Founding of the Medical College of Louisiana

The Medical College of Louisiana, now Tulane University School of Medicine, was founded by three young physicians in 1834. They published a document, officially titled The First Circular or Prospectus of the Medical College of Louisiana. This is the original document pertaining to the establishment of Tulane University as a whole. This manuscript served as a copy for the printer announcement of and justification for the founding of the first medical school in New Orleans. It was drafted on 23 September 1834 by Dr. Thomas Hunt with the assistance of Dr's. John H. Harrison and Warren Stone. The Prospectus was published a week later, on 29 September 1834, in French and English versions on the front page of L'Abeille (The Bee), the local, bilingual newspaper.

The Prospectus caused a storm of controversy in New Orleans at the time. The French physicians of the community were outraged that these youthful American physicians of the community (the eldest of the three founders was twenty-six) should presume the latter were more qualified to teach medicine than the former. John Hoffman Harrison

With the formation of additional colleges, the Medial College of Louisiana evolved into the University of Louisiana in 1847. The University was renamed Tulane University, and became a wholly private institution in 1884.

Little is known about the subsequent history of The Prospectus manuscript: where it was kept, who cared for it or how it was handed down. The best guess is that it was preserved in the care of successive Deans of the School of Medicine or their assistants. In 1982 it was transferred from the Office of the Chancellor to the Archives of the Rudolph Matas Library. The manuscript was first exhibited on 6 June 1987 at the Graduation Reception of the School of Medicine Class of 1987. Its condition is fragile and display is rare, limited to the most important School of Medicine and University anniversaries and ceremonies.

The pedestal and case for the preservation and display of The Prospectus manuscript was provided through the generosity of the School of Medicine Class of 1987 and the efforts of Gordon Patrick Marshall, M.D., Class President.

The Prospectus is not currently indexed in the Tulane online catalog, but the full text is available online and the document is part of University Archives. Contact the University Archivist for more information: