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Atlanta Medical College records

Identifier: Series No. 001

Scope and Content Note

The records of the Atlanta Medical College consist of historical information, administrative records, correspondence, financial records, memorabilia, photographs and bound volumes. Historical information includes for the most part photocopies of newspaper articles from the time outlining key events of each session. Other items of interest include a copy of The Founding and Early History of the Atlanta Medical College by Dr. F. Phinizy Calhoun and an addendum to that history that was published in 1940.

Administrative records contain annual announcements from most years. The announcements include degree requirements, course descriptions, and lists of faculty, students, and alumni. Also included in this series are faculty minutes and correspondence and other records documenting the faculty controversy that took place following the Civil War. Correspondence files from the office of Dean John G. Westmoreland are minimal and relate chiefly to personnel and other administrative matters. Some correspondence relates to the school’s merger with Southern Medical College and the subsequent founding of the Atlanta College of Physicians and Surgeons. Financial records consist mainly of invoices for services and supplies and some receipts.

Memorabilia includes the graduation diploma for Moses Gatlin Campbell, lecture programs, lecture and exam tickets required for admission to class, and several commencement invitations. The lantern slide contains the image of a paragraph advertising the formation of the school.


  • 1854-1964

Language of Materials

Materials entirely in English.

Restrictions on Access

Unrestricted access.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

All requests subject to limitations noted in departmental policies on reproduction.

Biographical Note

The Atlanta Medical College was founded in 1854 by a group of physicians led by Dr. John G. Westmoreland. The first session began on May 1, 1855 in the recently constructed City Hall with Dr. Westmoreland serving as dean. Thirty-two men were graduated at the first commencement, held on September 1, 1855. The 1856 course of lectures was held in a newly constructed facility on what is now the location of Grady Hospital.

The school was private and proprietary, as were most medical schools of that time period. As such, the dean was required to raise funds for the school and act as treasurer; faculty approval was required for all expenditures. Any funds remaining at the end of the year were divided equally among the faculty. Profits were small and most years they were applied back to the school for specific projects.

Classes were suspended in August of 1861 and did not resume until 1865, after the close of the Civil War. The college building survived due to the quick thinking of Dr. D’Alvigny, a professor of the school who managed to convince the Union army that the building was in use as a hospital. On August 16, 1865, the faculty met to develop a plan to resume classes the following November. The city donated $5000.00 for the purpose of repairing the facility and replacing equipment that was lost or destroyed during the war. This donation and the final appropriation of the funds resulted in a controversy that led to the formation in 1878 of a rival institution, the Southern Medical College.

Standards in medical education rose steadily during the life of the school. The first graduates were required to attend two courses of lectures, complete a total of three years of study (including the two courses of lectures) under competent instructors, and submit a thesis on some medical subject. By 1879 the school was a member of the American Medical College Association and the term length was extended from sixteen to twenty weeks. A pharmacy degree program was begun in 1891 and, soon after, the college became associated with the Atlanta Dental College. In 1895 the course requirement was increased to three courses of six months each and students were expected to attend general clinics. Requirements appear to have remained constant until 1898 when the Atlanta Medical College merged with the Southern Medical College to form the Atlanta College of Physicians and Surgeons.

Fourteen years later, the Atlanta Medical College was created once again as a result of the union of the Atlanta College of Physicians and Surgeons and the Atlanta School of Medicine. In 1912 the Council on Medical Education had indicated that if the two schools merged they would immediately receive a Class A rating. Without such a merger, the chances of either school obtaining the rank were questionable. The charter for the new school was issued September 20, 1913 and Dr. W. S. Elkin was named dean. Soon after the merger, the American Medical Association began pressuring medical schools to become associated with universities in order to improve the quality of medical education nationwide. At the same time, Emory University was in the first stages of development and wanted to add medical education to its offerings. The Atlanta Medical College suggested that the university take over its assets and debts and Emory agreed. On June 28, 1915 the Atlanta Medical College became the Emory University School of Medicine.


3.35 linear ft. (8 boxes + 8 bound volumes + 17 oversize)


Contains administrative records, correspondence, financial records, memorabilia, photographs, and clippings related to the Atlanta Medical College.

Arrangement Note

Organized into 2 series: (1) Atlanta Medical College (1854-1898) and (2) Atlanta Medical College (1913-1915).



Related Materials in This Repository

Southern Medical College records, Atlanta College of Physicians and Surgeons records, Atlanta Dental College records, and the Emory School of Medicine Records.


Processed by Nancy Hall Watkins, 2002.

Atlanta Medical College records, 1854-1964
Historical Collections, Woodruff Health Sciences Center Library, Emory University
Date encoded: October 10, 2013
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Woodruff Health Sciences Library Historical Collections Repository

1462 Clifton Road NE
Atlanta Georgia 30322 United States