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University of Virginia School of Medicine records

Identifier: RG-17-1

Scope and Contents

The UVA School of Medicine records primarily document the history of the School at all levels of the organization during the 20th and 21st centuries.

Administrative records, including annual reports, meeting minutes, planning documents policies, and other materials, document operations, strategic initiatives, and decision making.

Communications records, including newsletters, blogs, websites, pamphlets, publications, and recordings, document events and public relations work.

Medical education and research records, including accreditation files, student records, syllabi, course catalogs, student organization records, commencement records, lectures, and conference reports, document the School's primary missions.

The collection includes a number of records previously described elsewhere (e.g. as part of a former archival collection or as an indiviudal item described in the Library catalog). Among these are a large group of bound items.

The UVA School of Medicine continues to transfer analog and digital records to the Claude Moore Health Sciences Library for inclusion in this collection.


  • Creation: 1825-present

Conditions Governing Access

All materials in this collection are available for public access unless otherwise noted. Restrictions on access are made in accordance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA), the Virginia Freedom of Information Act, and any related policies or regulations.

Conditions Governing Use

Unless otherwise noted, the University of Virginia owns the copyright to the materials in this collection that have not yet entered the public domain. You are free to use collection materials in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).

Biographical / Historical

Historical Overview of the School of Medicine

The School of Medicine* at the University of Virginia has been a key part of the University since its establishment in 1819 by Thomas Jefferson. In his early plans, Jefferson recommended the creation of a School of Anatomy and Medicine with a rigorous academic model, where students could attain medical education in nine months, a term that was twice as long as many schools at the time. Students would read, attend lectures, and watch demonstrations, but there would be few opportunities for them to work firsthand with patients, because there was no teaching hospital in Charlottesville. When the University opened its doors to students in 1825, Dr. Robley Dunglison taught all of the classes offered by the School of Anatomy and Medicine. Beginning in 1827, medical classes were held in the Anatomical Theatre, a building designed by Jefferson (though completed after his death) to accomodate a space for anatomical dissections. The study of anatomy was an important piece of early medical education; however, there was no systematic way for medical schools to obtain bodies for dissection prior to the Virginia Anatomical Act of 1884, and so cadavers were frequently procured through illegal and unethical means. Often this involved body snatching from local graves, most commonly those found in cemeteries of Virginia's slave, free black, and poor white populations.

Dunglison remained at UVA until 1833, and during that time he persuaded the UVA Board of Visitors to hire additional faculty for his medical department. In the mid-19th century, the UVA medical school was known for providing a good theoretical education. Academic activities were largely stagnant during the years of the Civil War, when Professor of Anatomy and Surgery James L. Cabell oversaw a Confederate military hospital erected in part on the Grounds of UVA, and later when Charlottesville was occupied by Union troops at the end of the war. In the decades after the Civil War, a period of biomedical revolution began to redefine the practice of medicine. In response, UVA initiated educational reforms to its medical curriculum, gradually lengthening the degree program to four years by the end of the 19th century, and introducing coursework in new fields like bacteriology and histology. In order to create increasingly important clinical opportunities for students, UVA committed to building its own facilities, including a dispensary for out-patient care in 1892 and finally a hospital, which opened in 1901. While science and medicine had entered a period of dramatic revolution, social systems were less inclined to evolve, and access to medical education at UVA remained restricted for many members of the population.

In the early 20th century, the University of Virginia was transforming into a modern university, dedicated to both education and research. At the center of this change were UVA’s health sciences programs. The University invested heavily in the School of Medicine, increasing the number of faculty in order to support emerging medical specialties and a new research mission. This period was also marked by the culmination of a fierce debate over the dual existence of state-supported medical programs in both Charlottesville and Richmond, VA. In 1921, a state-appointed commission recommended the relocation of the UVA School of Medicine to Richmond. UVA mobilized alumni and recruited political allies in order to wage a fierce campaign for the preservation of its medical program. They were ultimately successful, with the General Assembly deciding in favor of UVA. The period that followed was marked by continued expansion to the University’s academic medical center, including greater specialization across the field of medicine and an increase of students, faculty, and associated personnel throughout the health sciences programs.

