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Stanford University School of Medicine and the Predecessor Schools: An Historical Perspective
Part IV: Cooper Medical college 1883-1912

Chapter 24. Founding of Cooper Medical College 1882

Founding of Cooper Medical College 1882

Having discussed curricular and other faculty affairs of the Medical College of the Pacific at some length, we must now return to the practical matter of facilities.

University College Building

Soon after the Faculty of the Medical Department of the University of the Pacific revived the Cooper School in 1870, they rented the College Building on Geary and Stockton Streets in downtown San Francisco from University (City) College - to which for convenience we will hereafter refer as "University College." As we have noted, the location of the College Building, and the liaison between the Medical School and University College, were convenient and congenial, and led in 1872 to establishment of the Medical College of the Pacific. It was not long, however, before problems related to facilities began to intrude.

The first of these was of such a petty nature that it hardly deserves mention except as it is evidence of the continuing hostility of Dean Cole of the Toland School. It appears that the San Francisco Medical Society thought it proper to change its place of meeting, and a committee charged with the business sought vainly for a long time to obtain a proper room. At length, on 21 March 1873, the committee applied to the Faculty of the Medical College of the Pacific for permission to use the lecture room in the College Building for the regular meetings of the Society. The Faculty granted permission for use of the room at a rent of ten dollars per month, provided that there should be no objection by Society members from the Toland School. The subject was before the Society for two or three meetings at which some of these gentlemen were present and they voiced no opposition, whereupon the arrangement for using the lecture room was approved.[1]

When Dean Cole assumed the editorship of the Western Lancet in 1873, he vigorously attacked the decision of the San Francisco Medical Society to rent a meeting room at the Medical College of the Pacific:[2]

The San Francisco Medical Society has committed a grave blunder in removing its place of meeting to the lecture-room of one of the rival medical colleges in this city - the Medical College of the Pacific.. . . In allowing itself to be tagged on to the institution in question, the San Francisco Medical Society has shown a lamentable disposition to undo the work of years, and to descend to that "filthy pool" of factious squabbledom for which this city has so long been accorded the championship. We will not stop to inquire into the motives that prompted the proffer of this room. In itself the matter is insignificant enough - simply the straw at which a waning cause will catch. "The University of California knows no rival," was the remark of Professor Gilman in his recent public address. Its medical department will soon know none; the doom of any such is either to give up the ghost honorably, or to sink into a "Diploma -Shop "

In a subsequent issue of the Lancet, Dean Cole continued his attack on the Medical College of the Pacific:[3]

With no desire to foster discord between the medical practitioners of this city, we could not refrain from disapproving of the very singular action of the (San Francisco Medical Society) in compromising the University into a recognition of its pigmy rival whose unreasonable ambition for a collegiate recognition has already been the source of great misfortune to the reputation of medical graduates on this coast; and, if the advantage of numbers enables the advocates of this injustice to perpetuate the wrong, then the only alternative that self-respect leaves to the protesting minority is to forego the gratification of joining in these hitherto very agreeable reunions, and patiently wait until a healthier sentiment instigates a change; or the demise of the so-called "College of the Pacific" relieves the Medical Society from the burden so injudiciously assumed.

To which Henry Gibbons, a firm believer that "a soft answer turneth away wrath," replied:[4]

Not a word was said in opposition to (renting the lecture room at the Medical Department of the Pacific) at any of the meetings of the Society. After all this, the Lancet, both of whose editors are members of the Society, and one word from either of whom would have prevented the removal to the College building, publicly abuses the College for offering the room and the Society for accepting it. What the College has to gain by allowing the Society to occupy its hall at a nominal rent, does not appear. The Faculty have endeavored to deal honorably and courteously with their brethren of the other school, and to promote the social and professional relations which are called into play by their assembling on common ground in the Medical Society. The same feeling, we have no doubt, has actuated the University professors in the main, and we do not believe that they sympathize with the ungenerous and unwarranted assault. In fact, we do not attribute to the editors of the Lancet the bitter animus which their attack would imply. Not having occupied the editorial seat long enough to warm it, topics were scarce and something had to be written.

As the years pass, we shall regrettably find it necessary from time to time to record other eruptions of Mount Cole.

A much more substantial problem arose when curricular enhancement at Medical College of the Pacific led to the need for additional space. This need was ingeniously met in mid 1874 by putting a new roof on the College Building, at the same time raising its height and substantially enlarging the second floor. The Faculty requested the Board of Trustees of the College to finance the renovation but, as far as we can determine, the Faculty paid the bill and thereby acquired some equity in the College building - an investment which later proved of benefit to the Faculty.

At about the same time in 1874, University College began to experience financial difficulties. These progressed so that, in 1875, the rapidly increasing value of real estate in the business district of San Francisco, and the limited possibilities for future expansion at the site on Geary and Stockton Streets, prompted the Trustees to accept an offer of $ 90,000 for their downtown property (which included the College Building and the Chapel). With the proceeds of this sale, the Trustees paid off an outstanding debt of $ 30,000. They then took $ 35,000 of the balance to purchase a lot with a frontage of 400 feet at 129 Haight Street, two miles west of the downtown location.

The purchasers of the downtown property did not want the College Building and the Chapel, and informed the Trustees that they could remain in possession of the buildings if they would move them to Haight Street or other location with no expense to the new owners.

On 27 May 1875, J. D. Thornton, Esq., Secretary of the Board of Trustees of University College, was invited to attend a meeting of the Medical Faculty to inform them of the financial status of University College. He confirmed to the Faculty that the downtown property had been sold and that possession would be transferred to the new owner in December 1875. Mr. Thornton then offered two options to the Faculty. They could move the College Building to the lot on Haight Street at their own expense. Or, if they did not wish to do so, the Trustees were ready to refund the amount the Faculty had previously paid for improvements on the building, and would not claim past rent in view of their prior agreement absolving the Faculty from paying rent for two years.

At a Faculty Meeting on 23 September 1875, the need to either move the College Building to Haight Street or find other facilities for the Medical School, was discussed. A committee composed of Professors Barkan, Bentley and Gibbons, Sr., was appointed to determine the best course of action for the School. In addition, Dr. Gibbons, Sr., was requested to ascertain from the new owners whether the College Building could remain in its present location for another year.

As the deadline approached for transferring the downtown property to the new owners, there was growing apprehension among the Faculty for the welfare of the School. Feeling the need for the leadership of Dr. Lane during this critical period, they instructed the Dean to write to him urging his return from Europe in time to be present at the beginning of the next Session in June. 1876. Dr. Lane could not accede to this request, but promised to return in time to attend the Commencement in November and deliver the Valedictory Address.

During late 1875 and early 1876, the Faculty continued their efforts to locate alternate facilities for the School. In 1872 the San Francisco City and County Hospital had been moved some distance from its original location across from Toland Medical School to a new site on Potrero Street. Since proximity to the County Hospital would be a definite asset, a committee was appointed to search for a lot near the Hospital to which the College Building could be moved. None suitable could be found.

When the Faculty met on 28 December 1875, Professor Gibbons, Sr., announced that he had arranged with the new owners of the downtown property to grant the Faculty a lease of the ground for the next two or three months provided the Faculty agreed to remove the College Building from the premises on two or three weeks' notice. At the same meeting the Faculty finally decided that they now had no option other than to move with the College Building to Haight Street. Accordingly, Professors Gibbons, Sr., Ellinwood and Douglass were appointed as a Special Committee to make final financial and other arrangements with the Board of Trustees for the move.

