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Purdue University School of Medicine collection

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSP 174

Scope and Contents

The Purdue University School of Medicine collection documents the history of the short-lived School of Medicine of Purdue University, from its 1905 inception until its eventual 1908 merger with Indiana University and transformation into the current Indiana University School of Medicine. Topics covered in the collection include pre-medical courses offered at Purdue prior to 1905; early attempts by Indiana medical colleges to merge with Indiana University and Purdue University; the 1905 mergers of the Medical College of Indiana, Central College of Physicians and Surgeons, and the Fort Wayne College of Medicine with Purdue University to form the "The Indiana Medical College, the School of Medicine of Purdue University;" the controversy and legal dispute between Indiana University and Purdue University over Purdue’s acquisition of and running of a medical school; and the 1908 merger of the Purdue School of Medicine with Indiana University.

Also present in the collection are material documenting the students, faculty, and course offerings of the Purdue School of Medicine, including course catalogs, registers of students, faculty and staff lists, and the student publication “The Medical Student.”

Types of material present in the collection include scrapbooks, newspaper clippings, manuscripts, journal articles, correspondence, course catalogs, pamphlets, and legal documents.


  • 1895 - 1997
  • Majority of material found within 1905 - 1907


Language of Materials

Collection material is in English.

Access Information

Collection is open for research.

Copyright and Use Information

Portions of the material in this collection are in the public domain. Other material copyrights held by Purdue University or original creator. Consult with Purdue University Archives and Special Collections prior to reproduction of materials.

Historical Information

The School of Medicine at Purdue University operated from 1905-1908. Though only in existence for a short time, it incited much controversy in Indiana, splitting the medical and political establishments of the time and threatening to sour relations between Purdue and rival Indiana University (IU).

Prior to 1905, medical education in Indiana had been provided by several private colleges, though there were several attempts to connect these colleges with state universities. The first attempt occurred in 1903, when the Medical College of Indiana, located in Indianapolis, entered into formal negotiations with IU regarding the union of their institutions. Discussions continued into 1904, but a fundamental disagreement on where the resulting school of medicine would be located, with the Medical College of Indiana desiring it remain in Indianapolis, and IU wanting it moved to Bloomington, led to negotiations failing and being abandoned.

The second attempt occurred during the negotiations of the first, when Purdue University was approached by representatives of the Central College of Physicians and Surgeons of Indianapolis about a similar union. This offer was also declined, with Purdue authorities not wanting to interfere with the concurrent negotiations between IU and the Medical College of Indiana.

In May 1905, the Medical College of Indiana presented Purdue University with the same proposal which had failed ratification with Indiana University. The Trustees of Purdue University took the proposal under consideration, and in September 1905 the proposal of the Medical College was formally accepted. The Medical College of Indiana became a department of Purdue University, and was renamed "The Indiana Medical College, the School of Medicine of Purdue University."

In short order, the Central College of Physicians and Surgeons and the Fort Wayne College of Medicine also expressed interest in joining with Purdue University, and on September 25, 1905 and October 2, 1905, respectfully, both institutions were formally merged into the new School of Medicine of Purdue University.

Following these mergers, they were subject to a controversy with IU and its alumni, who believed that IU alone was granted the right to offer medical degrees in Indiana, citing its 1838 authorization from the state legislature. The controversy continued from 1906-1908, with the medical and political communities of Indiana split between those in favor of IU running the medical school, and those who supported Purdue University.

Finally, in the spring of 1908, a compromise was met between both sides. The two schools’ medical programs would be combined into a single IU School of Medicine in Indianapolis, and governed by a Board of Directors representing IU, Purdue University, and the Indiana State Medical Society. This lasted until 1909, when the state legislature clearly mandated that Indiana University assume full responsibility for the state's public medical school, officially ending Purdue’s involvement.


1.134 Cubic Feet (Two letter-size full-width manuscript boxes, one letter-size half-width manuscript box, and one legal-size half-width manuscript box)


The collection has been arranged into three series by document type and subject matter.
  1. Correspondence
  2. University Records
  3. Purdue School of Medicine History

Physical Access Information

Material in this collection are fragile and should be handled with care.

Acquisition Information

"The Fort Wayne Medical Schools 1876-1905 and union with Purdue University" manuscript donated by Dr. Edmund Van Buskirk in March 1976. Source and date of acquisition for remaining material are unknown.

Processing Information

All materials have been housed in acid-free folders, and acid-free boxes.

03/27/2023: Physical collection rearranged and new series created to better represent the material present. Documents were re-foldered and placed into new boxes so that legal-sized materials are now located in legal-sized folders and boxes, and letter-sized documents are in letter-sized folders and boxes. Integrated one scrapbook and six journals into the collection.
Purdue University School of Medicine collection
Under Review
William Niner and Mary A. Sego
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Edition statement
Third edition. Collection description first completed by Mary A. Sego 2014-09-12.

Revision Statements

  • 2020-02-24: Collection description updated to new standards by Mary A. Sego.
  • 2023-03-27: Second scrapbook and medical journals added, collection rearranged and new series created, and collection description updated by William Niner.

Repository Details

Part of the Purdue University Archives and Special Collections Repository

504 Mitch Daniels Boulevard
West Lafayette Indiana 47907 United States