Also of note during this time, in 1920 a resolution of the UVA Board of Visitors agreed to admit women into graduate and professional degree programs at UVA. The first woman to graduate from the School of Medicine, Sarah Ruth Dean, a transfer student, did so in 1922. In 1924, Lila Morse Bonner became the second woman to graduate from the School of Medicine and the first to attend all four years of medical school at UVA.

By the 1940s, public confidence in the health professions was strong among much of the U.S. public. After World War II, there was broad support for wider investment in academic medical centers. At UVA, federal grants were used to build new facilities, including the construction of a multi-story hospital tower. However, also at this time, access to education, employment opportunities, and health care at UVA continued to be unequal. With the rise of the Civil Rights movement, a combination of factors including, community activism, federal legislation, and court rulings compelled the University to start removing barriers to access. In 1953, Edward Bertram Nash and Edward Thomas Wood became the first two African Americans to be admitted to the UVA School of Medicine. Both went on to graduate in 1957.

Throughout the second half of the 20th century, the UVA health system continued to expand. A new medical education building was dedicated in 1972. (Originally named for Harvey E. Jordan, a former Dean of the School of Medicine and known proponent of eugenics; the building was renamed in honor of Dr. Vivian W. Pinn in 2016). This era of expansion also saw the opening of a nursing education building, health sciences library, primary care center, and finally, in 1989, a massive new hospital building. The 1980s and 1990s also saw efforts at the School of Medicine to increase access to the health professions among under-represented groups, including women and people of color.

Rapid developments in the health sciences continued to demand new facilities for research and education. The Claude Moore Medical Education Building opened as the new central location for the School of Medicine in 2010. Also in 2010, the School of Medicine launched a four college system, designed to preserve close student-faculty relationships and maintain a high-quality student experience while accommodating increased medical class size and a revised curriculum. Ten years later, the School of Medicine embraced further expansions with the launch of its Inova Campus in Northern Virginia, which provides clerkship opportunities for some upperclass medical students. The first cohort to spend their third and fourth years of medical school at the Northern Virginia campus arrived there in 2021.

*Note about naming conventions: Briefly known as the “School of Anatomy and Medicine” (1825-1827), the name “School of Medicine” was adopted by the Board of Visitors in July 1827. However, shortly later the name “Department of Medicine” came to be used (though some records still refer to the institution as “School of Medicine”). By the 1950s, the preferred name was again “School of Medicine”.

Biographical / Historical

Deans of the UVA School of Medicine

    Richard Henry Whitehead, MD, 1905-1916
    Theodore Hough, PhD, [Acting Dean: 1916-1917], 1917-1924
    James Caroll Flippin, MD, [Acting Dean: 1925-1927] 1927-1939
    Harvey Ernest Jordan, PhD, 1939-1949
    Vernon W. Lippard, MD, 1949-1953
    Thomas Harrison Hunter, MD, 1953-1964 [Leave of Absence: 1962-1964]
    Kenneth R. Crispell, MD, [Acting Dean: 1962-1964], 1964-1971
    James T. Hamlin III, MD, [Acting Dean: 1971-1972]
    William R. Drucker, MD, 1972-1977
    Norman J. Knorr, MD, 1977-1986
    Robert M. Carey, MD, 1986-2002
    Arthur “Tim” Garson Jr., MD, MPH 2002-2007
    Sharon L. Hostler, MD, Interim Dean: 2007-2008
    Steven T. DeKosky, MD, 2008-2013
    Nancy E. Dunlap, MD, PhD, 2013-2014
    Randolph J. Canterbury, MD, Interim Dean: 2014-2015
    David S. Wilkes, MD, 2015-2021
    Melina R. Kibbe, MD, 2021-

Prior to Richard Henry Whitehead's appointment by the Board of Visitors to the position of Dean of the Medical Faculty (as found in the UVA Board of Visitors Meeting Minutes, July 20, 1905), the position of Dean at the UVA School of Medicine was not in use. The appointment dates listed above are derived from the Board of Visitors Meeting Minutes.


