Medical lecture admission cards, 1807-1833. Gift of William H. Helfand.
In the 19th century medical school attendance was typically managed through the use of lecture admission cards that students were required to purchase for each class. The cards were often replete with images representing the divine nature of medical practice, or the specific course of study. This served not only to thwart efforts at counterfeiting, but also to establish the credibility of the institution in an era before standards for medical education. Four of the cards shown here were issued by Rutgers Medical College in New Brunswick, New Jersey in 1826-27, its only year of operation. Founder Dr. David Hosack (1769-1835) met with such resistance from the competitive New York City medical establishment that, despite recruiting esteemed lecturers such as surgeon Valentine Mott (1785-1865), he was forced to close the college. During its brief existence, Hosack presented the medical college as an elite institution by commissioning these admission cards, each designed and engraved by a different artist.