On 20 January 1876, Professor Gibbons, Sr., reported to the Faculty that negotiations of the Special Committee with the Trustees had resulted in the following generous agreement:

The Board of Trustees of University College agreed to move the College Building, when desired to do so by the Faculty, from the downtown site to the grounds on Haight Street, and to put it in good condition, all free of expense to the Faculty.

The Trustees also agreed to allow the Faculty to occupy the relocated College Building free of rent for two years with the understanding that the Trustees would retain ownership of the Building, and that all outstanding financial obligations of University College to the Faculty would be canceled.

The decision to move the College Building to Haight Street having been made, the Faculty began planning the Session for 1876. However, they remained in suspense as to the timing of the transfer to Haight Street. On 2 March 1876 they were abruptly informed that the Building must be removed from the downtown site within a few days.

As agreed, the Trustees of University College took full responsibility for the moving project which included the transport of both the College Building and the Chapel over a distance of two miles up hill to the lot on Haight Street. Although steam power may have been used, the probabilities are that the moving was done by horses and that the College Building, which was 128 feet long, had to be cut in two at the downtown site and the parts rejoined at the new location. Fortunately the move was accomplished expeditiously so that by 4 May 1876 the Faculty of the Medical College of the Pacific had resumed operations in the College Building now relocated at 129 Haight Street, where they were to remain for the next six years.[5]

The Annual Announcement for the Session of 1877 carried the following information:

The College Building is conveniently and centrally situated on Haight Street, near Octavia Street, at which place the Dispensary Clinics are also held. Cars running within a short distance of the City and County Hospital pass within a block every few minutes. Thus the student will find in convenient proximity all the varied appliances for theoretical and practical instruction.

The Haight Street Years, 1876 to 1882

It was obvious to the Faculty of the Medical College well before the move to Haight Street in 1876 that their parent University had serious financial problems. This placed both the facilities and the degree-granting procedure of the Medical College in jeopardy. The Faculty therefore took various steps to strengthen their organization and arrange for alternative facilities.

Governance. This is an appropriate juncture to review the history of the organization of the Faculty. The original Constitution and Bylaws of the Medical Department of the University of the Pacific, adopted in 1858, were carried over as the governance of the Medical College of the Pacific when it was established in 1872. The first major move to revise these original statutes was taken by the Faculty on 9 January 1875 when a Rules Committee was charged with drafting a new set of Bylaws to replace or supplement those adopted in 1858. The following is a summary of the key elements of new Bylaws as recommended by the Rules Committee and adopted by the Faculty on 4 March 1875:[6]

Bylaws of Medical College of the Pacific

Adopted 4 March 1875

1. Constitution of Faculty: The Faculty of the Medical College of the Pacific shall consist of emeritus and active professors. The former shall be entitled to all the privileges of members, at the meetings, except that of voting.

2. Nomination of Professors. The nomination of professors in case of vacancies or when new professorships may be created shall take place at any regular meeting at which all the active professors are present, or are represented by proxy; and a unanimous vote of such professors shall be necessary for nomination.

3. Election of Officers. At the first regular meeting in each year the Faculty shall elect from the active members, a President, a Vice President and a Dean, who shall hold office during the year.

4. Meetings. The Faculty shall hold regular meetings on the first Thursday of each month, and special meetings at such times as may become necessary; due notice, by circular, of each meeting, being sent to each member by the Dean.

5. Time and Place of Meetings. The regular meetings shall be held at the College, and shall commence at 8 o'clock P. M.. Special meetings shall be held at the call of the Dean, at such hours and places as circumstances may render necessary.

6. Fines for Tardiness and Absence. As punctual attendance is essential to the welfare of the College, and is necessary to prevent loss of time to the professors, by waiting, a fine of fifty cents for tardiness and of one dollar for absence from the meetings will be exacted from the active professors, except in case of sickness or absence from the city..

7. Roll Call and Quorum The Roll shall be called by the Dean not more than fifteen minutes past 8 o'clock, and those not answering to their names shall be considered tardy. Five active professors shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of all business except balloting for candidates, when the full number must be present or be represented by proxy.

8. To Provide Substitutes for Lecturers and Prevent Detention of Class.. In all cases in which a professor finds it impossible to fill his lecture hour, he shall notify the Dean in sufficient time to enable him to provide a substitute, or if this be impossible, he shall notify the class, that the members thereof may not be detained. As further precaution to prevent unnecessary detention of the class, it will be understood that if any professor is not present within twenty (20) minutes of his appointed hour, he will not lecture.

9. Nominations of Applicants for the Degree. If any applicant for the degree shall make a total failure, in examination, with any one professor, or shall receive two negative votes, he shall not be recommended to the Trustees, but shall be permitted either to withdraw his application or to subject himself to a second examination.

10. Nominations for the Degree. No Applicant for the degree shall be recommended to the Board of Trustees, unless he has attended at least one course of Lectures in this College, and submitted himself to examination.

11. Requirements for ad eundem Degree. Every applicant for the ad eundem degree shall be required to matriculate; to pay a fee of

$ 50; to furnish satisfactory evidence of moral and professional character; and to submit to an examination in the practical branches: Medicine, Surgery and Obstetrics.

12. Amendments to or Suspension of Bylaws.. These rules may be amended, or additions may be made thereto, by vote of six of the active professors, at any regular meeting, notice having been given of the proposed change at a previous regular meeting, or they may be suspended, by unanimous vote, at any regular or special meeting.

The End of the Ad Eundem Degree

Article 11 of the above Bylaws of 1875 contains the first reference to the ad eundem degree to appear among the articles of governance of the Medical Departments of the University of the Pacific and the Medical College of the Pacific. The first reference to the ad eundem degree to appear in the "Requirements for Graduation" in the Annual Announcements of these institutions occurred in the Announcement for 1877 and read as follows:

Graduates from other Medical Colleges in good standing, desiring to attend lectures, are required to matriculate only. Those desiring the ad eundem degree are required, in addition, to present satisfactory testimonials of character and professional standing, to submit to examination in the practical branches, and to pay a fee of fifty dollars.

In fact, neither the Medical Department of the University of the Pacific nor the Medical College of the Pacific ever granted an ad eundem degree to any candidate that did not already hold an M. D. degree from another medical school. The record shows that the ad eundem degree was awarded to five candidates in 1870, and to one each in 1871, 1872, 1873 and 1875. All these candidates already held an M. D. degree from another school. No ad eundem degrees were approved after 1875.

In 1884 the Faculty of Cooper Medical College voted to amend the Bylaws of the College to state specifically that "the College will not hereafter recommend any applicant for the ad eundem degree." This amendment finally put a belated end to the outmoded option of the M. D. ad eundem in the Cooper Schools.[7]

Returning to the general subject of governance, we have pointed out that the original Constitution and Bylaws adopted by the Medical Department of the University of the Pacific in 1858 were largely superseded by the Bylaws adopted by the Medical College of the Pacific in 1875. With respect to Officers of the Faculty, Elias Cooper was the first President and served during his lifetime. When the School was revived in 1870, Professor Bowie was elected as the second President and served until an election was held on 19 April 1875 in accordance with the newly enacted Bylaws of 1875. In that election, the following officers were chosen to serve for one year (or until replaced):

  • President: Professor J. H. Wythe
  • Vice-President: Professor C. N. Ellinwood
  • Dean: Professor H. Gibbons, Jr.

Keep in mind that Professor Lane was still in Europe when this election was held. Also note that Professor Ellinwood, who had by this time become Surgeon to the United States Marine Hospital in San Francisco, was assuming an increasingly important role in the governance of the School.

