University of Louisville Medical Department

Population of Louisville in the early 1880s: 123,758

Image from the Forty-Sixth Annual Announcement of the Medical Department of the University of Louisville. 1882.

The Medical Department of the University of Louisville was noted as being, “the second oldest school in existence west of the Alleghenies.” From its conception, the Medical Department had a number of renowned faculty, teachers, and authors within the medical field. In 1908, an agreement was made to merge several of Kentucky’s medical schools. In addition to the Medical Department of the University of Louisville, The Kentucky School of Medicine, established in 1850, the Louisville Medical College, established in 1869, the Hospital College of Medicine, established in 1873, and the Medical Department of Kentucky University, established in 1898, all merged into one, formal college of medicine. These five colleges of medicine graduated more than a combined 20,000 physicians that practiced in Kentucky and every state of the Union by 1913. By merging all of these schools into one, cohesive college of medicine, it allowed for faculty and instructors to provide and maintain a higher standard than any other time.

The Medical Department was equipped with many modern laboratories in the biological and practical departments. This permitted the Department to meet all of the demands of the Boards that control the practice of medicine in every state, and of the Council on Medical Education of the American Medical Association. Additionally, the Medical Department conformed to the methods that met the requirements of the medical departments of the best universities throughout the country. The laboratories were headed by trained physicians. By 1914, the Medical Department began requiring an additional year in its curriculum; at the time, it was noted as being the sub-freshman year.

For a period, in the early 1900s, the University of Louisville was the only medical college in the State of Kentucky after the merger of the medical schools had completed. Additionally, a brand new, million-dollar hospital, City Hospital, was completed and partnered as a teaching hospital for the Medical Department.

Course of Instruction

One regular course of twenty-three weeks’ duration, one spring course of twelve weeks’ duration, and one post-graduate (practitioners’) course of six weeks duration, annually. Clinics were provided at the dispensary and hospitals. Frequent quizzes were conducted by the faculty. Lectures embraced anatomy, ophthalmology, otology, principles and practice of medicine, and clinical medicine, physiology, diseases of the chest, state medicine, and sanitary science, pathology, nervous diseases, surgery both clinical and operative, surgical pathology, obstetrics, gynecology, materia medica, therapeutics, and chemistry.

Requirements for Admission

For admission there were no requirements. In order to graduate it was required that the student be twenty-one years of age, of good moral character, completes a length of study of three years, completed two courses of lectures, one course of practical anatomy, one course of clinical instruction, and an examination on all branches taught in the college.

Cost of Attendance

Matriculation was $5; lectures were $75; demonstrator fees were $10; hospital fees were $5; graduation fees were $30.


Number of matriculates and of graduates at each sessions reported, and percentages of graduates to matriculates:


Average percentage of graduates to matriculate during the preceding six years: forty-one percent.

Student Body, Medical Department, University of Louisville
Image from the Courier-Journal, Louisville, Kentucky, 25 March 1913

Contributed by Shawn Logan |

⁘ Works Cited ⁘

  1. The Lexington Leader, 9 December 1949
  2. The Lexington Leader, 12 December 1952
  1. Medical Education and Medical Colleges in the United States and Canada, 1765-1885. Springfield, 1885.

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