71 Linear Feet (11 Records boxes, 76 document boxes, and (approximately) 22 linear feet of bound material.)

Language of Materials



The UVA School of Medicine records (RG-17-1) is part of a larger records group for the UVA Health System (RG-17). The School of Medicine records are further arranged into subdivisions, generally based on format. These subdivisions in many cases were chosen to reflect the Records Retention and Disposition Schedules Record Series maintained by the Library of Virginia (LVA); however, in some cases subdivisions do no have clear equivalents in the LVA schema. Some subdivisions (noted as "Series" in ArchivesSpace) are further divided into Sub-Series). Files are arranged alphabetically, by date, or by some other system best-suited to the contents.

Subdivisions in use for the UVA Health System records (RG-17) are listed below:

Department and Legacy Collections Annual Reports Correspondence and Subject Files of Selected Deans [Not currently included in RG-17-1] Correspondence and Subject Files of Major Department Heads Commencement Records Planning Documents and Reports Motion Pictures [Not currently included in RG-17-1] Final Accreditation Files Photographs, Slides, and Negatives Public Relations Files [Not currently included in RG-17-1] Publications Audiovisual Recordings [Not currently included in RG-17-1] Final Research Reports [Not currently included in RG-17-1] Student Organization Records and Publications Webpages Organizational Charts Policies, Procedures, and Handbooks Syllabi and Other Course Materials Major Donor Records [Not included in RG-17-1] Fundraising Planning and Reporting [Not currently included in RG-17-1] Trust and Endowment Records [Not currently included in RG-17-1] Course Schedules and Catalogs Library Accession Records [Not currently included in RG-17-1] Library Deaccessioning Records [Not currently included in RG-17-1] Admissions Publications Foundation Agreements and Management Reports Final Budget [Not currently included in RG-17-1] Conference Programs and Reports Legacy Patient Records [Not currently included in RG-17-1] Histories and Biographical Files Management Reports Other Reports (Historically Significant) Medical Student Records Directories Meeting Minutes Awards and Honors Lectures and Presentations Roll Books [Not currently included in RG-17-1] Other Logs and Ledgers [Not currently included in RG-17-1] Exhibit Materials [Not currently included in RG-17-1]

Physical Location

Note: Oversize materials are located on Row 19, located behind Row 1.

Related Materials

Materials found within the RG-17 classifications are frequently inter-related. Researchers of RG-17-1 UVA School of Medicine records may also want to consult: RG-17-2 UVA Medical Center records, RG-17-3 UVA School of Nursing records, RG-17-4 Claude Moore Health Sciences Library records, RG-17-5 Office of the Vice President for Health Affairs records, and RG-17-6 Department of Student Health records. [Some of these materials may not be currently available. All finding aids are works-in-progress.]

Processing Information

RG-17-1 includes records from multiple legacy collections held by the Claude Moore Health Sciences Library, including the UVA School of Medicine Reports (MS-66), UVA School of Medicine Biographical Files (MS-36), UVA Hospital Professional Staff Files (MS-25), UVA School of Medicine Chapter of Alpha Omega Alpha records (MS-53), and UVA Department of Medicine Housestaff and Chief Residents Photograph collection (MS-62). RG-17-1 also includes materials previously cataloged as separate items in Virgo (such as journals, newsletters, and reports), and materials from semi-processed legacy accessions, including the UVA School of Medicine Council on Medical Education records (Viuh-2015-26), UVA School of Medicine Faculty Files (Viuh-2015-27), and UVA School of Medicine Faculty Minutes (Viuh-2015-28). Bound materials are housed separately from the rest of the collection, and are generally referenced by individual item records (e.g. "BIR-100").

University of Virginia School of Medicine Records
Historical Collections and Services, Claude Moore Health Sciences Library, University of Virginia
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
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Repository Details

Part of the Claude Moore Health Sciences Library Repository

Claude Moore Health Sciences Library
1300 Jefferson Park Avenue
P.O. Box 800722
Charlottesville Virginia 22908-0722 United States