The following significant amendment to the Bylaws of 1875 was adopted by the Faculty on 4 January 1877:

An Executive Committee of the Faculty, consisting of three Professors, shall be appointed to attend to the general affairs of the College and report action from time to time to the Faculty.

The following were elected on 1 February 1877 to serve as the first Executive Committee of the Faculty:

  • Professor L. C. Lane, Chairman
  • Professor C. N. Ellinwood
  • Professor H. Gibbons, Jr.

By this significant delegation of responsibility, the Faculty recognized Dr. Lane, who had returned from Europe in September 1876, as leader of the School and provided a mechanism whereby he could influence its course. This he proceeded to do, as we shall see.

Search for Facilities

Not until December 1877 did the Medical Faculty show an interest in seeking alternative facilities to the College Building. A committee consisting of Professors Lane, Ellinwood and Gibbons, Sr., was appointed "to consider and report at some future day upon the advisability of preparing plans and devising means for a college building." We can assume that the matter was of low priority at the time for no report was ever submitted.

When a rumor circulated in April 1879 that City College's financial situation was worsening, and that the Trustees might be forced to sell the Haight Street property, the Medical Faculty invited N. G. Kittle, Esq., Treasurer of the College, to a meeting. He advised the Faculty that the property would probably have to be sold eventually, but assured them that there would be no interference with the 1879 course of Lectures.

In December 1880 a rising level of concern for the survival of City College and the future availability of the College Building led to the dispatch of Professors Lane, Wythe and Dean Gibbons, Jr., as a delegation to the Trustees to learn from them on what terms the College Building could be purchased or rented on a long term basis. Meanwhile, Professor Ellinwood made the alternate proposal that each Professor contribute $ 1000 to be devoted to the purchase of other property and the erection of a building. When Dr. Lane et al returned from their visit to the Trustees, Dr. Lane advised against purchasing the College Building or levying an assessment for the purchase of property elsewhere. As a result, no action was taken.

There the matter stood until September 1881 when a lengthy Faculty discussion reaffirmed the decision not to purchase the College Building and agreed instead to lease it from year to year as long as possible. That decision seemed to leave the Medical School in a precarious position with respect to facilities since the longevity of University College was decidedly uncertain.

As Chairman of the Executive Committee, Dr. Lane had been influential in postponing plans for finding or constructing a permanent medical school building. His reason for advising delay was strictly private. Since his return from the European tour in 1876 his surgical practice and real estate investments had flourished, while his family responsibilities and personal needs remained modest. As his fortune grew so did his resolve to devote his accumulating wealth to some worthy purpose.

Now he decided to act. His plan was bold and visionary. Unknown to the Faculty at large, he would build a medical center second to none in the West for a reorganized school to be known as Cooper Medical College, and dedicated to the memory of his Uncle Elias.

Cooper Medical College


By the spring of 1881 Dr. Lane had already engaged the firm of Wright and Sanders, San Francisco Architects, to prepare plans and specifications for a brick and stone building to be located on the corner of Sacramento and Webster Streets. At the end of the summer bids had been received from five contractors. J. S. Burpee of Oakland submitted the lowest bid and on 3 October 1881 signed a contract to complete the building in 10 months. The estimated cost of construction was $ 80,000 and the value of the land was $ 20,000, bringing the overall value of the property to $100, 000.[8]

Dr. Lane insisted that the purpose of the building not be revealed, probably to avoid public protest over the construction of a huge five-story medical school and clinic on the high ground of the Western Addition, the most fashionable and thriving residential quarter of the city. In December of 1881 a prying reporter for one of the San Francisco newspapers tried unsuccessfully to obtain information from the contractor and architects regarding the nature of the looming structure, but was unsuccessful and vented his frustration in an article headed simply "A Mysterious Building."[9]

The Faculty were also unaware of the nature of the building as it neared completion in the fall of 1882. As late as October 6th the Professors were still planning to hold the November Commencement Exercises of the Medical College of the Pacific in Calvary Church. It was not until about this time that Dr. Lane finally disclosed to the Faculty that the "mysterious building" on the corner of Sacramento and Webster was a new medical school that they would be invited to join.[10][11]

The Cooper Medical College Building, with eighty feet of frontage on each of Sacramento and Webster Streets, was a magnificent structure. It is interesting to note that Its sheer red-brick walls, lofty gabled roof-line and slender spires were quite similar to those of the Rush Medical College building constructed in 1875.[12]

The interior of Cooper Medical College was carefully planned to provide facilities for both medical education and an ambulatory clinic:[13]

In the basement were macerating, furnace and store-rooms. The first floor was devoted mainly to clinical purposes. Here were rooms for general and special clinics, the drug store, waiting rooms for men and women, etc.

The second floor contained a large lecture room, sixty-six by forty feet, and two stories high, and seating six hundred persons; also a class room, thirty by thirty feet, accommodating about two hundred students; and the professors' room. On the third floor were found the private laboratory and the chemical lecture room, with seats for two hundred students.

The fourth floor contained the reading room, library and magazine rooms, together with large rooms for the anatomical and pathological museums. On the fifth floor were found the microscopic room, the students' laboratory and the dissecting room. The latter was fifty by thirty feet in dimensions; lighted by two large skylights; and supplied with hot and cold water, and, in fact, with every modern convenience for the thorough study of practical anatomy. Few, if any, medical colleges in the nation could offer better facilities than now available to the faculty and students of the Cooper school.


Dr. Lane orchestrated a remarkably smooth transition of the Medical College of the Pacific to the Cooper Medical College. In achieving the expeditious and orderly conversion of one school to another, he had the invaluable assistance of Dr. Edward R. Taylor, a personal friend and trusted counselor.

Edward Robson Taylor, M. D. (1838-1923) was both a physician and attorney. Born in Springfield, Illinois, he grew up in Missouri, and came to California in 1862. Reserved and scholarly by nature, he was attracted to medicine and graduated from Toland Medical School in 1865. This was at an early period in the history of that school when Drs. Lane and Henry Gibbons, Sr., were among the professors.

Dr. Taylor began medical practice in Sacramento where he was exposed to affairs of state and soon developed an interest in the study of law. In order to pursue legal studies he took the position of private secretary to Governor Henry Huntley Haight during his tenure as chief magistrate of the State from 1867 to 1871, and at the same time read law under the Governor's tutelage. He was an apt pupil and was admitted to the California bar in 1872. In that same year he moved to San Francisco where he practiced law as a partner of ex-Governor Haight who was, incidentally, a member of the Board of Trustees of University (City) College, serving as President of its Board from 1877 to 1879.

While in residence in Sacramento, Dr. Taylor married Agnes Stanford, daughter of Josiah Stanford of that city, and niece of ex-governor Leland Stanford. During this period he maintained his commitment to medicine as is indicated by his entering the competition for the AMA prize essay in 1871. His scholarly paper on "The Chemical Constitution of the Bile" won top honors, and other of his scientific medical papers are also competent works.

After his move to San Francisco Dr. Taylor was active in the affairs of the San Francisco and State Medical Societies, contributing significantly to the debate over the reform of medical education and the State licensure of physicians. Because of his combined medical and legal qualifications he was in demand as a consultant on medicolegal, ethical and organizational issues. In view of his specialized knowledge, integrity and wise judgment, Dr. Lane could not have chosen a more able and respected advisor to aid him in the launching of a new medical school, and in the drafting of its charter. We shall have occasion later to refer to his other services to the institution.

