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Medicine in Ann Arbor, 1850

Less than a decade after the University of Michigan opened its doors in Ann Arbor, the new Medical Department opened. It soon gained fame for its emphasis on scientific study. The Chemical Laboratory was added next door in 1856, the first of its kind in the nation.

In 1869 the Medical School established the first teaching hospital in the country. Originally housed in a former faculty residence on North University, it was expanded with long wooden pavilions in 1877. Though nurses played a vital role in the operation of the hospital from its beginning, it was not until large new hospitals were built on Catherine Street in 1891 that the university established its own School of Nursing.

In 1874 Victor Vaughan came to teach and do graduate work in chemistry, receiving after two years one of the first two Ph.D. degrees granted by UM. As dean of the Medical School from 1891 to 1921, Vaughan made Michigan an important center of medical education, assembling an outstanding faculty distinguished for teaching as well as for internationally recognized research.

Dr. David Murray Cowie, professor of pediatrics and communicable diseases, was well known in Ann Arbor. In the 1920s and 1930s, his plush private hospital at 320 South Division boasted an elevator and nurses in pink uniforms. Cowie led the campaign that eliminated the serious problem of goiter in Michigan children through his successful effort to have iodine added to ordinary table salt.

Caption 1: The city helped pay for the Pavilion Hospital, seen here from campus in 1877. It was demolished in 1899 to make way for the Chemistry Building.

Caption 2: Nurses pose on Catherine Street around 1910 in front of, left to right, the Medical Ward (originally the Homeopathic Hospital), the Palmer Ward, and the Surgical Ward (originally the Allopathic Hospital).

Caption 3: A national expert in public health and epidemiology, he worked in his laboratory almost to the end of his life.

Caption 4: He initiated the specialty of pediatrics at UM Medical School.

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