Michigan’s Medical History

The Regents of the University of Michigan approved creation of a Medical School in 1847 which opened its doors in 1850 to become the University’s first professional school.

Long before the landmark Flexner Report on Medical Education was published in 1910, the U-M Medical School has been a leader in cutting edge medical education, not to mention basic and clinical research, and patient care. The Center for the History of Medicine and its antecedent, the Historical Center for the Health Sciences, have actively participated in projects that foster recognition for and appreciation of Michigan’s medical leadership in these areas.

Highlighted here is an ongoing oral history project conducted by the Center for the History of Medicine as well as a timeline completed in 2000 to honor the Medical School’s sesquicentennial anniversary. Dr. Markel, director of the Center for the History of Medicine, was a consultant for creation of the exhibit commemorating evaluation of the 1964 Salk polio vaccine trials at the U-M School of Public Health.

Numerous books have been published about the University of Michigan Medical School, its faculty and graduates. A good reading list on the subject includes:

  • Horace W. Davenport, Not Just Any Medical School: The Science, Practice, and Teaching of Medicine at the University of Michigan, 1850–1941 (Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 1999) View the Digital edition
  • Horace W. Davenport, Doctor Dock: Teaching and Learning Medicine at the Turn of the Century (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1987)
  • Horace W. Davenport, University of Michigan Surgeons, 1850–1970: Who They Were and What They Did (Ann Arbor, MI: Historical Center for the Health Sciences, 1993)
  • Horace W. Davenport, Victor Vaughan: Statesman and Scientist (Ann Arbor, MI: Historical Center for the Health Sciences, 1996)