Dr. Taylor was a quiet, studious man whose long career as doctor, lawyer, educator, orator, writer, poet and public servant also included such noteworthy assignments as Dean of the Hastings College of Law in San Francisco for twenty years, and a hectic term as Mayor of the city. It was the capacity of Levi Cooper Lane to align such men of character and ability with his school that assured its success.[14]

First Meeting of Cooper Medical College Association

On 14 October 1882, with the expert guidance of Dr. Taylor, Dr. Lane took the first formal step in the organization of Cooper Medical College. He invited four loyal colleagues to join with him in forming the Association of Cooper Medical College to draft Articles of Incorporation and register them with the State of California. The following are the Minutes of the first meeting of the Association:[15]

By invitation of Dr. L. C. Lane the following named gentlemen met at his residence on the evening of 14 October 1882: viz.,

  • Dr. W. A. Douglass, Professor of Clinical Surgery
  • Dr. Henry Gibbons Jr., Professor of Obstetrics
  • Dr. R. H. Plummer, Professor of Anatomy
  • Dr. E. R. Taylor, Attorney at Law

At the suggestion of Dr. Taylor, Dr. Lane called the meeting to order, and Dr. Henry Gibbons, Jr., acted as Secretary.

Dr. Lane then announced that he had called the gentlemen above-named together to deliberate upon the formation of an Association preparatory to the incorporation of a new college to be called "Cooper Medical College." He had given much thought for some years to the subject of Medical Colleges; had contemplated for years the erection of a college building; and had finally caused to be constructed the building on the N. E. corner of Webster and Sacramento Streets, which he proposed to donate for purposes of medical education and to be used forever for such purposes solely.

Dr. E. R. Taylor then moved the following resolution:

Resolved that we, here present, viz., L. C. Lane, W. A. Douglass, Henry Gibbons, Jr., R. H. Plummer and E. R. Taylor do now organize ourselves into an Association under the name of Cooper Medical College, for the purposes of scientific and medical improvement and medical instruction with the view to the graduation of students of the science of medicine; and for the further purpose of acquiring all real and personal property that may be necessary to effectuate the object of the Association.

The motion was seconded by Dr. R. H. Plummer and carried unanimously.

Dr. Taylor also presented the following motions which were unanimously carried:

1. That the officers of this Association shall be a president and a secretary.

2. That Dr. L. C. Lane shall be its president and Dr. Henry Gibbons, Jr., its secretary.

3. That for the present the membership shall be confined to those present.

4. That the Association shall convene at the call of the president.

5. That the place of meeting, for the present, shall be at the residence of Dr. L. C. Lane, on the N. W. corner of Buchanan and Clay Streets, San Francisco.

The Association then adjourned to the same hour and place one week from date.

Signed: Henry Gibbons, Jr., Secretary.

Second Meeting of Cooper Medical College Association

On 21 October 1882, the Association formed at the previous meeting for the purpose of incorporating Cooper Medical College was convened at the residence of Dr. Lane. All five members of the Association being present:

On motion of Dr. E. R. Taylor, it was unanimously resolved to incorporate under the laws of the State of California with the corporate name of Cooper Medical College, for the following purposes: the cultivation and advancement of medicine and surgery, and of the sciences cognate thereto; the employment of and the cooperation with such competent persons as will give instruction in medicine and surgery and in the sciences cognate thereto; the graduation of students who have received such instruction and the issuance to such students, under the seal of the corporation, of diplomas evidencing such graduation; the acquiring and holding of all such real and personal property as may be necessary to effectuate the objects of the corporation.

An election was then held to choose five Directors of the proposed Corporation, whereupon the five members of the Association there present unanimously elected themselves as Directors, and as the Board of Directors. On motion of Dr. Taylor, the Directors authorized themselves on behalf of the Association to prepare Articles of Incorporation and cause them to be filed in the proper offices of the State of California.

The above preliminary legal maneuvers having been expeditiously executed under the proficient direction of Dr. Taylor, the carefully drawn Certificate and Articles of Incorporation of Cooper Medical College were submitted to the State and formally approved on 23 October 1882. With this action and on this memorable date the Cooper Medical College was duly incorporated.[16]

First Meeting, Board of Directors of Cooper Medical College

On 2 November 1882, at the home of Dr. Lane, the Board of Directors met for the first time and elected Dr. Lane as President of the Board and Dr. Gibbons, Jr., as Secretary. The Board of Directors then appointed the entire currently existing Faculty of the Medical College of the Pacific as the original Faculty of Cooper Medical College:[17]

Original Faculty of Cooper Medical College
Appointed 2 November 1882

  • Henry Gibbons, Sr., M. D.,
    Professor of the Principles and Practice of Medicine
  • L. C. Lane, M. D.,
    Professor of Surgery and President of the College
  • C. N. Ellinwood, M. D.,
    Professor of Physiology
  • Adolph Barkan, M. D.,
    Professor of Ophthalmology and Otology
  • Jos. H. Wythe, M. D.,
    Professor of Microscopy and Histology
  • Henry Gibbons, Jr., M. D., Dean
    Professor of Obstetrics and Diseases of Women and Children
  • Wm. A. Douglass, M. D.,
    Professor of Clinical Surgery
  • Jos. O. Hirschfelder, M. D.,
    Professor of Clinical Medicine
  • Clinton Cushing, M. D.,
    Professor of Gynecology
  • W. D. Johnston, M. D.,
    Professor of Chemistry and Toxicology
  • L. L. Dorr, M. D.,
    Professor of Materia Medica and Therapeutics
  • R. H. Plummer, M. D.,
    Professor of Anatomy
  • John F. Morse, M. D.,
    Adjunct to the Chair of Anatomy
  • W. S. Whitwell, M. D.,
    Adjunct to the Chair of Obstetrics
  • Chas. E. Farnum, M. D.,
    Demonstrator of Anatomy

The original Cooper Faculty, reflecting the changes incurred in the Medical College of the Pacific during the previous decade, was composed of the above twelve Professors and three appointees of lesser rank. Twelve was the average complement of full Professors at Cooper Medical College for the next decade but the total teaching staff was progressively augmented by appointments at the adjunct and assistant levels.

Second Meeting, Board of Directors of Cooper Medical College

The final item of urgent business to be completed by the Board of Directors prior to the Commencement scheduled for the evening of 4 November 1882, was the exercise of its newly-acquired corporate authority to award the M. D. degree.

On the previous day, 3 November, the Faculty of the Medical College of the Pacific met for the annual ritual of voting on candidates to be granted the medical diploma. Twelve candidates were elected.

Dean Gibbons then formally announced to the Faculty that they had all been appointed to the Faculty of Cooper Medical College. Whereupon, in their new capacity as Faculty of Cooper Medical College, they voted to recommend to the Board of Directors, that the degree of Doctor of Medicine of Cooper Medical College be awarded to the twelve candidates whom they had just elected.

On 4 November, the Board of Directors met and approved the recommendation from the new Faculty of Cooper Medical College that the twelve students who had satisfactorily completed the requirements of the Medical College of the Pacific be granted the M. D. degree of Cooper Medical College.

On the evening of 4 November, during ceremonies at Cooper Medical College that combined Dedication of the new building with Commencement Exercises, the Diploma of Cooper Medical College was awarded to each of the twelve graduates.

