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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Quiz Sessions 1894

As Esther Clayson entered her final term at the University of Oregon Medical Department in 1894 she and her colleagues at the UOMD and at the Willamette University Medical Department, then in Portland, were preparing for final examinations and graduation. Apparently some students had the extra money to invest in the late 19th century equivalent of the various exam prep courses available to 21st century students. The presence of these quiz sessions suggests the competitive atmosphere among students and graduates for good scores and additional credentialing and positions in the period.

At least two groups of Portland physicians advertised in Esther’s graduation year of 1894 for weekly quiz sessions across all subjects. “Quiz Masters” Drs. H.R. Holmes, professor of gynecology at the Willamette Medical Department, W. L. Wood, E.N. Wilson, and W.F. Amos comprised one group, and Drs. G. F. Koehler and E. F. Tucker, special lecturers at the University of Oregon Medical Department in anatomy and gynecology respectively, organized another.

No evidence exists that Esther Clayson participated in the quiz sessions. She had taken off a year to work in department stores to pay tuition fees and, in addition, Portland and the nation were in the midst of a severe economic depression in 1894. So having money for extra sessions seems unlikely. Perhaps the physician “quiz masters” were particularly in need of the extra fees from tutoring that year.


“College Quiz,” Medical Sentinel 2 no. 1 (January 1894): xvi.

“Quizzing,” Medical Sentinel 2 no. 1 (January 1894): xviii.

“Faculty of Medicine,” Seventh Annual Announcement of the Medical Department of the University of Oregon, Session of 1893-94 (Portland: A. Anderson Printers, 1893), 4

“Horatio Reese Holmes, M.D.,” Transactions of the American Gynecological Society 22 (1897):310-12.