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Middlesex University collection

Identifier: 04-MWalB00218A

Scope and Contents

The materials in these files were created from 1915 to 2001.  The collection consists of correspondence, essays, articles, reports, cash books, and court case materials.  Other items include official course catalogues, commencement programs, yearbooks, magazines, photographs, and news clippings.  A large portion of the collection documents communication among Middlesex Board of Trustees members and discussions between the Board and the Albert Einstein Foundation and the American Medical Association.  A considerable amount of administrative records were most likely lost in a 1936 fire in the administration building.  Most of the correspondence from the Board of Trustees and the American Medical Association dates from 1937 onward.

This collection has research relevance in many subject areas such as the history of medicine, medical school quotas, ethnicity and race in medical education, women and medical education, and Jewish genealogy.


  • 1915-2001, undated

Conditions Governing Access

Some material is restricted, please consult the University Archivist. Access to the collection is in accordance with the policies of the Robert D. Farber University Archives & Special Collections Department, Brandeis University. Please contact the department for more information.

Conditions Governing Use

Requests to reproduce or publish material from the collection should be directed to the Robert D. Farber University Archives & Special Collections Department, Brandeis University.

Biographical or Historical Information

In the first half of the 20th century, Middlesex University was known as a university founded on the principles of equality, freedom, and scholarship, as the school maintained a student population diverse in race, color, and religion, during a time when many universities in the United States had quotas and were not as open.  The early foundations of Middlesex University were formed in 1850 when the Worcester Medical College became authorized to grant medical degrees.  During the American Civil War, the Worcester Medical College continued as a hospital, but stopped its operations as a medical college.  The college remained closed until 1914 when John Hall Smith, a member of the Board of  Trustees for the Medical College, led a successful drive to reopen the school.  Medical instruction began in 1914 in Cambridge.  As the location of the school changed, the school was renamed the Middlesex College of Medicine and Surgery, using Middlesex Hospital in Cambridge.  In 1917, the University of Massachusetts was chartered by the state legislature and became affiliated with Middlesex College.  The schools had a joint Board of Trustees. As Middlesex College began to grow, John Hall Smith chose a site in Waltham, what is today the Brandeis campus, to accommodate the college's expansion.  The Castle was built in 1928 and was the main building of instruction on campus, containing classrooms, labs, and lecture rooms.  In 1935, the Middlesex College of Medicine and Surgery changed its name to the Middlesex College, as the state legislature allowed for the school to confer degrees of Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science.  In 1937, the Middlesex College and the University of Massachusetts merged to become Middlesex University.  Prior to World War II, Middlesex offered instruction in the schools of medicine, liberal arts, pharmacy, podiatry, and veterinary medicine. For many years Middlesex University had difficulty gaining accreditation from the American Medical Association (AMA).  New legislation passed in 1944 required doctors to have graduated from an AMA-approved university in order to be licensed.  According to the AMA, Middlesex, among other problems, lacked the sufficient funds, facilities, and faculty needed to gain accreditation.  Controversy surrounded this AMA decision regarding Middlesex, and some at the university accused the AMA of antisemitism.  Many Middlesex students and faculty members were Jewish, and the university maintained a racially and religiously diverse community.  The lack of AMA accreditation, combined with declining enrollment due to the Second World War, doomed the university.  As the war drew to a close, Middlesex found itself in a grave financial situation and faced the prospect of shutting down completely. The University's situation caught the attention of the Albert Einstein Foundation, which was looking for an opportunity to establish a Jewish-sponsored, non-sectarian school based strictly upon merit and open to the entire world, regardless of race, color, or religion. These ideals mirrored Middlesex's own principles, and the trustees of the troubled school decided to transfer the university's charter and property in 1946.  The new institution became Brandeis University, which opened its doors in the fall of 1948.


58.00 Linear Feet (25 record center boxes, 42 manuscript boxes, 6 clamshell boxes, 2 small clamshell boxes, 1 small square box)

Language of Materials


Custodial History

The materials in this collection have been donated from various sources, including alumni of the university, however a good deal of the material has been donated by Charles Ruggles Smith, the son of the founder, John Hall Smith. Other materials were donated by individual alumni of Middlesex University. Alumni records have been transferred from the Office of the Registrar over time. Addendum donated in Spring 2002 by Howard Smith, Willard Hausman, and Bill Bowan Boxes 6 and 7 were transferred by Helene Greenberg (GSAS) on July 19, 2010.

Accruals and Additions

Campus map folder added to this collection on 03/23/04 by A.D. Collection has unprocessed addenda.

Processing Information

Student records: graduates of the School of Medicine have been separated from non-graduates and geneaologist Victor Berch has researched their immediate ancestries. The student files contain this new information.

Derek Jackson, updated by Jessica Vincent
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Repository Details

Part of the Brandeis University Repository

415 South St.
Waltham MA

About Us

The Robert D. Farber University Archives & Special Collections Department at Brandeis University consists of two collecting units, the University Archives and Special Collections. University Archives documents the history and development of Brandeis University and its faculty, staff, students, and alumni. Special Collections features a broad array of unique primary source materials across a wide range of disciplines that support research, teaching and learning at Brandeis. Learn more about our collections