The San Francisco Morning Call, Sunday Edition, 5 November 1882, reported the event in a lengthy article headed:

Dr. Lane's Gift

Dr. Lane's Gift
Dedication of the New Cooper Medical College Building
History of a Generous Donation and Substantial
Aid to the Science of Medicine
A Building Mystery Solved

Cooper Medical College

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A photo of Cooper Medical College building, a distinguished five-floor, corner brick building

The unwonted lights that blazed from every window of the five stories of the new building on the corner of Webster and Sacramento Streets, last evening, were signals of the exercises within, which were in threefold ways interesting. The exercises were the dedication of the Cooper Medical College, the conferring of degrees upon graduates of the Pacific Medical School and the solving of the great mystery which has surrounded the new building from the time it was started. It is an unusual fact that the unreserved donation of a college building and ground to an association should be a matter that the donator endeavored to keep from being known. Yet this is what Dr. L. C. Lane, who has so distinguished himself by this generous deed, endeavored to do, and for a long time succeeded in doing. But, of course, the facts of the case were sure to be made public upon such an occasion as the dedication of the building to its scientific purposes and, the knowledge that some history of the generous act would be given, gave more than common interest to the exercises last night. In the address of Edward R. Taylor, published below, the interesting facts clearing the mystery and giving credit to the donator are pleasantly told.

The dedicatory exercises were held in a large hall on the second floor of the handsome building. The hall was crowded with ladies and gentlemen, the speaker's desk and table loaded with flowers and the platform filled with members of the faculty, looking happy in their new home, for the Faculty of the Pacific Medical College, of which the Cooper Medical College is a reincorporation, remains unchanged The exercises began with music which was followed by a prayer by the Reverend W. A. Scott, D. D. (President, Board of Trustees, University[City] College.)

After some more music Professor L. C. Lane, President of Cooper Medical College, conferred the degrees on twelve graduates. The ceremonies of the evening were then concluded with eloquent addresses by Professor Lane who had wise words of inspiration and advice for the graduates; and Dr. Taylor, who extolled the accomplishments and generosity of Professor Lane, and the pioneering spirit and vision of Elias Cooper.[18]

In historical perspective, the ultimate significance for medicine in the West of Dr. Lane's donation of Cooper Medical College, and subsequent additions thereto, can hardly be overstated. We may even suggest that his acts of private philanthropy - humanitarian in their motivation, seminal in their effect, major in their scale - place him in the select company of such memorable contemporaries as Johns Hopkins and Leland Stanford.

The newly appointed Faculty of Cooper Medical College, in recognition of Dr. Lane's unselfish contribution to medical education and science, and in gratitude for his invitation to join the new College, adopted the following laudatory resolutions which were engrossed on parchment, signed by all members of the Faculty and presented to him[19]

Dr. Levi Cooper Lane (1828-1902)

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A photo of Dr. Levi Cooper Lane (1828-1902)

Whereas our esteemed colleague, Dr. L. C. Lane, Professor of Surgery, has manifested his regard for the interests of the medical profession of the Pacific Coast, by erecting at his own expense the substantial and beautiful building dedicated to medical education, under the name of the "Cooper Medical College," and. has invited the Faculty of the Medical College of the Pacific to occupy Professorships in the new college on the same terms and according to the same principles which have heretofore governed them, and whereas the members of the Faculty of the Medical College of the Pacific have signified their acceptance, and have agreed to the change of name and transference implied in the said invitation; it is an appropriate occasion for the Faculty to record their sentiments; therefore

Resolved, 1st That the past success of the Medical College of the Pacific is a subject of just pride to the members of the Faculty as indicating solid scientific progress in the profession of medicine on the Pacific Coast.

2nd That the munificent gift of Professor L. C. Lane in the erection and furnishing so beautiful and elaborate a building for medical education, entitles him to the regard of his fellow citizens as a public benefactor, and establishes a firm foundation for the highest grade of medical scholarship known, so that for years to come San Francisco will attract students from surrounding States and Territories on account of its superior advantages.

3rd That while we may not be able to emulate the generosity of our colleague in the same or similar manner we regard the spirit in which it was performed as one of unselfish devotion to the interests of humanity which will prompt us to labor assiduously in our several departments so as to promote the same noble end.

Bylaws of the Faculty of Cooper Medical College

The Faculty of Cooper Medical College met on 9 November 1882 for the first time since the Commencement Exercises. They proceeded to reorganize in accordance with their new status by adopting the Bylaws of the Medical College of the Pacific as Bylaws of the Faculty of Cooper Medical College, and by electing the following officers:

  • President: Professor L. C. Lane
  • Vice President: Professor Clinton Cushing
  • Dean and Treasurer: Professor Henry Gibbons, Jr.

Professor Lane (Chairman) and Professors Ellinwood and Gibbons, Jr. were reconstituted as the Executive Committee of the Faculty of Cooper Medical College.

The Faculty voted to continue their generous practice of fulfilling their teaching responsibilities without pay so that all existing funds and future resources of the College, after payment of current expenses, might be devoted to the purchase of apparatus for thorough equipment of the College.

As a gesture of appreciation to University of the Pacific and University (City) College for their previous sponsorship of the School, the Dean was instructed to notify the Trustees of these institutions that Cooper Medical College would continue to grant each institution the privilege, as in times past, of sending two students to the medical school free of tuition with the expectation that most of these graduates would enter the mission field. Furthermore, it was announced that medical graduates of these institutions would be awarded the diploma of Cooper Medical College upon application - an offer to which 80 of some 180 former graduates promptly responded.[20]

Decline of University (City) College

The separation of the Faculty from University (City) College and departure from the premises on Haight Street were amicably arranged and, as noted above, Reverend W. A. Scott graciously participated in the Dedication of Cooper Medical College by offering the Invocation. He also responded as follows to the decision by the Cooper Faculty to continue to grant two tuition-free scholarships to students recommended by University (City) College:[21]

St. John's Presbyterian Church
San Francisco, 20 November 1882

Dear Dean Gibbons,
In behalf of the Trustees of University-College we return you our sincere thanks for your letter of the 15th inst, and generous offer from the Cooper Medical College.

Our association with your Faculty has always been a most pleasant and profitable one. We shall always cherish a lively remembrance of it and sincerely wish you great prosperity and usefulness in your new institution. Please make my salutation acceptable to your Faculty.

Yours respectfully,
W. A. Scott, President
Board of Trustees

With regret, we must end our account of University (City) College's contribution to medical education on the Pacific slope by reporting that the fortunes of the institution continued to decline after the move to Haight Street. Already burdened with debt, the relocation proved to be a financial disaster. When all the bills were paid, there was not enough money remaining from the sale of the downtown property to pay for needed repairs on the buildings. The extended period of closure of the College associated with the move was harmful to its public image and the teachers, who were Presbyterian ministers, had to struggle with rebuilding the school's reputation while attempting, with limited success, to raise funds. In April 1877 the Trustees were forced to sell 140 feet of the frontage of their Haight Street lot to a theological seminary for $ 12, 000. This tactic only temporarily postponed the insolvency which finally led to permanent closure of University (City) College in 1886.

The College Building on Haight Street fared somewhat better. It remained standing for another seventy-six years. Although its exterior changed little from its original appearance, its interior was converted into an apartment house for low income people and a Baptist congregation met in one of the larger rooms on the main floor. Finally, in 1962, the building was torn down to make way for new construction, thus expunging the last physical trace of the Medical College of the Pacific.[22]

Governance of Cooper Medical College

With the advent of Cooper Medical College a new framework of governance was adopted as prescribed in the following three instruments:

  • Articles of Incorporation
  • Bylaws of Directors of Cooper Medical College
  • Bylaws of Faculty of Cooper Medical College

These documents provided the administrative stability crucial to the survival and progress of the School in the years ahead. Their main features are outlined as follows:

Articles of Incorporation

We have already described the procedure whereby Dr. Lane and four colleagues incorporated as an Association entitled "Cooper Medical College" and took the necessary steps as Board of Directors of the College to co-opt a Faculty and award diplomas to twelve medical graduates. The next step to be taken was the adoption of a separate set of Bylaws for the Directors, entitled:[23]

Bylaws of Cooper Medical College

The following are the major elements of the Bylaws as adopted originally on 28 November 1882 and variously amended until 1904:[24]


Article One. (as amended 25 January 1892) The government of the College shall be composed of five (5) Directors who shall be elected by the Members of the College at an election to be held on the last Monday in January of each year.

