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St. Louis College of Physicians and Surgeons

St. Louis, Missouri

1869-73, 1879-1927


The State Historical Society of Missouri has the catalogs for St. Louis College of Physicians and Surgeons.  McGarvey Ice (<>) has images from the 1901-02 catalogue.


Claiming to be the oldest medical school in Missouri, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of St. Louis was founded in 1869, operating through 1873.  Reorganized in 1879, it operated independently through 1915, was briefly associated with National College of Arts and Science, before returning to independent status.

The1906-07 catalog shows that the school had adopted the four-year program with each session being seven months.  Matriculates were required to have either a bachelor's degree, a high school diploma, or a successful entrance examination.  The program emphasized both knowledge and the application of knowledge, with the final two years moving toward clinical experience.


Jefferson Hospital, owned by the college,  adjoined it.  Among other hospitals available for clinical experience were St. Louis City Hospital, Municipal Female Hospital, St. Louis County Insane Asylum, and St. Louis City Poor Hospital.


At the first commencement in 1870, the speaker asserted that women were emotionally and physically unqualified "to relieve human suffering."  Despite this, 29-year-old Kate Spain became the school's first female graduate in 1895. The Flexner Report lists an enrollment of 224 in 1909.   Given the school's location, the bulk of students came from Illinois and Missouri. 


Social life at the college seems to have been limited. The 1906-07 catalog states that the Y.M.C.A. brought in the best ministers in the city to offer religious services to the students, and that it had the use of a large amphitheater for its programs.  The St. Louis Clinique mentions the Junior Ball in which "a good time was reported by all." That year the Seniors sponsored a Washington's Birthday entertainment.  The program for the 1902 commence featured the College of Physicians and Surgeons Quartet. 


The 1911 Flexner Report excoriated the school, terming it "one of the worst in the country."   The report noted that available operating funds--only $16,035--placed the school in a position that it "cannot afford the simplest equipment,"  resulting in "squalid, despairing and . . . hopeless laboratories."


As early as 1894 the Illinois Department of Health refused to recognize diplomas of the C.P.&S. graduates.  By 1923 New York and Connecticut were the only states to accept these diplomas and the term "diploma mill"  began to appear in newspaper.  Diplomas were being sold for between $200 and $2,000.  In May of 1927 the Missouri Supreme Court revoked the charter of St. Louis C.P.&S.  


Bricks and Mortar

The second home of St. Louis College of Physicians and Surgeons was a three-story building at the corner of Jefferson Avenue and Gamble Street in Midtown St. Louis.  The building measured 119 x 75 feet.  It contained a dispensary, (which Flexner described as a "dark and dingy suite of rooms.")  The adjoining Jefferson Hospital was described by Flexner as "small, poorly lighted, badly ventilated, and overcrowded."


Of the college building itself, the blog BygoneSt.Louis says, "It is unclear when the building was demolished." 

The Jefferson Avenue at Gamble Street building.  Image from the 1906-07 catalog, courtesy of Historical Society of Missouri.


        Colors:  Red and White


The 1906-07 catalog notes that the baseball and football teams had "met with excellent success."  I was unable to verify this.  College Football Data Warehouse shows only one game--a 1902 loss by forfeit to Shurtleff College.  That 1902 team also lost to St. Louis University and played games with Farmington Business College and the West End Athletic Club.  In 1908 the team lost to the Belleville Bucks Athletic Club 12-11 and to East St. Louis High School 6-0.


The 1908 football team.  Official National Collegiate Athletic Association Football Guide,<>accessed 2-14-2017

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.

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