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Penn History

Philadelphia Medical History and the University of Pennsylvania

During the middle of the 1700s a number of American medical firsts took place in Philadelphia – the first hospital (Pennsylvania Hospital, 1751), the first anatomical lecture (William Shippen, Jr., 1762), and the first medical school (University of Pennsylvania, 1765). The nineteenth century saw changes to medical education, and an increase in the number of medical schools and hospitals in the city as Philadelphia became the nation’s epicenter for medical education. The University of Pennsylvania has been at the center of Philadelphia’s medical history from its beginnings. While some establishments were unable to stand the test of time, Penn has grown and in some cases absorbed a few of its former rivals. This page provides a gateway to the history of medicine as it relates to the University, the Medical School, and the Hospital; as well as brief histories of extinct Philadelphia medical schools. It should be noted that the University Archives does not hold patient records for any hospitals.

It should be noted that while many people came to Philadelphia during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries to further their medical knowledge, not all of them attended the University of Pennsylvania. Additionally, attending a medical school was not a requirement to becoming a physician in the United States until the turn of the twentieth century.

Medico-Chirurgical College of Philadelphia seal, 1916
Schools and Hospitals Absorbed by Penn Medicine
Eclectic Medical College of Pennsylvania, medical lecture ticket, 1859
Eclectic Medical College of Pennsylvania, medical lecture ticket, 1859
Extinct Philadelphia Medical Schools