The University of Kansas Medical Center had its origins in the late 19th century. In 1889, a one-year preparatory course for medical school was begun at the main campus in Lawrence. Students who completed the year then transferred to other medical schools. The curriculum was lengthened to two years in 1899.
By 1905, clinical instruction had begun at the first Bell Memorial Hospital, which was built with funds and land donated by a Kansas City physician and entrepreneur, Simeon B. Bell. The first Bell Memorial Hospital contained 35 beds and was adjoined by two dispensary buildings. It was located about one mile north of the present campus. By 1924, the school and hospital had moved to a new site (the Medical Center's current location) to accommodate needs for expansion.
Since then, the Medical Center's facilities have been continually updated and expanded to keep abreast of the most current teaching and treatment techniques. The $5.5 million basic science facility, Orr Major Hall, was dedicated in 1976. The 850,000 square feet University of Kansas Hospital was completed in 1979, bringing nearly all diagnostic and treatment facilities of the Medical Center under one roof. To further meet the needs of cancer patients, a radiation therapy center and Cancer Center have also been recently constructed .
The 57,000 square foot Archie R. Dykes Library of Health Sciences, which opened in 1983, contains more than 152,000 volumes and 2,000 journals in the biomedical and related health sciences. Computer searches of more than 100 health related data bases are available to students and faculty. The Clendening Library houses the History of Medicine Collection which is one of the top five such collections in the country.