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Office of Medical History and Archives

The Office of Medical History and Archives collects and preserves materials that document the history of the University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS). It also supports historical research, teaching, and other activities that highlight the history of UMMS and the history of American medicine and health care.

Office of Medical History and Archives

The University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS) was established in 1962, a period during which national concern over a potential shortage of physicians was reinforced by a new commitment to greater health care access for the underserved. Many states, including Massachusetts, sought to address the perceived shortages and undoubted maldistribution of health care professionals by opening new, publicly-funded medical schools. They also intended to provide their citizens with access to affordable, high quality medical education. In a state like Massachusetts, where high quality, private medical schools were abundant, few opportunities existed for the local student of moderate means. As a result, in spite of concerted opposition from the private medical schools in Boston, the state's only publicly funded medical school, the University of Massachusetts Medical School, received its charter. Under the leadership of its first dean, Dr. Lamar Soutter, the school opened in 1970 without even waiting for construction of a new building. The first class of sixteen students met with faculty in a former distribution center for candy, cigarettes, and other sundries, formerly owned by the H. E. Shaw Company. Today UMMS ranks high in the nation in primary care education, and is a leading center for research and community service.