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Medical School (Anatomy) 1854-1890

CORYDON LA FORD was born August 29, 1813, on a farm in Green County, New York. In early youth he was crippled by the paralysis of one leg and was thus disqualified for physical labor. When seventeen years old he became a teacher in the common schools and continued in this work with some interruptions for eight years. He was twenty-one years of age when he left the parental home with a medical education in view, and six years were yet to elapse before he was able to enroll himself in a medical college. He continued to teach school, and made a beginning of reading medicine in the offices of local physicians. He also entered Canandaigua Academy and there completed his general education. A physician whose friendship he won at this juncture aided him in entering Geneva Medical College. Here he earned his livelihood by acting as librarian and curator of the Museum. On the day of his graduation in 1842 he was appointed demonstrator of Anatomy in the College, thus beginning a career of fifty-two years devoted, without interruption, to teaching medicine. His advancement to more important positions was rapid. In 1847 he was appointed demonstrator of Anatomy in the Medical Department of the University of Buffalo, and while holding this position he was also Professor of Anatomy in the Castleton Medical College, Vermont. In 1854 he was called to the professorship of Anatomy in the University of Michigan, and here he taught for forty years. His reputation as a lecturer on Anatomy was widespread and drew increasing numbers of students to the Medical Department.  During the year 1879-1880 he served as Dean of the Faculty.  He was in the habit of following up the year’s work at Ann Arbor with lectures given at other institutions during the spring and summer, until the lengthening of the term at Ann Arbor made this impossible.  In this way he gave several courses at Berkshire Medical College and in the Medical College of Maine; and for eighteen years he was Professor of Anatomy in Long Island College Hospital.  The Degree of Master of Arts was conferred upon him by Middlebury College in 1859, and the degree of Doctor of Laws by the University of Michigan in 1881.  He and his wife bequeathed to the University the Ford-Messer Fund of twenty  thousand dollars as a perpetual endowment of the General Library. He died at Ann Arbor, April 14, 1894. (See page 46.)


Burke A. Hinsdale and Isaac Newton Demmon, History of the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1906), pp. 228-29.