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Health Service papers

Identifier: ua00561

Scope and Content

Collection 561 contains annual and biennial reports (1921-1934), clippings, correspondence, policies and procedures, diet tables collected and the on-staff dietitian and materials relating to the construction of the new Health Service building in 1929.

In the 1920s, Dr. Diehl served as chair of the Subcommittee on Mental Hygiene of the University Committee on Educational Research; correspondence and reports of the Subcommittee are enclosed in this collection.

Many people associated with the health service have been engaged in various research projects on medical problems and reports on some of these studies are collected in the Research folder, including Medicinal Treatment of the Common Coldby Dr. Diehl, Experimental Riboflavin Deficiency in Manby Boehrer, Stanford and Ryan, and Nutrition Problems Among College Studentsby John Boehrer.

The religious and dogmatic beliefs of Christian Scientist students caused conflict with the policies of the Students' Health Service, especially during the smallpox epidemic in the 1920s. A petition to exempt the Christian Science students from the obligatory physical examinations and the health fees was presented to the Board of Regents in 1918. The petition, together with other material related to the conflict, is found in the folder, Christian Science.

Ccllection 2005-29 contains correspondence between the Health Service and various University committees and departments during the late 1930's to the mid 1950's, and spans the years that Dr. Ruth Boynton was director. Upon the request of these committees and departments, the Health Service provided expertise and advice on various matters.


  • 1918-2000s


Language of Materials


Use of Materials

Items in this collection do not circulate and may be used in-house only.


Requests for permission to quote from the Students' Health Service papers should be arranged with the University of Minnesota Archives head.

Historical Note

The Students' Health Service at the University of Minnesota was officially organized in 1917 and opened in 1918 on the Minneapolis campus in two fraternity houses vacated during World War I. Additional dormitory space was also provided for the health service on the Agriculture campus.

In the fall of 1918, Spanish influenza struck the University of Minnesota as a result of the influx of students in the Student Army Training Corps. This occurred during the first weeks of the opening of the new health service, taxing its personnel and facilities. 2,000 cases of influenza were reported and twenty deaths occurred. Influenza struck again in 1919-1920. Forty-three cases of smallpox were reported in 1920-1921 leading to a campaign of small-pox vaccinations for students and prompted epidemiological studies with the aid of the state Department of Health. Paratyphoid fever cases that same year proved to result from milk contaminated by an infected employee, leading to the use of only pasteurized milk in sealed bottles.

After the war, returning students requested that the Health Service vacate the fraternity houses. As a result, the first floor of Pillsbury Hall was remodeled and occupied by the Health Service on February 1, 1919.

In 1921, Harold Diehl became the director of the Students' Health Service, replacing John Sundwall. During his first year as director, Diehl appointed two full-time physicians, Drs. Ruth Boynton and William P. Shepard. Their first year of service was devoted to an outbreak of scarlet fever at the School of Agriculture, followed by influenza. Seeing the need for better facilities on the Agricultural campus, the Old Home Building was remodeled for an out-patient department and a new health service building was built on the St. Paul campus in 1939.

An outbreak of smallpox in 1924-1925 in Minneapolis lead to another effort by the Health Service to get its student population vaccinated. 8,000 students received the vaccine and smallpox vaccinations then became part of the University's entrance requirement.

By 1925, the problem of new quarters for the rapidly growing health service on the Minneapolis campus was becoming a very real one. It was debated whether Jones Hall could be used for health service purposes, with the final decision being to build a new wing of the University Hospital. Construction was completed in 1929. Nicknamed "The Pill Box", the new building allowed for additional health services for both students and employees of the University.

Besides conducting physical examinations, some of the other duties of the Health Service included supervising sanitation of swimming pools, inspecting and rating rooming houses, inspecting eating places on or near campus, and offering courses in hygiene and public health.

In 1936, Dr. Ruth Boynton became the director of the Students' Health Service, developing a comprehensive health program in preventive medicine that included pre-employment examinations for nonacademic employees, later extending it to academic staff. A dietitian was employed to study and assist students with nutrition. During World War II, servicemen assigned to the University for military training were also given medical care by the Students' Health Service.

In 1950, a new health service building was built on the Minneapolis campus with a wing added in 1959. Ruth Boynton retired as director in 1961 and in 1975 the Students' Health Service was renamed Boynton Health Service.

Notes taken from Masters of Medicine: An Historical Sketch of the College of Medical Sciences, University of Minnesota, by J. Arthur Myers, Warren H. Green, Inc., St. Louis, Missouri, 1968.


2 boxes (2.5 cubic feet)


Collection contains the papers of the Students' Health Service at the University of Minnesota.

Other Finding Aid Available

A finding aid with a contents list is available in University Archives.

Source of acquisition

The collection was deposited in University Archives by Dr. Ruth Boynton on October 21, 1953.

Related Materials in University of Minnesota Archives

Ruth E. Boynton papers

Guy Stanton Ford papers

University of Minnesota. Comptroller papers

University of Minnesota. Office of the Dean of Students papers

Myers, J. Arthur. Masters of Medicine: An Historical Sketch of the College of Medical Sciences, University of Minnesota, 1888-1966. Warren H. Green, Inc., St. Louis, Missouri, 1968, Chapter XXXI.

Health Service papers, 1918-1943
Karen Klinkenberg
July 2005
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Collecting Area Details

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