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Kansas Medical College

Topeka, Kansas



As the medical department of Washburn College, Kansas Medical College is profiled in early Washburn catalogs. The 1909 Flexner Report both profiled and criticized the school.  The Topeka State Journal carried news of and ads for the school.  Newspaper images are from Chronicling America.


Chartered in July of 1889 by a group of Topeka doctors, Kansas Medical College was the oldest medical school in the state.  Classes began in October 1890 for 26 students.  The first graduation class in 1892 consisted of two.   But the enrollment grew, reaching 100 students in 1900 with 27 graduates.   But increased standards and competition from the University of Kansas Medical College (founded 1905) caused enrollment to fall.  Flexner lists enrollment as 65 in 1909.  Student wives began attending classes in 1892, with the first two graduating in 1896. 


The program originally consisted of three years of six months each.  But K.M.C. followed the American Medical Association guidelines, increasing the curriculum to four years in 1902 and the school year to seven months in 1904.


The curriculum required a minimum of 4,000 hours of work.  Students were tested in each course at the end of each semester.  Students had clinical privileges at both Christ’s Hospital and the Topeka State Hospital for the Insane.  In addition, the Free Dispensary was a part of K.M.C. even before classes began, and arrangements were made for students to assist physicians in out-patient care. 


K.M.C. students were granted access to the activities and organizations available to Washburn students.


After its 1909 visit, the Flexner team was critical of K.M.C.  They found limited funds for maintenance ($4,876 in fees), no-full-time faculty, and limited facilities listed as an “indescribably filthy” dissecting room, no museum, “poorly kept” labs, and a “small room” dispensary.  In summary, they felt that the new state rule requiring one year of college-level work before matriculation  would end the school.


This observation turned out to be true.  At the end of the 1912-13 school year, Kansas Medical College was merged with the State University Medical College at Lawrence.

Bricks and Mortar

With enrollment at 60 in 1894, KMC found it necessary to find larger quarters.  Trustees were able to purchase the old Higginbotham Place at the corner of Tyler and 12th Streets.  This included a seventeen-room, three-story brick building.  Renovations created two lecture halls and a reception room on the ground floor, three labs on the second floor, and a dissecting room on the third floor.  The free dispensary was located in the basement area.  That property was sold and the building razed in 1908.


In 1907 the school acquired the old Odd Fellows Lodge property at 521 Quincy Street.  Initially, the school occupied the top two floors over a paint company, later acquiring the entire building.


The building in the image at left bears the names of both the medical college and the short-lived dental college.  The International Organization of Odd Fellows logo is at the top.  As late as 1922, part of the Odd Fellows building was being used for Bible study by a non- denominational group.

(left)Kansas Medical College in 1911.  Image from Topeka, Kansas, A Capital City;view=1up;seq=20


       Team name:  Like most medical school teams, this was called the                                 Medics

       Colors: Purple and Gold


As early as 1896 the State Journal reported that K.M.C. had the heaviest “foot ball” team in the state, averaging 160 (later corrected to 180) pounds.  In 1899 the newspaper notes that students “are talking of organizing a football team.”  Finally in 1901 that team became a reality.  The Medics, consisting of “only bona fide scholars,” compiled a 3-1-2 record that year.  They defeated the Atcheson Athletic Club twice 12-0 and 6-0 and the Kansas City Dental College 6-5.  The Medics played scoreless draws with State Normal (now Emporia State) and Washburn.  The only loss was to St. Mary’s College 13-0.  A game with College of Emporia was cancelled.


The 1902 Medics schedule included games with Haskell and the Kansas Aggies as well as St. Mary’s and Emporia.  But attempts to field a merged team with Washburn resulted in only two games for the Medics.  After losing an opening game to Ottawa 11-0, most subsequent games were lost either to weather or to conflicts with Washburn. Bethany College records show that the “Terrible Swedes” suffered only one loss in 1902—a 12-11 loss to the “Washburn Medics.”   

Sketch of some players on the 1901 Medics.

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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