Bellevue Hospital Medical College: A Guide to the Records

Descriptive Summary

Bellevue Hospital Medical College
The records document the history of the Bellevue Hospital Medical College, from incorporation in 1861 to its merger with the University Medical College of New York University in 1898, and consist of photographs, annual announcements, financial records, student theses and certificates of moral character, faculty papers, class schedules, lecture tickets and more.
Record Group:
Offsite Storage

Historical/Biographical Note

Bellevue Hospital Medical College opened its doors in the spring of 1861, with the following physicians as the faculty: Stephen Smith, Frank H. Hamilton, James R. Wood, Alexander B. Mott, Lewis A. Sayre, Isaac E. Taylor, Fordyce Barker, George T. Elliot, Jr., Benjamin W. McCready, J.W. S. Gouley, Austin Flint, Austin Flint, Jr., and Robert O. Doremus.

The original building was on the grounds of Bellevue Hospital, but the school soon realized they needed a larger building, and in 1865-66, a larger building, also on the hospital grounds, was erected at 419-21 East 26th Street. In addition to serving as the home for the College, the facility was also used by the Bureau of Medical and Surgical Relief for the Out-door Poor.

During the Civil War, physicians from Bellevue Hospital Medical College, under the auspices of the United States Sanitary Commission, published several monographs for Army surgeons, such as Stephen Smith's piece on "Amputations." Faculty members also played significant roles on New York City 's Council of Hygiene and Public Health, whose landmark report on the sanitary condition of the city led to the establishment in 1866 of the New York City Department of Health.

The surgery department of the college was strong, and included prominent doctors such as Lewis Sayre, who was the first professor of orthopedic surgery in the country. In 1854 he performed the first successful resection of the hip joint in the United States. Frank Hamilton was an authority on fractures, and wrote the first complete and comprehensive treatise in English on the subject.

In the 1880's Andrew Carnegie donated a large sum of money to the college, and the Carnegie Laboratory, the first in the country established for teaching and investigation in bacteriology and pathology, opened for the 1884-85 school year.

In 1897, New York State Regents ranked the University Medical College (NYU) lowest of the 12 schools whose graduates they examined for license to practice in the state, leading the University to assume direct control over the College. In that same year, the Bellevue Hospital Medical College was partially destroyed by fire, leading NYU to suggest a merger of the two schools. Bellevue accepted, and the new University and Bellevue Hospital Medical College opened October 1, 1898. The merger included the transfer of all equipment and buildings, including the Carnegie Laboratory. Famous alumni of the Bellevue Hospital Medical College include Walter Reed, William Crawford Gorgas, Herman Biggs, and Joseph Goldberger, among others.

Scope and Content Note

The documents, photographs and other items in this collection come from different sources, and were accessioned into the Archives individually rather than as one discrete collection. Thus, this is a guide to a virtual collection of records, related to each other by their connection to the Bellevue Hospital Medical College. There are seven series in the collection. The subseries "Theses" is of interest, as are the "Certificates of study and moral character", some of which are accompanied by correspondence regarding the applicant.


These documents are arranged in the following series:
  • Academics
  • Buildings
  • Directories
  • Faculty
  • Financial
  • Legal
  • Students and Alumni
  • Student Theses

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation:
Identification of item, date (if known).  Bellevue Hospital Medical College Records, 1861-1898, box number, folder number. The Lillian and Clarence de la Chapelle Medical Archives, NYU Health Sciences Library