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Medical College of Indiana

Indianapolis, Indiana



The 1920-21 catalogue of Indiana University provides a thumbnail sketch of the various components of its medical school.  Marion County InGenWeb has a sketch of the founding of Indiana Medical College.  The 1880-81 Medical College of Indiana Bulletin is online from the American Association of Medical Colleges. Dr. Theodore Potter’s “Recent Evolution in Medical Education” contains a good account of Indiana Medical College in 1889 and in 1902.


Dr. Helen Knabe (right), was a 1904 graduate of  Medical College of Indiana.  One of the nation's foremost experts on rabies, she was murdered in 1911 at age 35.  The case was never solved.


The Medical College of Indiana at Indianapolis was founded in 1869, an outgrowth of the Indianapolis Academy of Medicine; a dispute over admission policies led a breakaway group of faculty to found the College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1874.  In 1878 the two groups recombined as the Medical College of Indiana, operating in conjunction with Butler University.   The 1880-81 Bulletin shows eleven professors and a student body with 179 matriculants and 61 graduates.


Potter shows that in 1889 while entrance requirements were “theoretically: a fair English education; practically, none.” There was only one examination, given at the end of the program.  And while there were two terms of five months each, students “straggled in” one or two months late, and “slipped out” one or two months early.  Faculty members were often late for lecturers; at times missing them entirely. 


By 1902, these flaws had been corrected.  There was now an entrance examination to insure that only qualified candidates were admitted.  Examinations were given twice yearly to weed out weak candidates well before graduation. The program had been lengthened to three and then to four terms of seven months; attendance throughout was compulsory.


In 1896 Medical College of Indiana became the Medical Department of the University of Indianapolis.


In the meantime, the Central College of Physicians and Surgeons of Indianapolis and the Fort Wayne College of Medicine were both founded in 1879.  In 1905 these two colleges joined the Medical College of Indiana to form the School of Medical of Purdue University.  After prolonged debate in the legislature concerning the dispute between Indiana University and Purdue University as to who would control medical education in Indiana, the Indiana University School of Medicine was formed in 1908.


Bricks and Mortar

The 1880-81 bulletin notes that the college had a new building constructed at the corner of Pennsylvania and Maryland streets.  The location was close to downtown and the hospitals but far enough removed so as “not to be disturbed.”  The bulletin was pleased with the heat and ventilation of the building and of the comfort of the seats of the amphitheater.


However, Potter notes that in 1889 the college had only the top two floors, as the Indianapolis Gas Company occupied the ground floor.   He further notes that the building contained only one lecture hall. A fire in 1894 destroyed this building.


In 1895 the college occupied a new building at the corner of Market Street and North Senate Street.  This was a larger four-story building.  It contained an amphitheater and a dispensary on the ground floor, a museum, classrooms and offices on the second; a library, another amphitheater and dissecting rooms on the third floor and laboratories on the top floor.


In “History of the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine,” Dr. Kathleen Warfel Hull states that the merged schools moved to this building.   notes that none of the buildings on the west side of the capitol still stand.  

The Central State Hospital for the Insane, a state of the art facility built in 1895, was used by Medical College of Indiana for classes in neurology and psychiatry. Now on the National Register, it serves as the Indiana Medical History Museum.  Photo by Huw William accessed 11-27-2017

The Market and North Senate Street building. (<;view=1up;seq=114>) accessed 11-27-2017


      Teamname: Medics or Doctors


College Football Data Warehouse shows Indiana Medical College playing a football game in 1903 and a six-game schedule in 1904.  The 1903 team lost to Shortridge High School of Indianapolis 10-0 and to Central College of Physicians and Surgeons.

According to the St. Paul Globe, after the 1903 season, Indiana Medical College hired Michigan all-America end Curtis Redden to coach the 1904 team.  Redden instigated a training regimen to prepare the 1904 team to avenge a defeat by Central.   The 1904 team defeated Miami of Ohio 51-0, and avenged the loss to Central 16-0; they played a 6-6 draw with Earlham College.  The team lost to Indiana 12-0, to DePauw 14-0 and to Purdue 34-5.

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