/////Old State House Exhibit Is on Arkansas Medical Education
Old State House Exhibit Is on Arkansas Medical Education 2018-01-05T08:58:04+00:00


OCT. 4, 2001 | Medical education in Arkansas is the subject of a new exhibit at the Old State House Museum in Little Rock.

Jonathan J. Wolfe, Ph.D., an historian and associate dean of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) College of Pharmacy, was guest curator for the exhibit, “Medical Education at the Old State House: From Flexner to the New Deal.” The historic state capitol, now a museum, was the location of the UAMS College of Medicine from 1912 to 1935. (See a video that is part of the exhibit. Listen to Dr. Wolfe in Here’s to Your Health audio.)

UAMS is a sponsor of the exhibit.

The exhibit will open Oct. 13 and remain through September 2002. Old State House hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Mon. through Sat., and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., Sun. Guided tours are available seven days a week.  (Please call in advance for group tour reservations at 501-324-9685.)

Many of the objects in the exhibit are on loan from the UAMS Library Historical Research Center

The exhibit treats the period following a report by Abraham Flexner, a consultant who wrote in 1910 that the Arkansas medical school was inadequate. 

Medical Education at the Old State House: From Flexner to the New Deal
Oct. 13, 2001 – September 2002

Old State House
300 W. Markham St.
Little Rock, AR
Mon.-Sat. – 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Sun. – 1 – 5 p.m.


This historic photograph of the Old State House appears in the exhibit.

Jonathan Wolfe, Ph.D., of the UAMS College of Medicine curated the exhibit at the Old State House, selecting objects such as these for display.

As Dr. Wolfe summarized in text for the exhibit, Flexner reported that the college’s clinical facilities were “hardly more than nominal.”Flexner further noted, “There are no ward visits. The students see no contagious diseases; obstetrical work is precarious; of postmortems there is no mention.” Of laboratory facilities, he critically observed that there was “no museum, no books, no charts, models, etc.” To top those observations, Flexner’s general opinion of the two medical colleges in Arkansas at the time was that “neither has a single redeeming feature.”

The next year the struggling Medical Department merged with a competing private medical college. The chief visible sign of the merger was moving all preclinical medical instruction to the recently vacated Old State House at 300 West Markham Street.

For the next 23 years, students took the first two years of medical instruction within the Old State House. The election of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal legislation of the 1930s finally brought Arkansas funds to build a medical school that would meet all the deficits Flexner noted so acidly in 1910. The institution that moved from the Old State House to its fourth site on McAlmont Street had transformed itself into a modern form.    

“The New Deal provided the means to perfect the vision that had been in the minds of Arkansas’ medical educators since their response to the Flexner report,” Dr. Wolfe wrote. “This exhibit is notable because it is important as we proceed into the future that we build on the work of our past — that we are certain to preserve those things, those papers and those images that constitute the memory of ourselves as UAMS.”  

The Old State House is a museum of the state Department of Arkansas Heritage.

To discuss donating historic objects to the center, contact Margaret Johnson, director, at 501-686-6733.

Links on This Page

Old State House: http://www.oldstatehouse.com/
College of Pharmacy: http://www.uams.edu/cop/default.htm
College of Medicine: http://www.uams.edu/com/
Video: http://www.uams.edu/today/100401/video.htm
Historical Research Center: http://www.library.uams.edu/services/HRC/history.htm
Margaret Johnson: JohnsonMargaretA@uams.edu