Reforming Medical Education

The University of Illinois College of Medicine, 1880-1920
Author: Winton U. Solberg
An extensive history of the founding and early days of the College of Medicine at the University of Illinois
Cloth – $39
Publication Date
Cloth: 04/20/2009
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About the Book

The University of Illinois College of Medicine has its origins in the 1882 opening of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Chicago. In 1897 the College of Physicians and Surgeons became affiliated with the University of Illinois and began a relationship that endured its fair share of trials, successes, and even a few bitter fights. In this fact-filled volume, Winton U. Solberg places the early history of the University of Illinois College of Medicine in a national and international context, tracing its origins, crises, and reforms through its first tumultuous decades.

This history details the efforts of various men and women who worked out the finances, governance, and policies that would balance the College of Medicine’s commitments to patient care, research, and medical education for the twentieth century. In particular, Solberg focuses on two individuals whose efforts were especially instrumental in establishing the University of Illinois College of Medicine. University President Edmund J. James had long been committed to the reform of medical education, and he exerted himself mightily to integrate the College of Medicine within the University. Although not directly affiliated with the University of Illinois, Abraham Flexner’s famous Flexner Report on medical education reform detailed the specific improvements that the University and state of Illinois would need to make to develop the College of Medicine into a major institution.

Solberg discusses the role of the College of Medicine and the city of Chicago in the historic transformation from the late nineteenth century, when Germany was the acknowledged world center of medicine and the germ theory of disease was not yet widely accepted, to 1920, by which time the United States had emerged as the leader in modern medical research and education. With meticulous scholarship and attention to detail, this volume chronicles the long and difficult struggle to achieve that goal.

About the Author

Winton U. Solberg (d. 2019) was professor emeritus of history at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His many publications include The University of Illinois, 1894-1904: The Shaping of the University and Redeem the Time: The Puritan Sabbath in Early America.

Also by this author

The Constitutional Convention and the Formation of the Union coverThe University of Illinois, 1894-1904 coverCreating the Big Ten coverEdmund J. James and the Making of the Modern University of Illinois, 1904-1920 cover


"This is a superb history recounted by a gifted historian. Well indexed and enhanced by a set of interesting photos, the book represents a sterling example of medical politics at both its worst and best. The book is highly readable and strongly recommended."--Journal of the History of Medicine


"Winton U. Solberg has written a lively and authoritative history of an important medical school during its formative years. It is well researched, well contextualized, and engaging. The book will be of interest to anyone interested in medical education or the University of Illinois."--Kenneth M. Ludmerer, author of Time to Heal: American Medical Education from the Turn of the Century to the Era of Managed Care