May 13, 2010
Our High Ranking Medical School Has Strong Roots
The Special Collections Research Center at the Kelvin Smith Library joins the celebration of the "America's Best Graduate Schools" ranking bestowed on The CWRU School of Medicine with a look at one of its founding fathers. The Jared Potter Kirtland Collection in the Special Collections Research Center includes lecture notes from his career as a professor of medicine and notebooks created in his lifelong study of the natural sciences.
Dr. Jared Potter Kirtland was born in 1793 in Wallingford, Connecticut. He spent his youth learning horticulture and botany before expanding his interest into the field of medicine. In 1813, he entered the first class of the medical department of Yale College, while also receiving private lessons in botany, geology, mineralogy, and zoology. He received his medical degree from Yale in 1815, and his highly diverse professional life began.
Kirtland had a long and successful career practicing medicine in Connecticut, and later, Ohio. It was in Ohio that he began to teach as well; first at Cincinnati’s Medical College of Ohio, then at Willoughby Medical College. In 1844, he, along with Drs. John Delamater, Horace Ackley, and John Cassals, founded the Medical Department of Western Reserve University, also known as the Cleveland Medical College. He remained at the Medical College as a professor of Theory and Practice of Medicine until his retirement in 1864. Today, the medical school he helped found, The Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, is ranked 20th out of 146 in the U.S. News & World Report national survey and maintains the highest ranking among Ohio medical schools.
Jared Potter Kirtland’s life encompassed much more than teaching medicine. Throughout his life, he shared his love of natural history and science. In 1845, he founded the Cleveland Academy of Science, which became the Kirtland Society of Natural History in 1865, forerunner of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. On his farm in East Rockport, Ohio (now Lakewood) Kirtland developed a wide array of agricultural advances which he shared generously with his neighbors and the world. He died there in 1877 leaving behind a legacy of dedication to enhancing our knowledge of mankind and the world we live in.
To learn more about the Kirtland materials in the Special Collections Research Center please enjoy our Guide to the Jared Potter Kirtland Collection Download file
Image from Box 1, folder 2 The Jared Potter Kirtland Collection. Illustrations of fish, pencil drawing with water color wash in Kirtland’s hand, ca.1839 with caption “H__ nigricans. From the Naturalists’ Library”