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Friday, January 7, 2011

Why is there no Veterinary College in New York City?

By Dr. Donald F. Smith, Cornell University
Posted January 7, 2011 (reposted July 9, 2012).

This historical blog is in recognition of the 150th anniversary 
of the American Veterinary Medical Association (1863-2013).

Veterinary medicine is filled with strange anecdotes and quirks of history. For example:
  • What happened to the four veterinary colleges that once existed in New York City – and the ones in Chicago, Washington, San Francisco and many other cities?
  • When and why did veterinary colleges separate from medical schools and move to the country?
  • Why did the veterinary profession almost collapse between 1920 and 1925, when much of the rest of the country was experiencing the “Roaring Twenties”?
  • Why did Cornell’s veterinary college―that had a written policy of favoring farm boys over city boys―admit a larger proportion of urban-raised Jews during the 1930s than the medical college at Cornell and the most prominent undergraduate colleges of the period?
  • Why did the veterinary colleges at Harvard University and New York University (which had state funding) both close?
         These and many other questions are answered in an article on the history of veterinary medicine just published in the Journal of Veterinary Medical Education. [J Vet Med Educ 37 (4) p 317-327]. Based in large part from first person interviews with veterinarians (or close family members) who graduated in the 1920s and 1930s, this article provides answers to many questions that have never even previously been asked.
         This is the first in a series that summarizes the content of a course in veterinary history that I teach for veterinary students at Cornell. Three more articles have since been published and they describe the progress in veterinary education to the present. 

An abstract of the first article can be located at
A full copy can be obtained from the publisher, library access, or by contacting me at the address below.

Dr. Smith invites comments at