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School of Veterinary Medicine
Records, 1832 - 1991 (bulk 1877-1991)


10 Cubic ft.
Prepared by Kaiyi Chen and Theresa R. Snyder
February 1996

Access to collections is granted in accordance with the Protocols for the University Archives and Records Center.


Transferred to the Archives in August 1963, May 1989, April 1990, February 1994, and February 1996.



The records of the School of Veterinary Medicine have been organized into the following series:

  1. Historical Material, 1832-1987
  2. Administration, 1887-1991
  3. Other Organizations, 1944-1990
  4. Photographs, 1909-1988
  5. Films and Videotapes, 1973-1984
  6. Artifacts



One of the oldest of its kind in North America, the School of Veterinary Medicine of the University of Pennsylvania is the only veterinary school in the United States that was a direct outgrowth of the University's School of Medicine.  In 1807, Benjamin Rush, one of the three original professors of the medical school, proposed that instruction in veterinary medicine be given at the University of Pennsylvania.  It was not until 1882, however, that Joshua Bertram Lippincott, one of the University Trustees, donated $10,000 for the purpose of establishing veterinary school within the University.  The Board of Trustees appointed a special committee with Lippincott as Chairman to consider plans for inaugurating such a school.  In October 1884 the School of Veterinary Medicine was opened with Dr. Rush Shippen Huidekoper serving as Dean.

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Beginning a century-long tradition of support, the state of Pennsylvania appropriated $25,000 for the School in 1889. This was only the first step of many that have contributed to the rapid growth of the School.

In order to make way for the present medical laboratories, the School of Veterinary Medicine moved from 36th and Pine Street to 39th and Woodland Avenue in 1901.  In 1905, Dean Leonard Pearson presented plans for a combination of new veterinary school and hospital.  Generous contributions, a gift of $100,000 from Mrs. James J. Goodwin (daughter of J. Bertram Lippincott), a bequest of $50,000 from Mr. Joseph E. Gillingham, and more state appropriations totaling $380,000 from 1906 to 1911, allowed for the completion of a new building by 1913.  The school has since resided in this building.

The Faculty voted to admit women to the course in veterinary medicine in 1933 provided "that no concessions be made in regard to the work required."  Within two years, the school was offering courses for advanced work in veterinary pathology leading to master and doctoral degrees.  The school has been offering graduate courses in cooperation with the Graduate School of Medicine ever since.  A gift by the heirs of Effingham B. Morris of Bolton Farm in 1937 led to the establishment of an ambulatory clinic to aid the clinical instruction in veterinary medicine.

In 1945, the faculty reorganized the ambulatory clinic and established the Media Field Station, which served as the School's clinical center until 1952.  In 1947, a third floor was added to the north wing of the school building to provide quarters for pathology and microbiology.

The University acquired a tract of land at London Grove, Pennsylvania, 32 miles southwest of the University campus, for use by the Veterinary School in 1952.  Named New Bolton Center, it has been a major base for teaching, research and clinical services in veterinary medicine.

In more recent decades, the School of Veterinary Medicine, in cooperation with the faculty of the School of Medicine, further specialized the discipline and thus strengthened its status as one of the nation's leading veterinary schools.

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The records of the School of Veterinary Medicine document the history of one of the oldest veterinary schools in America from early nineteenth century up to the present.

The Historical Material series records the school in its formative stage.  It features minute books for the Board of Managers, 1889-1954, for the faculty, 1909-1963, and for alumni societies, 1901-1960.  This series also includes correspondence of the Deans of the School from 1906 to 1911 and information on Horace J. Smith, a Penn alumni and a stock farm owner who enthusiastically advocated the establishment of a veterinary department at the University of Pennsylvania.  There are hand-written notes made by the faculty in preparation for the writing of the history of veterinary medicine at the University and the development of veterinary medicine in the country in general.  Finally, a ledger book of the Veterinary Society of the University of Pennsylvania containing the Society's constitution, a charter member list, and minutes from 1889 to 1898 finish out the series.

The Administration series constitutes the bulk of the collection.  Included in it are a biographical data file of faculty members and prominent alumni, some of whom were nominated for awards on the occasion of the School's centennial in 1984; records of a historical symposium on veterinary development at Penn held in conduction with the celebration of the 250th anniversary of the University of Pennsylvania; records concerning the celebration of the School's seventy-fifth anniversary in 1959; and material of the Veterinary Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

Related to veterinary medicine but not directly to the School, the Other Organizations series includes material of the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges and a report of the Joint State Government Commission on veterinary medicine in 1953.  The Photographs series contains images of former school deans and faculty members as well as group pictures of various classes.  Worthy of special mention are two photos of historical value, one of the veterinary school in the late nineteenth century and the other the blacksmith shop of the University in the same period.  The Films and Videotapes series covers a wide range of subjects including the New Bolton Center, horse auction, horse rehabilitation, test tube calf, and animal hospital.  Most of the videotapes were done by TV or radio networks.

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