Said Directors shall elect from their own number a President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer, who shall hold office for the term of one year from the time of their election, and until their successors shall have been chosen and qualified.

The Directors shall meet on the last Monday in each month, and at such other times as the President may deem necessary.

If a vacancy occur in the office of President, Vice President, Secretary or Treasurer, such vacancy shall be filled by the Board of Directors by electing one of their own number; and in the event of a vacancy occurring in the office of Director, the Board shall elect one of the Members of the College to fill the same, and the officer or officers so elected shall hold office until the next annual meeting.

(Note. The Members of Cooper Medical College and the Directors of the College as referred to in these Bylaws derive from the Association of five physicians organized by Dr. Lane to incorporate as Cooper Medical College. These five physicians became the original five Members of the corporation known as Cooper Medical College, and they elected themselves as the original five Directors (i. e. Executives) of the College. These Bylaws were designed to govern the operation of the College. Since the Members and the Directors were the same five individuals, that is until the number of Members was increased from five to six in 1890, and separate minutes were kept of their activities as Members or as Directors, the records are sometimes confusing.)


Article Two. The Board of Directors shall prescribe the curriculum of studies to be taught by the corps of professors and teachers and such other rules and regulations as in their judgment may from time to time be found necessary and proper; it shall authorize all expenditures and shall constitute the ruling and governing power of the College.


Article Three The President shall preside at all the meetings of the Members and at all the meetings of the Directors; he shall see that the Bylaws and such rules and regulations as may be adopted by the Directors are rigidly enforced, and that the purposes for which the College was incorporated are strictly pursued; he shall have a general supervision of all the affairs of the College and at the annual meeting of members he shall present a report of the accounts and general concerns of the College during the previous year.

He shall sign all contracts, diplomas and other instruments in writing, which have been first approved by the Board of Directors, and shall affix thereto the seal of the College.

He shall have the casting vote (the deciding vote cast by the presiding officer when the voting on both sides is equal) at all meetings of the members and of the Directors.

Vice President

Article Four. In the absence of the President or inability of the President to act, the Vice President shall perform all the duties of the President. If both the President and Vice President be absent from a meeting of members or of Directors, the Secretary shall call the meeting to order and a temporary chairman shall be elected.


Article Five. The Treasurer shall receive the moneys belonging to the College and shall disburse the same under the direction of the Board of Directors. The funds of the College shall never be loaned to any member or to any Director nor used in any manner whatsoever save as directed by the Board of Directors. He shall make to the President an annual financial account immediately prior to the annual meeting of the members, together with estimates of receipts and disbursements for the ensuing year.

The Treasury of the College shall consist of four funds , to wit, the Donation Fund, the Current Fund and the Lane Hospital Fund.

Lane Library Fund. On 29 September 1903 Article 5 3/4 was adopted, to wit: There is hereby created a new fund in addition to those already existing and to be designated as the "Lane Library Fund" into which shall be paid all the proceeds arising from the sale of the properties bequeathed to this College by Pauline C. Lane; all moneys bequeathed to this College by Pauline C. Lane, etc. Out of said fund shall be paid all moneys necessary for the purchase of a site for a library building; for the construction of a library building on said site; for the fitting up, furnishing and appointing of said building; for the purchase of books and periodicals; etc.


Article Six. The Secretary shall keep an exact record of the proceedings and the meetings of the members of the College and of the Board of Directors.

He shall keep an exact record of the membership of the College, and on the admission of a new member he shall see that such new member subscribes his name to the Bylaws.


Article Seven.. The Members of the College shall meet annually at the time specified in Article One for the purpose of electing Directors and a Board of Managers for Lane Hospital, and of transacting such other business as shall come before them - such as receiving the Annual Report of the President, and discussing such matters as have relation to the scientific or business concerns of the College.

Mode of Election - Article Eight.


Article Nine. (as amended on 24 November 1890) The number of Members of the College, until otherwise ordered, shall be six (6) and no more.

With the exception of Pauline C. Lane, wife of Levi Cooper Lane, no one shall be admitted to membership hereafter unless he be a member of the Faculty provided for in Article Ten of the 'Bylaws, and be not less than the age of thirty years, and unless he receive all the votes of the then Members of the College, and unless he be not related by affinity or consanguinity to any of the other Members of the College.

Such new Member shall not be entitled to exercise any of the rights of membership until he has subscribed his name to the Bylaws of the College.

(Note: Originally the Bylaws specified that "the number of Members of the College shall be five (5) and no more." Article Nine was amended on 24 November 1890 to permit six members as above ordered so that Mrs. Lane might be elected as the sixth Member of Cooper Medical College in 1891. She thanked the College for her election and stated that she had no desire to exercise any power but, at the same time, her great interest in the institution made this closer connection with it very satisfactory. )

The Faculty

Article Ten. As extensively revised on 28 March 1904:

Section 1. There shall be maintained an efficient teaching body in the College consisting of Professors, Associate Professors, Assistant Professors, Lecturers, Instructors and Assistants, as the Board of Directors shall elect for the proper instruction of students in all branches of medicine and the sciences cognate thereto.

The Professors shall constitute the Faculty and shall meet regularly once a month at such time or times as the Faculty shall determine.

Professors, Associate Professors, and Assistant Professors shall hold their positions indefinitely except as

hereinafter provided.

Section 2. Instructors shall be elected for terms of two years and may be reelected. Lecturers shall be elected for one year and may be reelected.

Section 3. No one shall be elected a member of the Faculty except on receipt by this Board of a report in his favor signed by all the members of the Faculty.. . . .

Section 4. No Professor shall be dismissed from the Faculty except on the receipt by the Board of a request to that effect, signed by two-thirds of the members of the Faculty. The same rule shall apply to dismissal from the positions of Associate Professor and Assistant Professor. . . .

Section 6. Anyone holding a position in this College either as Professor or teacher who from time to time shall drink intoxicating liquor to excess shall thereby forfeit such position. . . .

Section 8. Women shall not be eligible for the position of Professor, Associate Professor or Assistant Professor. . . .

Section 10. A Collegiate Council is hereby created to be constituted of the whole teaching body except only assistants in the various departments of the College. Said Council shall meet at least once in each semester and at such other times as the President shall determine. The purpose of said Council shall be the discussion of such matters as relate to the teaching in the College and of the making of such recommendations in that regard to the Board of Directors or to the Faculty as the Council may deem proper.


Article Eleven. The degree of Doctor of Medicine conferred on those students who shall have earned it, according to the rules and regulations of the Directors, shall be evidenced by written Diplomas issued to such students, which Diplomas shall be under the seal of the College and shall be signed by the President of the College and by each member of the Faculty.

The Lane Lectures

Article Twelve. There shall be delivered from time to time, in addition to the regular medical lectures, such Lectures on the Sciences cognate to medicine as shall be thought proper by the President. Such lectures shall be free to the public and shall be known as "The Lane Lectures." They shall be delivered by the members of the Faculty, or by such persons outside of the Faculty as may be indicated by the Board of Directors.

Tuition Fees

Article Thirteen.. All moneys received from tuition fees shall be appropriated as follows:

First. To the payment of all the incidental expenses incurred in the maintenance, cleaning and repair of the College Building; of taxes, street assessments and insurance; of such servants including janitor as are necessary to be employed; of all expenses for fuel, gas, water, dissecting material and maintenance of museum.

