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Wisconsin College of Physicians and Surgeons

Milwaukee, Wisconsin



The Medical College of Wisconsin archive has placed digital copies of annual catalogs and graduation announcements for Wisconsin College of Physicians and Surgeons online.  HathiTrust has the 1902-03 announcement for the Department of Dental Surgery.


The first medical college in the state, Wisconsin College of Physicians Surgeons opened in 1893 with 42 students and a teaching staff of 22.  In 1899 a dental department was added.  In 1903 Lucy Amstel became the first female to graduate from the school.


The 1902-03 catalog showed a student body of 102 with 23 graduates and 16 matriculates.  1893 Entrance requirements called for a series of six tests for a student to demonstrate proficiency in essay writing, mathematics, Latin, history of the United States, physics, botany and zoology.


Instruction during the students’ first year focused on their amassing a solid medical knowledge base; hence, instruction was primarily by lecture, recitation and demonstration.  But soon the student was trained “to perform his share of the practical work of his profession.”  He was expected to perform--with supervision—his own laboratory experiments and ultimately to function in clinical practice.


Bricks and Mortar

Each catalog mentions the Milwaukee location as having a climate and temperature range “especially salubrious.”  It also notes the inexpensive living costs and the excellent transportation facilities


In 1898 Wisconsin College of Physicians and Surgeons moved into a new building at the corner of Fourth Street and Reservoir Avenue.  The five story red-brick structure featured a top floor devoted entirely to anatomy.  The dissecting room was lighted throughout with skylights.  The lower floors featured two large and three small lecture halls, a large amphitheater, a dispensary with consulting rooms, and the Solon Marks laboratories. 


Across the street was St. Joseph’s Hospital where students did much of their clinical work.  Also in the vicinity was the Milwaukee County Hospital and the Milwaukee Asylum for the Insane.  In 1906 the new Maternity Hospital was opened, providing another clinical opportunity.


In his 1910 visit, Flexner found the building attractive and some labs only ordinary.  But he judged the bacteriology lab to be “poor and very disorderly” and the one for anatomy “very poor.”  He termed the clinical arrangements with St. Joseph’s and the County Hospital “utterly wretched.”


Google image of the Reservoir Street Lofts.  (,+Milwaukee) accessed 1-20-2017

Beyond providing smoking and reading rooms on every floor, the college showed little interest in the social life of students.  The Department of Dental Surgery announcement states, “During the season one or two dancing parties will be given in the large new operatory.  Students must not form an idea that his course with us is one round of pleasure.  It is, however, our desire to make his work as pleasant as possible.”


According to Baird’s Manual of American College Fraternities, P.& S. students had chapters of  Phi Rho Sigma, and Phi Delta medical fraternities and a chapter of the Phi Omega dental fraternity.


In 1906, College of P.& S. affiliated with  Carroll College at nearby Waukesha.  Following the Flexner Report, C.& P. was purchased by Marquette University in 1913.  Since 1967 it has been an independent medical school called Medical College of Wisconsin.

Wisconsin College of Physicians and Surgeons catalogs praised "the efficient cooperation of the good Sisters and their corps of nurses" of St. Joseph's Hospital. Image courtesy of

After the merger the Fourth and Reservoir location was used by Marquette until 1932, when a new building was constructed.  Today the Fourth and Reservoir building has been converted into upscale condos called Reservoir Street Lofts.


The 1902 D.D.S. catalog contains the note: “Athletics are encouraged but not to the extent of infringing upon the students’ duties.”  The same catalog notes, “A football team is maintained by the college and a number of interesting games are played during the season with local and visiting teams.”


College Football Data Warehouse shows football activity in both 1900 and 1904.  The 1900 team lost to Chicago Dentals and Whitewater Normal.  The 1904 team lost to Marquette.


Despite the presence of a “Commodious and well equipped gymnasium” in the college building, Wisconsin C.& P. apparently did not play basketball.

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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