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Massachusetts College of Osteopathy

Boston and Cambridge, Massachusetts



Most of what we have on M.C.O. is through references in Boston area newspapers and advertisements in the Journal of Osteopathy.   David Fosler provided a copy of the 1917 Emseeo, the school yearbook, source of the seal and the image of the 1898 graduates (shown below)

Massachusetts Osteopathy seal_edited.jpg


Founded as the Boston College of Osteopathy, the school underwent a name change in 1903 to Massachusetts College of Osteopathy.  In 1906 Massachusetts College of Osteopathy received a state license to award the Doctor of Osteopathy degree.  The 1905 graduating class of 11 students was the first under the three-year program.  The program was increased to four years in 1915.  From a nominal high school entrance requirement, prerequisite became two years of college by the 1930’s. 


In the 1920’s the school lost its American Osteopathic Association approval, but continued as an unaccredited school until 1942.  When it also lost its state recognition, it was forced to close.




MOC 1898 Graduates_edited.jpg

The Flexner Report gives an “attendance” of 90 in 1909.  The same year 20 diplomas were awarded.  Graduation numbers reached 24 in 1912 and were 20 as late as 1928.  By 1939 they had fallen to 14.  


Two osteopathic fraternities and one sorority had chapters on campus.  Male students were members of Iota Tau Sigma or Phi Sigma Gamma; females belonged to Kappa Psi Delta.  There was also an Axis Club.

Newspapers show that M.C.O. also had an orchestra.


Through a suicide-murder, M.C.O. made national news in 1916.  Following the suicide of Dr. Cecilia Adams, her fiancé Dr. Ellridge D. Atwood shot Wilfred E. Harris, president of the college, believing that Harris had “wronged” Adams. Atwood received a life sentence for the murder.

Bricks and Mortar

Massachusetts College of Osteopathy had a peripatetic existence.  The original home was in The Ilkey at 178 Huntington Avenue in Boston.  When enrollment increased, the college moved to 696 Huntington Ave. and then to 588 Huntington Ave.  In 1902 the school moved out to Cambridge in apartments at 15 Craigie Street.  Because of the distance to a hospital, the school purchased the Johanna Quinn House at 85 Otis Street. 


In 1916 M.C.O. moved into “serious” quarters—a three-story brick building with basement, measuring 75 x 67 feet.  It featured an ampitheatre seating 130, three lecture rooms, and three laboratories.  Now students had their own dispensary and clinic with surgical rooms.  A 35-bed hospital was attached.   The buildings were at the corner of 4th and Otis.


The last address for the school was 621 Commonwealth Avenue in Boston, described as “new and enlarged quarters.”   Today this building houses the Linguistics Department of Boston University.

621 Commonwealth, the last home of Massachusetts College of Osteopathy. <,-71.101378,3a,75y,6.7h,90t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sjaA6uy4qvDORO_xcJLJWjA!2e0>) accessed 11-7-2017



M.C.O had an athletic association to raise funds for and support school sports.  College Football Data Warehouse notes that M.C.O. played football in 1909 losing to Boston College 14-0 and to St. Anselm’s in New Hampshire 23-5.  The school played basketball in the 1920’s defeating University of Massachusetts twice in 1926 but losing to The Rivers School and Allen Chalmers School in 1923.  In 1927 and 1928 M.C.O. fielded a wrestling team, losing to the Boston YMCA

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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