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Register of the California Homeopathic Institutions Records, 1884-1984
MSS 91-5  
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Collection Details
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  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Organizational History

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: California Homeopathic Institutions Records,
    Date (inclusive): 1884-1984
    Collection number: MSS 91-5
    Creator: California Homeopathic Institutions
    Extent: 4 cartons, 3 boxes, 1 o.s. box
    Repository: University of California, San Francisco. Library. Archives and Special Collections.
    San Francisco, California 94143-0840
    Shelf location: For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information


    Collection was created from materials received from a number of sources at different times. Some were transferred from the Californiana Collection (Alpha Sigma minute book; Hospital Board of directors' minutes); some were received from Otto Guttentag, MD (various College and Foundation minute books (1977; and returned to him in 1982, at his request); in January 1991, July 1991, materials came from the Medical Library, Children's Hospital (then parent organization of Marshall Hale Hospital, successor to Hahnemann Hospital, later California Pacific Medical Center); and from Elsa Engle (Womens' Homeopathic Foundation), various dates.


    Collection is open for research.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], California Homeopathic Institutions Records, MSS 91-5, Archives & Special Collections, UCSF Library & CKM

    Organizational History

    Homeopathic practice had been established on the East Coast of the United States some 20 years before it arrived in California. In the 1880/81 edition of the Catalogue of all Physicians and Surgeons... of the State of California, (San Francisco, Geo. Spaulding, 1880-81), the section titled "Homoeopathic Physicians" lists 146 physicians. Under the law of 1876 each medical society created a Board of Examiners to determine the competency of its members. Homeopaths were approved to practice in California by the Board of Examiners of the California State Medical Society of Homoepathic Practitioners. By 1889 the total number of registered homeopathic physicians reached 423 (61 of whom practiced in San Francisco), and by 1899, 774.
    In January 1881, several homeopaths gathered in the office of Dr. J. A. Albertson in San Francisco, to establish a homeopathic medical school to provide access to the discipline in California and the west coast. Financial difficulties prevented the wish from being fulfilled until several years later, in 1883, when four San Francisco homeopaths, F.E.J. Canney, J. N. Eckel, C. B. Currier and William Boericke (of the noted Philadelphia homeopathic family) took up the challenge, and made an appeal to the community for support for the project.
    The first meeting of the faculty of the Homeopathic Medical College of San Francisco took place on September 25, 1883, the first class of 16 students met June 3, 1884, and graduated in October that same year. Designed from the first as a three year school, it saw the merit of the advice of the American Institute for Homeopathy in the longer course, and adopted a four year plan in 1894. From its earliest period it was agreed that "women should be admitted on an equal footing with men to all the privileges of the college."
    Students gained clinical experience at the Pacific Homoeopathic Dispensary, affiliated with the College, but the college opened a very small hospital of its own in a small cottage on Sacramento Street, early in 1887. Dr. James W. Ward was the superintendent. Financial disruptions continued into the 90s, requiring annual resolutions to keep the College going. Perhaps in search of greater stability, early in 1897 the College made overtures to the University of California (established in Berkeley in 1868) for an affiliation between the two institutions, which were rejected. This defeat spurred the college regents to build their own plant, which got underway in 1898. Funds were sought across the state; the amount required for a four story building was $10.000. The cornerstone was laid February 4, 1899, and the building dedicated in July. Over the main entrance were the words "Hahnemann Hospital College."
    A new corporation was formed in 1903, known as the Hahnemann Medical College of the Pacific, which permitted the establishment of a training school for nurses, and the charter and holdings of the Hahnemann Hospital College were transferred in 1902.
    Thirteen years later the Regents of the University of California "accepted the proposal of the Hahnemann Medical College of the Pacific and now offer elective courses in homeopathy in the University of California Medical School." Beginning in the 1917-18 academic year, elective courses in homeopathy were offered under the direction of a professor of homeopathic materia medica and a professor of applied homeopathic therapeutics. All matriculants were required to meet entrance requirements of the School.
    The Pacific Homoeopathic Dispensary offered the earliest hospital care by homeopathic physicians in San Francisco, and was the first locus of clinical training by the newly established homeopathic medical college in the mid-1880s. Without sufficient financing, several attempts made to establish a homeopathic hospital in San Francisco failed. In 1895, however, under the newly revised charter of the city, the Hahnemann Medical College of the Pacific did gain the right (along with the other medical institutions) to supply interns to San Francisco City and County Hospital. In 1901, under newly elected Mayor E.E. Schmitz, James W. Ward, MD, a prominent homeopath, was appointed as a health commissioner of San Francisco. In 1903 Ward was elected president of the commission, and two wards in the City and County Hospital were assigned to the stewardship of the homeopathic community.
    However, the need for an hospital dedicated to the practice of homeopathy continued to assert itself, and in 1905 plans for the Hahnemann Hospital were signed. The opening of the 180-bed hospital, at California and Maple Streets, was delayed due to the earthquake of 1906; it opened in 1907. The management and operation of the hospital was transferred to the University of California Medical School in October 1916, on the occasion of the latter's agreement to offer courses in homeopathy at its Medical School. This governance was in effect until June 1930, when the hospital was returned to the Hahnemann Hospital Corporation. Unfortunately, the building was subsequently condemned by the San Francisco Fire Department and torn down. The second Hahnemann Hospital was opened in 1941, and a third hospital in 1971.
    A professional organization and professional literature as means of communication among practitioners were wanting in California until 1871. The California State Medical Society of Homoeopathic Practitioners was organized in San Francisco in 1871, and reorganized in 1874 as the Pacific Homoeopathic Medical Society It held its first annual meeting and issued its first publication, the Transactions of the Society, in the latter year. In 1877, under the legislative act of 1875-76, the Pacific Homeopathic Medical Society merged with the Pacific Medical Society to become the California State Homoeopatihie Medical Society, which would have the power to license homeopathic practitioners. At a meeting of the state society in 1923, at Santa Cruz, Dr. James W. Ward, a long time leader of the homeopathic community, announced the formation of the Homeopathic foundation of California.
    Though it lasted for only four issues, The American Journal of Homoeopathia, the first homeopathic periodical in the United States, got underway in February 1835. California's initial homeopathic publication, The California Medical Times, edited by Drs. Hiller and Worth, appeared four times in 1877. This was followed, in 1882, by The California Homeopath. It was edited by Dr. William Boericke, until the title changed, with volume nine, to Pacific Coast Journal of Homoeopathy.

    Scope and Content Note

    Records include brochures, correspondence, legal articles, matriculation records, minutes, photographs, invitations, graduation announcements, etc., for Hahnemann Medical College (San Francisco), Hahnemann Hospital (San Francisco), Homeopathic Foundation of California, California State Homeopathic Society and California Women's Homeopathic Society.