Lane Library

San Francisco Earthquake, 18 April 1906

The devastating earthquake of 18 April, followed by a great fire that destroyed most of San Francisco, caused city-wide property loss estimated at over $500,000,000. It also resulted in temporary paralysis of business and prolonged impairment of public confidence. From such calamities all enterprises, pecuniary and beneficent as well as educational and social must necessarily suffer.

After the catastrophe the College Buildings were still largely functional and the American National Red Cross was provided the use of Lane Hall for its activities. On the other hand, the effect on Lane Hospital was severe. Hospital services were interrupted by earthquake damage to the hospital building which cut off water supply and power, heat and light. This together with the general consternation which prevailed caused the removal of nearly all the patients from Lane Hospital, most of them being admitted to the U. S. Hospital at the Presidio and Harbor View where they were well cared for by the officers in charge there, aided by the efficient and self-sacrificing services of Lane Medical Staff and the Nurses from Lane Hospital Training School.

The net result was marked temporary loss of patient income which, in addition to costly building repairs, put a serious strain on the budget of the College. It was of special significance that the disaster occurred at a time when income from student fees was declining and annual budget shortfalls were beginning to occur. These circumstances heightened the interest of the Directors in a liaison with Stanford. [25] [26] [27] [28]

Fortunately, Lane Hospital was repaired and its occupancy rate revived during the year following the disaster so that Dr. Taylor, the Acting President of the College, was able to report at the Annual Meeting for the year ending 30 June 1907 that receipts of $ 90,000 during the year had exceeded expenditures of $79,000 by $11,000. [29]

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President Ellinwood Opposes the Lane Medical Lectures

John C. McVail, M. D., D. P. H. , of Glasgow, Scotland, had been invited to give the annual Lane Medical Lectures on 20 August 1906. Upon hearing of the great earthquake and fire, Dr. McVail. wrote to President Ellinwood expressing sympathy for the great loss suffered by San Francisco, and enquiring whether local conditions were such as to warrant giving the course of Lane Lectures this year.

At the meeting of the Directors on 9 May 1906 President Ellinwood read Dr. McVail's letter to the Directors and seriously questioned the advisability of giving the lectures: [30]

In view of the conditions which obtain here and must obtain necessarily during the next three months, I am convinced it would be wise to suspend the Lane Course of Medical Lectures one year because of these conditions. I see the failure of the course to produce the effect we normally hope for and I believe it would be better to suspend the course than to have only a partial success. I am simply one of this Board. If the Board decides to give this course I shall do all in my power to make it a success.

Dr. Rixford reported that the Directors strongly opposed having an hiatus in the lectures, claiming that even if the audience should be small the lectures would probably be enough of a success to warrant their being given. The lectures were given and though the audience was not more than half the usual size, the lectures were appreciated and in the opinions of several whom he consulted they could not be called a failure. [31]

In his Annual Report for the year ending 30 June 1906 President Ellinwood made the following reassuring statement regarding the future of the Lane Medical Lectures: [32]

The Lane Course of Medical Lectures was inaugurated by Dr. Lane in 1895 and the honorarium of the lecturer was paid by Dr. Lane during the several years prior to his death. Apparently from his announcements he intended to provide in his will for the continued payment of the honorarium of the Lane Lecturer but he omitted to do so.

For the past several years (including the lectures by Dr. McVail to begin on 20 August 1906) it has been my pleasure to meet this expense and I hope that in the near future I may be able to make a permanent endowment for this course in honor of Dr. Lane for the advancement of the Science and Art of Medicine and the welfare of Cooper Medical College.

