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The History of the Medical College of Georgia

The History of the Medical College of Georgia

Copyright Date: 1987
Pages: 320
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  • Book Info
    The History of the Medical College of Georgia
    Book Description:

    Phinizy Spalding traces the development of Georgia's oldest medical school from the initial plans of a small group of physicians to the five school complex found in Augusta in the late 1980s. Charting a course filled with great achievement and near-fatal adversity, Spalding shows how the life of the college has been intimately bound to the local community, state politics, and the national medical establishment. When the Medical Academy of Georgia opened its doors in 1828 to a class of seven students, the total number of degreed physicians in the state was fewer than one hundred. Spalding traces the history of the Academy through its early robust growth in the antebellum years; its slowed progress during the Civil War; its decline and hardships during the early half of the twentieth century; and finally its resurgence and a new era of optimism starting in the 1950s.

    eISBN: 978-0-8203-4222-1
    Subjects: Education, Health Sciences

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xiv)
    Phinizy Spalding

    • Chapter One Origins
      (pp. 3-19)

      The trustees for establishing the colony of Georgia were, from the start, determined to create a new and unique sort of province in America. In the first boatload of settlers in 1733 was found a wide variety of trades and occupations; the surgeon William Cox, for instance, was aboard the Anne with James Oglethorpe. Somehow a Dr. Lyons also showed up at Georgia’s founding. To the scandal of bailiff Peter Gordon, Lyons danced drunkenly with the Indians the first night after the weary settlers came ashore.¹ But Cox died of a fever in April—the first mortality among Oglethorpe’s group²—...

    • Chapter Two The Faculty
      (pp. 20-30)

      Coming from Savannah by steamboat in August 1833, Swedish traveler and scholar C. D. Arfwedson commented that of all the towns in the South, “none, with the exception of New Orleans, has a more agreeable exterior, and inspires the stranger at first with a stronger idea of comfort and wealth than Augusta.” He approved of the recent fires, which had required extensive new construction, but he was aware that the prosperity so apparent was owing mainly to an excellent location that brought to Augusta “its active and flourishing trade.” Arfwedson was impressed by the “immense” cotton warehouses and stores that...

    • Chapter Three MCG to the Death of Antony
      (pp. 31-40)

      As seen earlier, Joseph Eve spelled out some of the general problems besetting American medical education in the 1830s, including short sessions and courses, poor early preparation on the part of the student, and the “paucity of branches taught.” Eve ambitiously stated that lectures should “be continued through the whole year,” with but a one- or two-month vacation break. More variety should be required, and the course for “the Doctorate” should be “at least four years’ attendance.”¹

      In the faculty’s efforts to reform medical education it tried to do all within reason to improve conditions, but little or nothing could...

    • Chapter Four Maturity and Sectional Eminence
      (pp. 41-60)

      That the Medical College of Georgia survived the death of Milton Antony and prospered during the next two decades is a tribute to both Antony and the College. The number of graduates of the school increased from eighteen in 1841 to the high thirties by mid-decade and exceeded fifty for the first time in 1848. The 1850s saw the number settle near fifty medical degrees awarded each year, but in 1856 the graduates numbered over seventy—a figure not reached again until 1950.¹

      But quantity itself means little. More important than numbers is the fact that the College gained academic...

    • Chapter Five The Coming of the Civil War
      (pp. 61-74)

      The fabric that held the nation together, long under stress, began slowly to unravel during the winter of 1849–50. The Mexican War, which looked very successful when gauged by the amount of territory annexed to the United States, carried with it the seed for destruction of the Union. When California, the first fruit of the victory over Mexico, applied for admission into the Union late in 1849 as a free state, the nation was plunged into a crisis that led, ultimately, to secession. At issue in 1849–50 was the relationship of slavery to the nation’s territories and the...


    • Chapter Six The Civil War and Its Aftermath
      (pp. 77-90)

      The city of Augusta, a thriving urban center of roughly thirteen thousand people in 1860, was spared the ravages of war such as were visited upon Atlanta and Columbia. The town, however, was still mightily affected and, partly because it was located at the point where the Carolina and Georgia railroads convened, the depots were jammed with the curious who came to see the soldiers from other states as they moved to or from the Virginia front. To Joseph Jones, as no doubt to others as well, the swashbuckling Zouaves from far-off Louisiana looked for all the world like “french...

    • Chapter Seven Eugene Foster and the 1890s
      (pp. 91-104)

      The 1890s were a watershed decade in American history. Economically and culturally the United States had changed dramatically since the Civil War. Immigration patterns had altered radically too, with the shift from northern Europe to the southern and eastern areas of that continent bringing into the country literally millions of people who did not conform to the usual image of what an immigrant should be. Italian, Balkan, and Russian Catholics and Jews poured into the cities of the North speaking their non-Teutonic foreign tongues and worshiping their non-Protestant Creators. Oriental immigration in the West became, for the first time, a...

