medical physics, anatomy, biology and physiology.  The final examination covered the more specialized fields such as obstetrics, gynecology, neurology, pathology, and medical jurisprudence.  


Part of the instruction was didactic in nature.  But the 1904 Announcement proudly points out that lectures had been reformed from “oratorical display” to “a system of instruction and questioning.” During the last years, students were more involved in clinical work in the school’s dispensary and emergency hospital as well as in hospitals throughout the city.

The announcements give little space to other aspects of student life other than to note that St. Joseph had excellent libraries.  By 1902 the Announcement notes that a Galenian debating society had been formed.  An Alumni Association provided contacts for graduates.  Each year after graduation the Alumni Association gave a banquet for the new graduates.


After the 1904-05 school year, CMC merged with rival Ensworth Medical College.

Bricks and Mortar

The founders of C.M.C. immediately purchased and remodeled a three-story brick building in downtown St. Joseph at the southwest corner of 9th and Felix streets.  The pit of the building featured an amphitheater for lectures and demonstrations.  Later lecture halls and a second surgical theatre were added.   The building contained chemical, pathological, and bacteriological laboratories—all featuring the best equipment available.  It also contained a pathological museum, a cabinet of material medica, as well as a library and reading room.


During the decade in which Central Medical College was in existence, the population of St. Joseph grew from 70,000 to more than 100,000.  This allowed the college to advertise that “types of almost every disease were exhibited” for clinical work.  In addition to the free clinic, dispensary, and emergency hospital located at the college, students had access to St. Joseph’s Hospital, operated by the Sisters of Charity; the City Hospital, the County Hospital and the State Lunatic Hospital.  Also there was no shortage of cadavers for dissecting.


Image from Announcements 1893-94.


        Team name: Medics, “Sawers of Bones”


College Football Data Warehouse shows only one game—a 34-0 loss to neighbor and rival Ensworth Medical College in 1901.  But newspapers show activity in 1898—a 36-0 loss to University Medical College in Kansas City, in addition to games against the University of Kansas, Midland College and Hiawatha, KS.


In 1901 the announcement first mentions football, noting that “in past years the team has given, both in and out of the City, a number of public exhibitions with very good showing.”  That year the team played close to a complete schedule, meeting Kirksville Osteopathic College, Amity College, Kansas City Dental College, and Ensworth-- as well as St. Joseph High School, and independent teams from Emporia and Hiawatha.  


Student feeling about football was so strong that they made headlines in 1901 by hissing Professor R.S. Carpenter from the stage when he stated, “The Lord never intended you fellows for football players.”  Many threatened to transfer.

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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