Chronology of Lane Course of Medical Lectures [33]
Year Lecturer Topic Expenses Paid by
1896 MacEwen Brain Dr. Lane
1897 Heath Aneurism Dr. Lane
1898 Allbutt Heart Dr. Lane
1899 Senn Gen. Surg Dr. Lane
1900 Foster Physiology Dr. Lane
1901 Morris Dermatology Dr. Lane
1902 Ball Rectal Dis Lane Estate
1903 Allis Joints Ellinwood
1904 Welch Infection Ellinwood
1905 Manson Trop Dis Ellinwood
1906 McVail Prev Med Ellinwood

(Note: The Lane Lectures were not held during the years 1907 through 1909, but were resumed in 1910 with the support of an endowment, the Lane Lecture Fund, under which they have continued to the present day. )

In spite of President Ellinwood's encouraging remark in his Annual Report for 1905-1906 about a "permanent endowment" for the Lane Medical Lectures, the other Directors were increasingly impatient with his failure to make a specific commitment of funds from his Lane bequest to endow the Lectures. A crucial meeting of the Board of Directors was convened on 20 October 1906 to address the issue. Those present were President Ellinwood, and Drs. Taylor, Gibbons and Stillman. Drs.. Barkan and Rixford were absent. [34]

The President brought up for discussion the subject of a summer course for Post Graduate Instruction in Cooper Medical College, urging the advisability of the same and offering to pay the expenses for a lecturer on Tropical Diseases and another in Anatomy if the plan met with approval.

The matter was discussed but no actions were taken, it being the general opinion that the matter should first be laid before the Faculty.

The President then brought up the subject of the Lane Medical Lectures. He stated that in his opinion the course was a failure and that instead of being an advantage to the school, he regarded it as a positive disadvantage; and that he felt discouraged in attempting the course in 1907; that he had protested against the course being given in the present year, but that in deference to the wishes of the balance of the directors he had consented to it and had done what he could to make a success of it and had given the money to pay for it, but that he did not feel disposed to do so any more.

Director Gibbons stated that it was not a matter of options with the President, that Dr. Lane had founded the Course and had caused to be placed on a slab in the lecture hall the statement that the course had been endowed by him, and had imposed upon the Directors the duty of selecting the lecturers and that furthermore the President had himself stated that it was the intention of Mrs. Lane that the endowment should be provided out of the sale of the Broadway property.

The President stated that whatever Dr. Lane may have intended, he had failed to provide for the endowment as he had stated in his Annual Report and he said "furthermore I will do in this matter exactly as I please, so you might as well understand it right now. If it is the wish of the Directors to provide such a course they must provide the means to pay for it, there was no money given to me for that purpose."

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Dr. Rixford's Personal Notes
26 December 1906 [35]

Subsequent to the Directors' Meeting of 20 October 1906, a private meeting was held at Dr. Taylor's home. Those present were Taylor, Gibbons, Stillman and myself (Rixford). Dr. Barkan was absent in Europe. Our purpose was to determine whether the present unsatisfactory state of things could longer be endured. Dr. Taylor called attention to the fact that Dr. E's attitude as expressed by him toward the use of the Lane money for College purposes had materially changed during the last three years - that at first he had promised to endow the Lane Lectures out of the proceeds of sale of the Broadway and Scott street lot - and that the remainder of the 2/3 should go to the Library. Little by little as we (the Directors) had let him slip by, he had retracted one promise after another and now had refused point blank to continue to provide for the Lane Medical Lectures or to carry out their endowment.

Dr. Gibbons was of the opinion that the present state of uncertainty could not continue - he read a statement of the various incidents that have happened in this matter - accusing Dr. E. of hoodwinking his associates with one pretext and another to the end that he might keep all the 2/3 of the Lane estate. Dr. Stillman said he was unwilling to continue longer to put himself in so humiliating a position as he was forced to as a member of the Directors of Cooper College.

It was therefore agreed that Dr. Taylor should at the next meeting ask Dr. E. to once and for all make clear his intentions in regard to the Lane Money, Dr. Ellinwood refusing, Dr. Gibbons to read his paper which was in the nature of a personal arraignment.