    • Chapter Eight The Storm Approaches
      (pp. 105-117)

      The new century seemed to start quietly enough. The pace of life was slow; it was a time when gentlemen “in white linen suits … strolled Augusta’s shaded boulevards. They walked slowly, their green-lined umbrellas held high against the summer sun, nodding and smiling to a dozen or so friends, acquaintances and passers-by.” Now and then “a horse-drawn fire engine would roar down the middle of Broad Street while startled pedestrians gawked and children squealed.”¹ The pace, in fact, was so slow that the second and third called meetings of the Medical College’s faculty failed to produce a quorum²—a...

    • Chapter Nine Flexner and Beyond
      (pp. 118-129)

      Students interested in entering the College’s 1908–1909 academic year might well have read the school’s Bulletin and concluded that all was well. No period was “so bright as at present. The Faculty has recently been re-organized and enlarged …, and the curriculum extended so that it now covers the whole range of medical teaching. The laboratory and clinical facilities have been greatly increased, the term lengthened to seven months and the course so graded that the instruction is full and thorough on every subject.” The quality of work, the curriculum, and the “opportunity” that the College offered in 1908...

    • Chapter Ten World War I and the Twenties
      (pp. 130-142)

      August 1915 found Doughty reporting to his faculty that the College had “reached such a stage in its development” that it could now best be run by committees. He recommended that ten such subdivisions of the professors be set up. The suggestion met with the approval of the faculty, was made operational, and proved to be a successful innovation.¹ Later it was decided that the dean was to be ex officio on all of the committees—a move that made it possible for him to exercise strategic control in regulating the school if he chose to do so. At about...

    • [Illustrations]
      (pp. None)

    • Chapter Eleven The Early Depression Years
      (pp. 145-157)

      Georgia’s economic indicators, already well below the national average, skidded dramatically after Wall Street’s Great Crash. There simply was not enough state money to go around. Following the collapse of the price of cotton and cottonseed after World War I and the disastrous attack of the boll weevil, the Crash that hit the state in 1929 forced many of Georgia’s farmers to or below the subsistence level. Between 1929 and 1932, farm prices, which were already dangerously low, fell 60 percent. Gross farm income per person sagged from $206 to $83.¹ Georgia was still a rural state, and by 1930...

    • Chapter 12 Survival
      (pp. 158-177)

      The Augusta political delegation, headed by the energetic and ambitious Roy V. Harris, sometime friend and associate of Governor Eugene Talmadge, went into action to see that the fatal vote to eliminate MCG was reversed. Petitions and letters poured into Hughes Spalding’s office, prompting him to comment dryly that he had not realized how outstanding the school was—“until it was discontinued.” He heard from Rotary clubs, chambers of commerce, Lions, Elks, Civitans, Kiwanis, and even received some chain letters—all of which was “certainly helping the Post Office Department.” As for him, such effusions had no impact, “but I...

    • Chapter 13 The Era of World War II
      (pp. 178-191)

      Change in the personnel and structure of the Medical College of Georgia was everywhere apparent, even before the decade of the 1940s was reached. In 1937 new departments were added, including neuropsychiatry under Hervey Cleckley, tuberculosis under Lucius Todd, and anesthesiology with Perry Volpitto. With Torpin in obstetrics, Henry M. Michel in orthopedics, Burpee in pediatrics, Frank Slaughter in neurosurgery, and Robert B. Greenblatt in endocrinology and gynecology, the school seemed ready to enter a period distinguished by a faculty of good teachers, who were also researchers of some significance.¹ At the same time, just as it seemed the College...

    • Chapter 14 Edgar Pund and the 1950s
      (pp. 192-202)

      Pathology’s Edgar Pund succeeded Kelly as the second president of MCG in July 1953. That fall an official celebration and investiture was held at the old Medical College with Chancellor and Mrs. Harmon Caldwell as special guests. The talk was of the future, what with a new president and a new hospital as well, and the mood was both ebullient and cordial. The modest Pund was praised almost as though he was retiring from instead of starting out on his presidency and, consistent with his feelings when he handed over the reins of authority five years later, he may have...

    • Chapter 15 Toward the Present
      (pp. 203-213)

      When Pund stepped down from the presidency in 1958 his place was taken by the youthful and energetic Harry O’Rear who had been the old president’s right-hand man. First appointed as acting president, his temporary status was removed in 1960. O’Rear went on to lead the College until succeeded by William H. Moretz.

      O’Rear watched over a program that emphasized dramatic new expansion in several fields, development of the faculty, and broadening of the curriculum to meet the demands dictated by the decision to create a medical center complex. He was fortunate in that he found the state of Georgia...

    • Chapter 16 Only Yesterday
      (pp. 214-226)

      The key to understanding the history of the Medical College of Georgia in the 1970s and early 1980s lies in realizing that the school has been absorbed with consolidating its earlier gains and re-establishing its old identity. MCG has been deeply concerned with the problem of emphasis: should the main thrust be toward education, research, or patient services—or a happy blending of the three? Should the school continue to underscore its commitment to the state of Georgia and see that it is appropriately and fairly peopled with physicians, dentists, and other health care personnel, or should it reach out...

  7. Notes
    (pp. 227-264)
  8. Bibliographical Note
    (pp. 265-276)
  9. Index
    (pp. 277-290)