top of page

Medico-Chirurgical College of Philadelphia

Philadelphia, PA



Founders’ Week has a very thorough history of Medico-Chirurgical College to 1909.  This has been digitized by Internet ArchiveHathiTrust has placed digitized copies of two Medico-Chirurgical College Bulletins online.


Medico-Chirurgical College was an outgrowth of the Medico-Chirurgical Society of Philadelphia.  In 1867 the Society received a charter authorizing it to confer medical degrees.  But it was not until 1881 that the Society organized a faculty to conduct classes.  Beginning on the upper floor of a bank building with 31 students, Medico-Chirurgical went on to become the first medical school in Philadelphia to offer a three-year graded course leading to the M.D.  


The big year in the history of Medico-Chi was 1886.  In that year it absorbed the Pennsylvania Dental College and the Philadelphia School of Anatomy.  That year it also moved to a renovated Home for Aged and Indigent Women on Cherry Street.   By 1909 Medico-Chirurgical College enrolled 700 students taught by 143 faculty members.  The college had students enrolled in four departments—medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, and pharmaceutical chemistry.  By 1915, when the college began discussions with the University of Pennsylvania, enrollment was listed as 297—all males.







Glee Club and Mandolin Club (“Medico-Chirurgical College of Philadelphia,” The College of Physicians of Philadelphia Digital Library, accessed February 17, 2015, <>).

Abraham Flexner’s survey of the college in 1909 praised the clinical facilities and found laboratories adequate for undergraduate work.  It criticized the teaching of basic courses on a business model and the mingling of medical, dental and pharmacy students in classes.  It also noted that Medico-Chi accepted and gave passing grades to students that had failed at other medical colleges. 

Medico-Chirurgical College had chapters of Phi Chi and Phi Rho Sigma medical fraternities in addition to numerous local medical societies.  These groups provided social functions often involving banquets, smokers, talent shows, and musical entertainments for the students.


New York Times article in 1916 shows that Medico-Chirurgical College had merged with the University of Pennsylvania Medical College and Jefferson Medical College.  With this merger, Medico-Chirurgical lost its identity, becoming a post-graduate division of the merger.

Bricks and Mortar

Ultimately, Medico-Chirurgical College became a six-building complex with hospitals, clinics, dispensary, amphitheater, and laboratory occupying the entire block of Cherry Street between 17th and 18th Avenues.


In 1918, the University of Pennsylvania sold the Medico-Chi complex to the City of Philadelphia so that it could be razed to make way for the new Franklin Expressway.

(Above) The six-building Medico-Chirurgical complex.  College Hall is the third building from the left. (CardCow <> accessed 11-12-2017


       Colors: Red and Green


Medico-Chi played football between 1886 and 1909.  Their favorite opponent (or hated rival) was Jefferson Medical College.  The two Philadelphia medical schools met regularly at the end of each season.  College Football Data Warehouse shows Medico-Chi with a 6-5-1 record in the series.  Other common opponents were Temple, Widener, Williamson Trade School, College of Pharmacy, Haverford, Muhlenberg, Lafayette, and Philadelphia Dental College.  In no season did the Red and Green enjoy more than moderate success


Medico-Chirurgical dropped all sports in 1909 following the death of a player, Michael Burke, from a concussion in a game against Philadelphia College of Pharmacy.


Medico-Chi also fielded teams in basketball and baseball.  In 1900 they played Jefferson for the championship in baseball.  Basketball teams competed in the Intercollegiate League.

The 1909 football team from Medico-Chirurgical College of Philadelphia. Spalding Official Football Guide;view=1up;seq=394  accessed 11-12-2017

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.

bottom of page