I am greatly troubled as to what is right to do. Dr. Barkan is away - and an unwarrantedly large responsibility rests on me. I pointed out at this meeting that if we carry out this plan and refuse longer to cooperate with Dr. Ellinwood - to put him out of the Presidency - we would play into his hands if he desired to keep the money and would make it practically impossible for him to give any of Dr. Lane's fortune to the purposes which we all know were dear to him. Dr. Stillman said: "Of course we know that but the School without Ellinwood is better off than if it had all of Lane's money with Ellinwood as President." It seems to me now that we ought to have a clear statement from Dr. E. and that it would be right to ask for it. I certainly shall insist that no demand be sprung without his being given time to answer. I think we ought to demand the continuance of the Lane Medical Lectures till it is definitely evident that they are a failure whereupon the money ought to go to some other perhaps similar purpose for the benefit of the College, and I shall act accordingly.

It has been said by many men in the Directorate and Faculty that the College is suffering because of the retention of Dr. E. in the Presidency. Dr. William Fitch Cheney (Professor of Medicine and Secretary of the Faculty) said to me he would have resigned long ago had he not felt it his duty to remain because of his honor and obligation to Dr. Lane. Dr. Hirschfelder (Professor of Clinical Medicine) whom I consulted said he desired to bolster up my hands in bringing the matter of the moneys to a focus - that he was convinced that Dr. E. intended to keep the money. Dr. George B. Somers (Professor of Gynecology) said to me that he thought we as Directors ought to demand a full statement of his intentions and in event of its not being satisfactory to discontinue Dr. E. as President.

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Directors' Meeting, 9 January 1907

The now urgent subject of Dr. Ellinwood's stewardship of the Lane bequest was next addressed at this meeting of the Directors. Those present were President Ellinwood, and Drs. Taylor, Gibbons, Stillman and Rixford. Dr. Barkan was still in Europe. [36]

Director Taylor asked Dr. Ellinwood whether he intended to endow the Lane Medical Lectures and also whether he intended to make such contribution to the Lane Medical Library as would enable the Corporation to erect and maintain such a library as would be of a memorial character in honor of Doctor and Mrs. Lane.

Dr. Ellinwood in reply as to the Lane Medical Lectures referred the members of the Board to his last annual report as President and asked that that be read, which was done.

Dr. Taylor then drew Dr. Ellinwood's attention to his statements in regard to the Lane Medical Lectures as disclosed by the minutes of the meeting of 20 October 1906. Dr. Ellinwood then stated that the minutes did not correctly state what he had said and that he wished the minutes to be corrected so as to show that his statements in regard to the Lane Medical Lectures were limited entirely to the year 1907. The Board thereupon having refused to change the minutes of October 20th deeming the minutes to be a correct statement of what took place at said meeting, Dr. Ellinwood was given permission to make such statement of what took place at the meeting above mentioned according to his own recollection and to have said statement spread upon the minutes.

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Dr. Rixford's Personal Notes
15 January 1907

The following are Dr. Rixford's recollections of the Directors' meeting held six days previously on 9 January: [37]

At the meeting of the Directors held January 9th, Dr. E. R. Taylor, after stating the unsatisfactory condition of affairs in the College with reference to the Lane Lectures and Library, demanded of Dr. Ellinwood on behalf of the Directors a clear and unequivocal statement of his position and his intentions in the matter of the Lane Lectures and Library.

Dr. Ellinwood replied that he had stated in his Annual Report that he hoped to endow the Lane Medical Lectures. He denied having made the statement read from the minutes to the effect that the Lane Lectures were a failure. He said that his statement referred only to the lectures of 1906, and that he had not refused to furnish money for the lectures of 1907. He demanded that the minutes be corrected, and he finally asked each one present in turn whether he felt competent to interpret the wishes of Mrs. Lane - to which Dr. Gibbons said "no." Dr. Taylor said "yes;" that he had talked with her enough about them. I said I did not feel called upon to answer such a question and Dr. Stillman said he knew she wanted a library to be built - a memorial library. "For which she gave the College 1/3 of her estate" interjected Dr. Ellinwood, "and which" said Dr. Stillman "the one-third will not pay for janitor service, light and heat after the building is built."

A day or two later Dr. Gibbons asked that we write out a statement of the facts that have transpired in this matter in the form of resolutions. This I have done tonight. It fills four letter pages of typewriting.

Lane Library