Five centuries of veterinary history are on display at Washington State University
Dr. J. Fred Smithcors began donating his extensive collection of more than a thousand printed books, pamphlets, manuscripts to WSU in the late 70’s. The collection has now grown to almost 1,900 items dating from the 16th to the 20th century.
Considered one of the finest collections devoted to the history of veterinary medicine, the WSU collection contains such landmark works as “Anatomia del Cavallo” (1707) by Carlo Ruini, considered the father of equine anatomy; Andrew Snape’s “Anatomy of an Horse” (1683); and George Stubbs’ folio, “The Anatomy of the Horse” (1766). Smithcors also collected the earliest American imprints on veterinary topics, including multiple editions of “The Citizen and Countryman’s Experienced Farrier” (1764)
In 1955, while on the faculty of Michigan State University, Smithcors developed the first course in veterinary history to be taught at any school or college of veterinary medicine in the United States. As a visiting professor to the Pullman campus, he lectured on veterinary history every fall from 1978 until 1998.
He was founder and first president of the American Veterinary Medical History Society (AVMHS), which honored him by creating the Smithcors History of Veterinary Medicine Symposium in 2013. The AVMHS also sponsors an annual essay contest in Smithcors’ name, open to all DVM students currently enrolled in veterinary colleges in the United States, Canada and West Indies.