Until late in the nineteenth century, American medical students purchased medical admission tickets in order to attend lectures and demonstrations. Tickets for entire sessions of medical school could be purchased in a packet or students could purchase individual tickets directly from professors. The revenue obtained from ticket fees often formed a portion of the income of faculty.
The digital images in this collection are the medical admission tickets used by Dr. Samuel Worcester Butler (1823-1874) who attended the Department of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania from 1848 through 1850. The packet was purchased by the Coy C. Carpenter Library in the late 1980's. There are lecture tickets for sessions 1848-49 and 1849-50. The curriculum required students to take each course twice. In addition, there are tickets to attend instruction at other institutions in the region: Wills' Hospital, the Medical Institute of Philadelphia, and the Pennsylvania Hospital. Also included are tickets for matriculation, examinations, office instruction, and lecture schedules. A letter from the Secretary of the Committee on Gratuitous Medical Tickets addressed to Dr. William E. Horner, Dean of the Medical Faculty, indicates the decision of the committee to grant Butler gratuitous tickets.
In practice, Dr. Butler was an alienist (alienist was an early term for psychiatrist). He served as the superintendent physician of the department for the insane of the Philadelphia Almshouse. Dr. Butler also participated in medical literature serving as the editor of the Medical and Surgical Reporter.
On several of the tickets, Dr. Butler is said to be of Cherokee Nation. His father was Dr. Elizur Butler, a physician and missionary to the Cherokees.
For more information on Samuel Worcester Butler, medical admission tickets, and medical education in the nineteenth century, consult the sources used for this webpage available in the Carpenter Library: