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Geneva Medical College collection

Identifier: SC-74

Scope and Contents

This collection is comprised of materials that give an insight into the administration of the Geneva Medical College mostly during its genesis and early years. The collection contains a large number of circulars and annual catalogues that list the graduates, the faculty and staff, the curators, and the Trustees along with other information in regard to the education and the tuition of the Geneva Medical College. There is not a circular from every year of the Geneva Medical College but the early years from 1834 to 1851 are very well represented. This same period in the history of Geneva College is represented well by the correspondence and internal documents retained in this collection, many of which demonstrate the struggles of establishing a separate medical college at Geneva College. Many of these documents also demonstrate a longstanding divide between the Board of Trustees and the Medical Faculty in how the Geneva Medical College should be administrated. The Geneva Medical College collection also contains documents from as early as 1829 to as late as 1996 that summarize the tumultuous early years and founding of the Geneva Medical College from an outside or retrospective view.


  • Creation: 1827-1996
  • Creation: Majority of material found in 1834-1845


Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on accessing material in this collection.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright restrictions may apply. Unpublished manuscripits are protected by copyright. Permission to publish, quote or reproduce must be secured from the repository and the copyright holder.

Historical Note

The origins of the Geneva Medical College can be traced to 1826 when Dr. Hosack created the Rutgers Medical College in New York City sponsored by Rutgers University in New Jersey. This move was opposed by the New York State legislature which questioned whether students studying in New York could receive a diploma from a university located outside the state. Dr. Hosack and the Rutgers Medical College were brought to trial over that questions and it was ultimately put before the New York Supreme Court which said they could not. This forced Dr. Hosack to look for a New York based university to sponsor his medical college in New York City and turned to Geneva College (now called Hobart College of Hobart and William Smith Colleges).

Dr. Hosack and the Rutgers Medical College soon shifted their allegiance from Rutgers University to Geneva College leading to the Rutgers Medical Faculty of Geneva College. The Board of Trustees decided to open two branches of the medical college under their authority, reopening to medical college in New York City and opening another in Geneva. Once again, the medical college was brought to trial, this time questioning the authority of the Board of Trustees of Geneva College to appoint faculty outside of Geneva. Again, the court ruled unfavorably and ties between the Rutgers Medical College were cut in 1830.

In 1834 the Board of Trustees of Geneva College voted to create their own medical college as a branch of Geneva College under the direction of Dr. Thomas Spencer and Dr. John Morgan which opened in 1835. Edward Cutbush would become the first dean of the Medical Faculty while Thomas Spencer became the chair of the medical faculty. The Geneva Medical College settled into a strange space at Geneva College where it was independent from the rest of Geneva College in many ways but still remained under the authority of the Board of Trustees. This led to internal friction at times between the Board of Trustees and the Medical Faculty (mostly represented by Thomas Spencer) often in regard to finances and authority.

The Geneva Medical College hosted one of the most notable alumni of Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Elizabeth Blackwell. She was the first women to receieve a medical degree in the United States when she graduated from the Geneva Medical College in 1849.

Due to slowly declining numbers, the Geneva Medical College was transferred to Syracuse University in 1871. Since Syracuse had a larger population, two already established hospitals providing more opportunities for students, and was better connected by railway to other large cities, Syracuse offered a more advantageous location for the medical college.


0.42 Linear Feet (1 box)

Language of Materials



This collection contains documents relating to the genesis and the early years of the Geneva Medical College and how it became a part of Hobart College (then called Geneva College). Materials include circulars and annual catalogues listing students and faculty of the Geneva Medical College along with documents that describe the hardships of the medical college, notably the difficult relationship between the Board of Trustees and the Medical Faculty.


This collection is arranged in the following series:

  1. External Documents
  2. Articles Written About the Geneva Medical College
  3. Correspondence
  4. Internal Documents

Physical Location

Box 1: Archives Storage / Range 23A / Section 1; Oversize files: Archives Storage / Flat File Drawer 7


There is no known provenance for this collection.

Geneva Medical College collection: A Finding Aid
Thomas Perich; Tricia McEldowney, Archivist
September 2021
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Hobart and William Smith Colleges Archives and Special Collections Repository

Warren Hunting Smith Library
Hobart and William Smith Colleges
Geneva New York 14456 U.S.A. US (United States)