“The History of the Omaha Medical College”, an interactive digital exhibit, is now on display on the 8th floor of the library.
The Omaha Medical College (OMC) was a proprietary medical school founded in 1881. The first class was made up of 35 students, including two women and an African-American. Originally located on the southwest corner of Mason and Eleventh Streets, the OMC faculty consisted of prominent local physicians. It affiliated with the University of Nebraska in 1902 to become the University of Nebraska College of Medicine.
In the exhibit you can browse a timeline of the OMC, learn about some of the founding doctors and graduates, and experience what it was like as a student. In addition, our first digital exhibit “130 Years of Leadership: Images of the Deans of the College of Medicine 1881-2010,” based on the book by Dr. Robert Wigton, will continue to be on display.
The medical technology education program at the University of Nebraska College of Medicine was started in 1932. It was organized in cooperation with the clinical laboratory of the University of Nebraska Hospital (now Nebraska Medicine), which had been established in 1923.
Medical technology (now Medical Laboratory Science) was the first program in the area becoming known as the allied health professions to be started at UNMC. Several other programs quickly followed. With the growth of these various programs, a School of Allied Health Professions was formed within the College of Medicine in 1972. In 1973, the physician assistant program was started, and other new programs would follow in the last decades of the 20th century.
In 2007, Bennett Hall (built in 1918) underwent an $8.9 million renovation (46,000 square feet of space), and in August 2008, all ten of the educational programs of School of Allied Health were finally housed together, for first time ever in one location, having previously been located across the UNMC campus in various buildings.
On July 1, 2015, the School of Allied Health Professions ceased being administered by the College of Medicine, and became the College of Allied Health Professions, the sixth college established at UNMC.
In 1887, John Latenser, Sr. (1858-1936), set up an architectural practice in Omaha. His practice spanned more than 50 years, with commissions for many of the city’s larger civic and commercial building projects, including the Douglas County Courthouse, Scottish Rite Masonic Temple, Brandeis Department Store, and Central, North and South High Schools. For several decades Latenser was the primary architect for the University of Nebraska College of Medicine (later UNMC). Latenser may have envisioned this concept plan (see image) for the medical campus as early as 1915, with this rendering of the plan dated 1921.
Charles Poynter, M.D. (College of Medicine Dean 1930-46) wrote, “The 1911 Legislature provided $100,000 for a college building . . . finished in the fall of 1913, the school was set up in the new building. In the original campus plan, provision was made for a 500 bed teaching hospital consisting of five units. In 1915, $l50,000 was appropriated for the first unit. John Latenser & Sons were engaged to draw the plans and have since been in charge of all campus building.”
In 1919, Irving Cutter, M.D. (College of Medicine Dean 1915-25) wrote, “With the construction of the South Lab Building (Bennett Hall) and the Central Power Plant, the total cost of buildings on the medical campus will exceed a half million dollars. The South Lab Building . . . in general architecture, is an exact duplicate of the North Lab Building (Poynter Hall).”
Latenser’s campus plan was never completed as envisioned. Conkling Hall (first permanent College of Nursing building) was completed in 1923 and a second unit of the hospital opened in 1927. Appropriations for and construction of other buildings in the plan never happened because of the poor farm economy of the 1920s and the great depression of the 1930s.
The U. S. entered World War I on April 6, 1917, and fought throughout the remainder of the conflict, until the armistice was signed on November 11, 1918. Eighty members of the College of Medicine faculty and student body were in military service by March 1918.
University of Nebraska Base Hospital No. 49 was organized in September 1917 and was mobilized in March 1918. After the war, the unit was taken out of service in January 1919, and the members of the unit sailed for the U.S. in April 1919. The unit was then transferred by train in May 1919 to Camp Dodge, Iowa, where it was demobilized on May 7, 1919.
Many College of Medicine alumni also joined Base Hospital No. 49. Among them was Dr. J. C. Waddell (fifth from right in photo), a 1910 graduate who had been practicing in Pawnee City, Nebraska before the war. Born in 1876 in Illinois, Waddell came with his family to Nebraska in 1882, settling on a farm southwest of Pawnee City. He attended rural school until he was 13 years old, and then enrolled in the Pawnee City Academy (high school). He later graduated from Tarkio College in Missouri, and then attended the University of Nebraska College of Medicine.
After the war, in 1920, Dr. Waddell joined in practice with another physician in Beatrice, Nebraska. He continued to practice medicine in Beatrice for the next 50 years.
Bibliophile and faculty member Dr. Alfred Brown was commissioned by the University of Nebraska to design a bookplate for the College of Medicine library in 1920. He completed a copper plate etching, incorporating the seal of the University at the top, a view of the front of University Hospital as it then appeared in the center, and the medical symbol of the caduceus at the bottom. Because of the fine details of the design, Dr. Brown had to do much of the etching under a microscope. The resulting bookplate received much critical praise and was still in use by the library until the late 1960s.
Alfred Jerome Brown, M.D. (1878-1960), was a graduate of Yale and of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University. He served in the U.S. armed forces during World War I, from 1917 to 1919, in New York and later in France. He moved to Omaha in 1919, and joined the faculty of the University of Nebraska College of Medicine,
where he was a professor of surgery from 1920 to 1943. He had an extensive personal collection of rare surgical books.
In 1978, the library was named for Omaha obstetrician Leon Steiner McGoogan, M.D. (1900-1993), and the library’s bookplate was updated to reflect the new name and, since 1970, the then-new library, located on the top three floors of Wittson Hall.