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Lincoln Medical College

Bethany and Lincoln, Nebraska

1890-1918 (?)


“Jim McKee: A Medical College for Bethany” appeared in the Lincoln Journal Star in 2014.  Leonidas Moomaw profiles the college in his History of Cotner University.  Lincoln Medical College is also profiled in the Flexner Report in 1909. Both the Journal Star and the Omaha World-Herald covered some school events.  The ad (right) is from The American Medical Journal of 1902.


Lincoln Medical College was founded by a group of eclectic physicians who entered into an agreement with Cotner University at Bethany.   Cotner would house the medical college and have the right to approve the faculty; the physicians would ensure that the school was self-supporting.  L.M.C. opened in fall 1890.  The initial program was three years of six months each.  By 1916 the program had been extended by stages to four years of eight months. 


L.M.C. remained a small school.  Flexner listed enrollment as 42 in 1909.  McKee shows 69 in 1904, likely the high water mark.  The Journal of the American Medical Association lists 1917-18 enrollment as “about 16.” There were 14 graduates (all males) in 1897. The graduating class of 13 in 1901 contained one female.  The largest graduating class I found was 22 in 1904.  There were only three graduates in 1918.  Moomaw gives 249 as the total number of graduates to 1916.  


The Flexner Report was dismissive of L.M.C.  It noted the nominal entrance requirements, the miniscule amount of operating funds ($3,794 annually from fees), the lack of labs beyond a chemistry lab, and the absence of clinical opportunities.  The American Medical Association gave L.M.C. a “Class C” rating reserved for those schools deemed unacceptable.  Moomaw reported that the school’s relationship with Cotner University ended around 1916.


By 1918 L.M.C. graduates were no longer allowed to take the state exam qualifying them for a medical license.  At that time 32 other states refused to recognize the L.M.C. diploma. 


Some time after World War I, L.M.C. closed.  In 1918 the Phi Chi Quarterly refers to L.M.C. as “reported closed.”  An article in the World-Herald in 1921 refers to the “old Lincoln Medical College.”

Members of the Eclectic Medical Society of Cotner University.  Image from the 1914 Croaker Courtesy of  Midcontinent Public Library.

Bricks and Mortar

Lincoln Medical College opened in classrooms on the fourth floor of the main building of Cotner University.  (See the Cotner University entry on this website for a Card Cow image of that building).  But in order to provide more clinical experience for students, L.M.C. in 1894 acquired the Hotel Ideal at 121 S. 14th Street, in the heart of Lincoln.   The hotel was converted into a college and hospital with open clinic hours. 

A large building on the property allowed space for the creation of a short-lived dental college.  The World-Herald reported in 1898 that a small building on the grounds was being used as a dissecting room, the stench from which let to Dr. J.M. McLeod being fined $10 for maintaining a nuisance.


McKee reported that after L.M.C. left, the building again served as a hotel until it was razed in 1920.

The Hotel Ideal.  Image taken from College History Garden


          Team name:  As usual, newspapers refer to the team as Medics

          Colors: Scarlet and Gold


The first newspaper references I found were losses to Fremont High School, Beatrice High School and the David City “Lightweights” in 1899.  The Spalding Football Guide shows a seven-game schedule in 1900—home and away matches with Cotner University, Doane College, and Seward Athletic Association—all victories.  The team’s only loss came in an end-of the season game with the University of South Dakota 6-0.


In 1902 L.M.C. became a member of the Nebraska Collegiate Athletic League, finishing with a 2-2 record.  The Medics defeated Grand Island and Hastings while losing to Bellevue and Doane.  That team also lost to Creighton University and Washburn.  The following year L.M.C. defeated the Stromsberg “Invincibles” but was dismissed from the N.C.A.L. for “professionalism.”


Anticipating a “strong team” in 1904, the school ordered “union suits” and looked for a coach. McKee notes that that team lost to the University of Nebraska 29-0.  The last newspaper reference I found showed a 10-0 loss to a team from Tecumseh in 1907. 

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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