St. Joseph Veterinary College
St. Joseph, Missouri
Travel and E-Travel
I photographed the old St. Joseph Veterinary College building in October of 2016. Located near down town, it is only a few blocks from the Pony Express Museum. Kansas State University received the SJVC records when the school closed and has placed a history and some graduating class photos on line. SJVC advertised regularly in the St. Joseph Observer. The St. Joseph Public Library has some copies of the Tonic, the school yearbook, source of the school seal and the basketball image.
Advertised as the “only private veterinary college in the Missouri Valley,” St, Joseph Veterinary College opened in 1905, graduating its first class in 1908. Its federally approved three-year program led to a DVM degree. KSU notes that the curriculum was rigidly controlled by the government; it included anatomy, chemistry, histology, language of medicine, parasitology, pathology, and physiology— with heavy emphasis on material medica.
The entrance requirement for STVC was “two years’ high school training or its equivalent.” At the annual meeting of the Missouri Valley Veterinary Association, President Burton C. Rogers argued that requiring a high school diploma “kept out lots of fellows who had practical experience with animals but hadn’t had a chance to go to school.” He stated that requiring a high school diploma would attract only the “silver spoon king boy who is looking for a snap.” In 1914 the Omaha Bee reported that SJVC would accept students over the age of 21 who had at least one year of high school, provided they made up the entrance requirements one year before graduation. SJVC had made arrangements with the local YMCA for students to take special training in “academic courses” to allow these students to meet the requirements.
At the outbreak of World War I, SJVC student—like all veterinary students—were inducted into military service on a 24-hour-notice. There they served at remount stations and as food inspectors. Soon advertisements began to target seventeen year olds, advising them that since they were likely to be conscripted if the war continued, they should consider entering SJVC so that they would achieve an officer’s rank and pay when they entered service . At the end of the war, SJVC enjoyed its largest enrollment of 158.
Around 1919 STJC lost accreditation with the American Veterinary Medical Association—largely because it did not require a high school diploma for matriculation. Despite raising entrance requirements, SJVC was again denied accreditation in 1920 and 1921. By 1923 SJVC advertised itself as the “practitioners school,” and entrance requirements were lowered to one year of high school.
About one in three STVC students were married and maintained residence in St. Joseph. The student body was supported by a ladies auxiliary that arranged dances and other social events for the students. Newspapers note banquets and picnics in Hyde Park.
Bricks and Mortar
After outgrowing two previous buildings, STVC purchased the building at 9th and Mary in 1913. A large two-story brick building, it took up most of a square block. The building contained labs for histology, pathology, bacteriology, and chemistry. In addition to classrooms, it contained a dissecting room and a clinical amphitheater. A large assembly hall could also be used for dances, basketball games and other social events.
That building is still in use today as Gene Properties, Lofts and Apartments.
College Football Data Warehouse shows some football activity between 1920 and 1922. In 1920 a player named Arthur Williams received a serious head injury in a game with Kansas City University. The attending physician first thought the injury would be fatal, but Williams was able to recover at his home in Iowa.
The Tonic also shows a basketball team.
The SJVC building in October 2016. That building is now Gene Properties, Lofts and Apartments.
The 1916-17 basketball team. Image courtesy of the St. Joseph Public Library.