Secondly. After the above payments are made, the remainder of all moneys arising from tuition fees shall be placed at the disposal of the Faculty.

Under the Bylaws of Cooper Medical College, strict control was exercised by the Directors who were highly efficient and successful in their management of the School. This was due primarily to the leadership of Dr. Lane, and to the fact that the Directors were closely integrated with a devoted Faculty, a condition which promoted collegial relations.

Bylaws of the Medical Faculty

We have already noted that the Faculty met on 9 November 1882 and adopted the Bylaws of the Medical College of the Pacific as Bylaws of Cooper Medical College. It was not until nine years later, in 1891, that the Cooper Faculty adopted a new set of Bylaws to which we shall later return.

The Lane Popular Lectures

Dr. Lane insisted that Article 12 be included in the Bylaws of Cooper Medical College in order to assure that a course of public medical lectures would be delivered annually and in perpetuity. The idea was controversial but Dr. Lane was convinced of the importance of disseminating medical information among the laity. The result was an annual series of ten free lectures that became known as "The Lane Popular Lectures." delivered semimonthly from January to May, inclusive.

The following description of the first course was printed in the Annual Announcement of the Cooper Medical College describing the program of the College for the Session of 1883:[25]

In the creation of this course, the founder has entertained the hope that besides being a public utility, it would tend somewhat to relieve medicine of the complaint of exclusiveness, often charged against it - of neglecting to contribute its quota to the diffusion of knowledge in those departments of science with which medical men are familiar. A prominent aim of a majority of these lectures will be to illustrate those topics which are comprised under the head of public health; some, however, will have a more scientific cast, and it is believed may aid in dispelling the errors popularly prevalent, that our profession is making no advances, and show to the contrary that no scientist is working more faithfully than the medical, and that in no department of science are more new tracts of knowledge being added than in medical science.

To conform to the purposes of the donor, as just stated, the Faculty of Cooper Medical College will deliver the first course of lectures in the new building upon the evening of the first and third Fridays of each month, from January to May, inclusive.

The first course of lectures on the following subjects began on 5 January 1883 and was delivered by members of the Faculty.

  • Physical Education of Women by Dr. Clinton Cushing
  • Influence of Belief Upon Man's Organization and Character by Dr. Henry Gibbons, Sr.
  • The Perpetuation of Disease by Dr. C. N. Ellinwood
  • Mind and Brain by Dr. J. H. Wythe
  • Suicide by Dr. L. L. Dorr
  • Food and its Adulteration by Dr. W. G Johnston
  • Infant Food by Dr. Henry Gibbons, Jr.
  • Contagious Diseases and Disease Germs by Dr. J. O. Hirschfelder
  • How Do We Hear and How Do We Lose Our Hearing ? by Dr. Adolph Barkan
  • Anesthetics by Dr. L. C. Lane

Although the lectures during the earlier years were delivered by the older members of the Faculty, in later years the younger members were expected to participate for Dr. Lane believed that this would improve their public speaking ability.

As we might expect from our knowledge of the suspicious nature of San Francisco doctors, Dr. Lane was severely criticized in the local medical society for sponsoring public lectures which they considered nothing more than an advertising scheme. There were also those who believed that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, and that teaching medicine to the public could only do harm.

In 1932 Dr. Emmet Rixford, former assistant to Dr. Lane and later Professor of Surgery at Stanford Medical School, delivered a lecture entitled "The Lane Popular Lectures" during the fiftieth consecutive course of those Lectures. He pointed out that this lecture series had continued for fifty years without interruption, and from the beginning with creditably large audiences. This strongly attests to the success of the undertaking and amply vindicated Dr. Lane who was years ahead of his time - witness the vast amount of medical information now published and broadcast by physicians for the instruction of the public.[26]

In 1895 Dr. Lane permanently endowed a biennial Lane Course of Medical Lectures to be delivered by some eminent personage in medicine, a subject to which we shall later return.

University of California Beckons Again

Also according to Dr. Rixford, at about the time of the founding of the Lane Popular Lectures in 1882, the University of California made another attempt to absorb the Cooper school:[27][28]

About this time a determined effort (the second or third) to bring the two schools together was made by dear old Doctor John LeConte, when President of the University of California. In the goodness of his heart he went so far as to have an appointment to a professorship in the Medical Department of the University issued to each of the members of the faculty of Cooper College. The effort was well meant but not well timed, for Dr. Lane had just spent $150,000 of his money in constructing the college building, and it was not in him to give up then. When a committee of the Medical Faculty of the University waited on Dr. Lane he stated that he was opposed to the proposed union, that in his opinion there was room for the two schools, that the friendly rivalry which existed between them was beneficial to both; they could keep up the standard of medical education, but if they united other and inferior schools would surely rise up to take the place of one of them. When the matter was brought up in his faculty Dr. Lane summarily closed the incident by saying that if anyone wished to accept the appointment he had best do so at once.[29]

We find no mention of this invitation from the University of California in the minutes of either Medical College of the Pacific or Cooper Medical College. That is not surprising for Dr. Lane appears to have promptly squelched all interest in the proposal of President LeConte to abolish the Cooper school on the eve of its rebirth. John LeConte (c.1818 to 1891) was Professor of Physics in the University of California and served as President of the University from 1876 to 1881.

Henry Gibbons, Sr., (1808-1884)

The first of the Lane Lectures of the year 1885 was delivered by Dr. Lane on January 2nd as a eulogy for Dr. Gibbons, Sr., who died on 4 November 1884.[30]

Eight years ago the health of Dr. Gibbons began to fail, and from that period until the time of his death, he was frequently ill. His affliction had no well defined character; at times it caused him to suffer greatly from violent pains of a seemingly neuralgic nature. His disease was doubtless due to over-work of body and mind, for age found in him no disposition to abate the exacting duties which had been the accustomed task of earlier years. In his busy career, upon his ear fell unheeded the whisperings of time that the sixth age had come, when men should shift into the penultimate act of repose, for one saw him still, more dead than alive, pale, feeble and suffering, pushing his course among the crowding throng of our city.

At length exhausted nature clamored so loudly for rest, that for once he listened to it, and consulting with his friends, it was decided that he must make a journey for his health. But whither should he go? As the dying Greek of old, remembered and longed to see his native Argos, so he longed to revisit the home of his youth in Wilmington, Delaware. Early last autumn he repaired thither, and enjoyed the warm greetings of many old friends; met and addressed those kindred to him in faith in the meeting-house where his father had worshipped. That scene of silent worshippers, or rapt listeners to the aged speaker, as he told again the old story of simple piety and plain virtue, would have been a fit subject for the pencil of the Quaker artist, Benjamin West.

The fields with their well-known Flora, the skies with familiar cloud-forms, no doubt awakened in his heart many an emotion of mute rapture, but it was in the home of his father that the sight of old remembered objects awakened the deepest feelings. Amidst such surroundings, he fell asleep, and was visited by two messengers; one, that of Death, who having touched his heart gently and painlessly, gave it rest and hasted away; the other, that of Peace, who, having placed upon his brow a chaplet of the white flowers of purity, remains by his side forever.

There can be no doubt of the crucial role of Dr. Gibbons in the ultimate survival of the medical school launched in 1858 against forbidding odds by Elias Cooper. When Cooper died in 1862 Dr. Lane, the heir apparent, had been on the faculty only one year and was not yet inured to the contentious medical environment of San Francisco. When the school was suspended in 1864 for want of Cooper's vigorous advocacy, Lane, Gibbons and others of the Cooper faculty joined Toland Medical College. It was chiefly Gibbons who, six years later with Lane at his side, rallied the dispersed Cooper faculty and revived the Cooper school in 1870.

