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Winchester Medical College Collection

Stewart Bell Jr. Archives
Handley Regional Library
Winchester-Frederick County Historical Society

P.O. Box 58, Winchester, VA 22604
(540) 662-9041 ext. 17


Inventory created by Archives Staff 11/1978. Last revised 04/2018.

ACCESS RESTRICTIONS: Collection is open to all researchers.

USE RESTRICTIONS: Restrictions may apply concerning the use, photoduplication, or publication of items in this collection. Consult a member of the archives staff for information concerning these restrictions. The user assumes all responsibility for identifying and satisfying any claimants of copyright.

EXTENT: 0.21 linear feet

DATE: 1826-1994

SCOPE AND CONTENT: The Winchester Medical College Collection includes catalogs, announcements, histories, and news articles pertaining to the college.

BIOGRAPHICAL/HISTORICAL: The medical college of Winchester, Virginia was chartered in 1826 as the “Medical College of the Valley of Virginia” under the direction of Dr. John Esten Cooke, Dr. Hugh Holmes McGuire, and Dr. A.F. Magill.  The college operated for two years and was closed until 1847 when it was revived and newly chartered by the Commonwealth as the Winchester Medical College. The College was a red brick structure located on the corner of Stewart and Boscawen Streets. It had a surgical amphitheater, two lecture halls, a dissecting room, a chemical laboratory, a museum, and offices.

The history of the Medical College is closely entwined with history of Winchester during the Civil War. A student and later faculty member of the College was Hunter Holmes McGuire, who would become a surgeon in the Confederate Army and medical director to General Thomas Jackson’s staff.

One of the more infamous episodes in the College’s history took place shortly after John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry in 1859. Students from the college took the bodies of John Copeland and Shields Green, two African-Americans executed after the raid, the remains of Brown’s son, Watson, and those of Jeremiah Anderson, both of whom had died in the raid, and used them for dissection and teaching purposes.

The College served as a hospital during the Civil War. In May 1862, Union forces set fire to the building while they occupied Winchester during the Valley Campaign, purportedly on the orders of General Nathanial Banks and as retribution for the theft and dissection of Brown’s body. The College burned to the ground and was not rebuilt. However, in 1881, a new house was built over the College’s foundation.

RELATED MATERIAL: Hunter Holmes McGuire Collection, 956 THL

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Kinney, A. Bentley. “A Skeleton’s Revenge: The Burning of the Winchester Medical College.” Winchester-Frederick County Historical Society Journal 7 (1993): 33-50; Dawn Dobersztyn, “Time to Check Out: After 50 years, last tourist home in the area will close its door,” Northern Virginia Daily, October 16, 1998.

CITE AS: Winchester Medical College Collection, 190 WFCHS/THL, Stewart Bell Jr. Archives, Handley Regional Library, Winchester, VA, USA.




Catalogues and announcements, 1859-1861, 3 items: 21 leaves printed (photocopy)

Conservation of Health, Past, Present, and Prospective in Winchester and Its Environs, 2 items, printed

General Assembly actions, 1826 and 1847, 7 leaves printed (photocopy)

Histories of Winchester Medical College: 5 items: 4 leaves printed (photocopy); 4 leaves typescript; 4 leaves typescript (copy)

“Winchester Medical History,” by Mrs. Leslie Bell, delivered to Jr. Century Club, 1952, 13 leaves, typescript

McGuire correspondence, 1880 and 1884, 4 leaves, manuscript (photocopy); 1 leaf, manuscript on printed form

Magazine Articles (folder includes the following):

“A Journey to Virginia in December, 1859,” by James Monroe; article in Oberlin Thursday Lectures, Addresses and Essays, Oberlin, Ohio, 1897, 1 item, printed (photocopy)
“John Brown and Oberlin,” by Robert S. Fletcher, article in The Oberlin Alumni Magazine, Volume 28, No.5, February, 1932, 1 item printed (photocopy)
“Winchester Medical College,” by Dr. William McGuire, editorial in the Virginia Medical Monthly, Volume 48, No.1, April 1921, 1 item printed, 8 pages, 1 copy (photocopy), 3 leaves
“The Winchester Medical College, Winchester, Virginia, 1827-1862,” by Dr. Abner H. Cook, article in The Medical Pickwick, Volume IV, No. 1, January, 1918, 1 item, printed (photocopy)
The Medical Pickwick, January 1918, 1 item printed
“The Winchester Medical College – William P. McGuire, M.D.,” reprint from Surgery, Gynecology, and Obstetrics, April 1937, Vol. 64, pages 841-842, 8 copies, 7 pages, printed
News articles: 1790, 1811, 1981, 1994, 5 leaves, printed (photocopy); 2 leaves, typescript
Dawn Dobersztyn, “Time to Check Out: After 50 years, last tourist home in the area will close its door,” Nothern Virginia Daily, October 16, 1998, 1 item, printed (photocopy)