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MGH History


1852 woodblock print of Bulfinch. Source

About this Guide to MGH History

Massachusetts General Hospital is the third-oldest general hospital in the United States, and the first teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School.

The hospital’s establishment was the dream of Rev. John Bartlett, who was Chaplain of Boston’s Almshouse.

On August 20, 1810, Boston physicians Drs. James Jackson and John Collins Warren issued a “circular letter” inviting contributions for the funding of a hospital, and in February, 1811, a charter of incorporation was granted by the Massachusetts Legislature.

Fundraising began, although it was protracted due to the War of 1812 and the financial Panic of 1819. On September 3, 1821, the hospital admitted its first patient into the building that had been designed by Boston architect Charles Bulfinch.

In this guide, you’ll find links to help you learn more about the history of MGH, its buildings and departments, and individuals associated with MGH from 1811 to the present day. Also included are selected resources to help you carry out your own research. Please don’t hesitate to contact us with questions or comments or call 617-726-8605.