The University of Kansas Medical Center

A Pictorial History

Lawrence H. Larsen and Nancy J. Hulston

In 1905, the University of Kansas School of Medicine opened in the basement of a building in downtown Kansas City, Kansas. By 1991 it occupied 2.3 million square feet of space in Kansas City and many thousands more in Wichita and area health education centers; it had an annual budget of over $235 million and a staff of over 5,000.

A lot has happened in the last eighty-seven years.

“A valuable contribution to the history of the university and medical education and care in the region.

—South Dakota History

“Well researched, unbiased, and readable.

—Journal of the West
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In 385 black-and-white photographs, historians Lawrence Larsen and Nancy Hulston portray the tremendous changes that have taken place and illustrate a story of dramatic institutional growth from the humblest of beginnings.

From its opening in the fall of 1905, the University of Kansas School of Medicine grew in fits and starts. Progress depended on legislative and public support, which was often unreliable, especially at first. Larsen and Hulston chronicle the development of the school in a brief text, in quotations from contemporary sources, and in carefully chosen photographs. "Photographic evidence was so complete," the authors note in their introduction, "that had we wanted to, we could have devoted an entire chapter to the development of the Medical Center power plant."

Instead, they focused on the changes in the physical facilities at 39th and Rainbow and the accompanying evolution of medical education there. Action shots show buildings under construction, as well as doctors and students in settings that range from primitive, turn-of-the-century laboratories to the gleaming present-day facilities. Many photographs portray doctors, nurses, and students going about their daily activities-conducting clinical examinations, performing nursing demonstrations, rehabilitating children, and caring for patients. Others depict social life, fraternal activities, and fun. One fascinating set of photographs documents the changes in operating rooms through the years.

Larsen and Hulston also place the development of the school in its larger social context, exploring programs like the Murphy Plan, designed to bring medical care to outlying areas of Kansas, and the effect of the two world wars on the school.

About the Author

Lawrence H. Larsen is professor of history at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and author of several books, including Wall of Flames: The Minnesota Forest Fire of 1894 and The Urban South: A History. Nancy J. Hulston is the archivist at the University of Kansas Medical Center. D. Kay Clawson, M.D., is Executive Vice Chancellor of the University of Kansas Medical Center. Gene Budig is Chancellor of the University of Kansas.