By this time Dr. Gibbons had become editor of the Pacific Medical and Surgical Journal and was establishing himself as the foremost medical journalist of the West. He used the pages of the Journal to frustrate the efforts of Toland and his partisans to dissolve or engulf the renascent Cooper school.

Also in 1870, Dr. Gibbons joined with Dr. Thomas Logan in reorganizing the State Medical Society. The Society had been founded fourteen years previously by Thomas. Logan in association with Elias Cooper who, according to Dr. Logan, "was the leading spirit of the occasion." In the field of medical organization in the State, there was no one more effective and constructive than Dr. Gibbons in his day.

Dr. Gibbons was ever the Nestor of the medical faculty and wise personal counselor to Dr. Lane who was able to devote two important years (1876-1878) to study in Europe only by entrusting management of the Medical College of the Pacific to Dr. Gibbons, Sr. It was not until his return from abroad in 1878 that Dr. Lane firmly took up leadership of the school.

We may fairly conclude, then, that Henry Gibbons, Sr., was responsible for the revival and survival of the Cooper school during the critical sixteen-year period of transition from the death of Elias Cooper in 1862 to the return of Dr. Lane from Europe in 1878; and that, In the annals of the Cooper schools, Elias Cooper, Henry Gibbons, Sr., and Levi Lane should be always remembered as the triumvirate of patriarchs.


  1. Henry Gibbons , "The San Francisco Medical Society, and the Medical College of the Pacific," Pacific Medical and Surgical Journal 16, no. 3 (Aug 1873): 144. Lane Library catalog record
  2. R. Beverly Cole , "Change of Base," Western Lancet 2 (Jul 1873): 427-428. Lane Library catalog record
  3. R. Beverly Cole , "Our Newly-Located Medical Society," Western Lancet 2 (Sep 1873): 552-223. Lane Library catalog record
  4. Henry Gibbons , "The San Francisco Medical Society, and the Medical College of the Pacific," Pacific Medical and Surgical Journal 16, no. 3 (Aug 1873): 144-145. Lane Library catalog record
  5. Clifford M. Drury , William Anderson Scott "No Ordinary Man" (Glendale, California: Arthur H. Clark Co., 1967), pp. 311-312.
  6. Bylaws of Medical College of the Pacific, Adopted 1875 - Box 1.10, Medical College of the Pacific Collection of publications, Lane Medical Archives, Stanford. Lane Library catalog record
  7. Minutes of the Faculty of Cooper Medical College for 25 January 1884, Minutes of the Faculty of Cooper Medical College - Box 6, Cooper Medical College Collection of publications, Lane Medical Archives, Stanford. Lane Library catalog record
  8. Building Bids and Oversized building Bills - Box 1.4, Building / Financial Documents - Box 1, Cooper Medical College Collection of publications, Lane Medical Archives, Stanford. Lane Library catalog record
  9. Miscellaneous Newspaper Clippings, [Collection of newspaper articles on Cooper Medical College and Stanford University School of Medicine], Lane Medical Archives, Stanford. Lane Library catalog record
  10. Minutes of Faculty of Medical College of Pacific, 6 October 1882, Box 1.18, Medical College of the Pacific Collection of publications, Lane Medical Archives, Stanford. Lane Library catalog record
  11. Henry Gibbons , "Editorial: Our Journal - Two Numbers in One - The New College Building," Pacific Medical and Surgical Journal 25, nos. 6 and 7 (Nov-Dec 1882): 266-267. Lane Library catalog record
  12. Ernest E. Irons , The Story of Rush Medical College (Chicago: Published by the Board of Trustees of Rush Medical College, 1953), p. 26. Lane Library catalog record
  13. Annual announcement of the Cooper Medical College, Session of 1883, pp. 10-11. Lane Library catalog record
  14. J. Marion Read , History of the San Francisco Medical Society, Vol. 1, 1850 to 1900 (San Francisco: Published by the San Francisco Medical Society, 1958) pp. 162-164. Lane Library catalog record
  15. Minutes, Society to Establish Cooper Medical College, pp. 1-5, Minutes of Cooper Medical College, 14 Oct. 1882 - 14 Aug 1899 - Box 5.1, Cooper Medical College Collection of publications, Lane Medical Archives, Stanford. Lane Library catalog record
  16. Articles of Incorporation of Cooper Medical College, pp. 1-7, Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws of Cooper Medical College - Box 3.3, Cooper Medical College Collection of publications, Lane Medical Archives, Stanford. Lane Library catalog record
  17. Minutes, First Meeting of Board of Directors, p. 6, Minutes of Cooper Medical College, 14 Oct. 1882 - 14 Aug 1899 - Box 5.1, Cooper Medical College Collection of publications, Lane Medical Archives, Stanford. Lane Library catalog record
  18. Levi C. Lane and Edward R. Taylor, Addresses delivered on the occasion of the dedication of Cooper Medical College Building (San Francisco: A. L. Bancroft and Company, 1882), 42 pp. Lane Library catalog record
  19. "Testimonial to L. C. Lane, M. D., by the Faculty of Cooper Medical College," Collection of newspaper articles on Cooper Medical College and Stanford University School of Medicine, Lane Medical Archives, Stanford. Lane Library catalog record
  20. Minutes of 9 November 1882, Minutes of Faculty of Cooper Medical College - Box 6, Cooper Medical College Collection of publications, Lane Medical Archives, Stanford. Lane Library catalog record
  21. Minutes of 23 November 1882, Minutes of Faculty of Cooper Medical College - Box 6, Cooper Medical College Collection of publications, Lane Medical Archives, Stanford. Lane Library catalog record
  22. Clifford M. Drury , William Anderson Scott "No Ordinary Man" (Glendale, California: Arthur H. Clark Co., 1967), pp. 311-312.
  23. Articles of Incorporation of Cooper Medical College, vol. 4, pp. 1-7, Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws of Cooper Medical College - Box 3.3, Cooper Medical College Collection of publications, Lane Medical Archives, Stanford. Lane Library catalog record
  24. Articles of Incorporation of Cooper Medical College, vol. 4, pp. 11-19, Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws of Cooper Medical College - Box 3.3, Cooper Medical College Collection of publications, Lane Medical Archives, Stanford. Lane Library catalog record
  25. Annual Announcement of Cooper Medical College for Session of 1883, pp. 8-9. Lane Library catalog record
  26. Emmet Rixford , "Levi Cooper Lane, M. D. - The Lane Popular Lectures," California and Western Medicine 37, no. 6 (Dec 1932): 382-383. Lane Library catalog record
  27. Emmet Rixford , "Early Medical Schools on the Pacific Coast," Pacific Medical Journal 56, no. 3 (Mar 1913): 161. Lane Library catalog record
  28. Emmet Rixford , Dedication of the Lane Medical Library, Leland Stanford Jr. University, San Francisco, November 3, 1912: Addresses of Timothy Hopkins, Emmet Rixford, David Starr Jordan, Leland Stanford Junior University Publications Trustees' Series No. 22 (1912), p. 13. Lane Library catalog record
  29. William Carey Jones , Illustrated History of the University of California, 1868-1895 (San Francisco: Frank H. Dukesmith Publisher, 1895), p. 334. Lane Library catalog record
  30. Levi C. Lane, Dr. Henry Gibbons: In Memoriam (San Francisco: Howard & Pariser, printers and publishers, 1885). Lane Library catalog record