Homeopathy in Iowa

5th Floor RCP, near elevator H

The University of Iowa Homeopathic Medical Department (1876-1919)

Homeopathy Defined
What is Homeopathy?  

Homeopathy is a system of medicine that attempts to cure sickness by stimulating the body to recover itself. It is based on two primary beliefs: the Law of Similars and the infinitesimal dose.

Law of Similars: Instead of looking at the symptoms of illness as undesireable, homeopaths see them as signs of the body attempting to heal itself. Therefore, instead of suppressing symptoms, homeopaths give remedies that would cause the same symptoms in a healthy person to stimulate the body's own restorative mechanisms.

Infinitesimal Dose: Homeopathy is also considered a pharmaceutical science. Its substances are made from plants, minerals, animals or chemicals and are diluted carefully in alcohol or water to reach a dose that is up to one part in one million. Small globules of sugar are saturated in the liquid dilution and given to the patient.

Digital photograph of display

58. Case one of exhibit


Timeline of Homeopathy  


Samuel Christian Friedrich Hahnemann began homeopathy with his treatment of cholera in Germany.

1825 - Homeopathy is brought to the United States.

1848 - America's 1st homeopathic school opens in Pennsylvania.

Samuel Christian Friedrich Hahnemann

59. Dr. Christian Frederick Samuel Hahnemann,

Founder of homeopathy.

Courtesy of University of Trevor M. Cook. Samuel Hahnemann: The Founder of Homeopathic Medicine. Great Britain: Thorsons Publishing Limited. 1981.


1870 - Hahnemann Medical Association is established in Iowa.

1871 - Begin the 1st Homeopathic coursework at the University of Iowa.

1872 - 13 local and state organizations and 10,000 people petition Board of Regents for funds to begin UI Homeopathic Medical Department; Board says "no."

1876 - UI Homeopathic Medical Department established.

1877 - Controversy of homeopathic students required to attend regular Medical Department lectures despite contradictions.

1878 - First student graduates from homeopathic department.

Program awarded $1600 to erect a building between Jefferson and Iowa Streets.


1880 - 47 undergraduate and 9 graduate students in program.

Class of 1882  

60. UI Homeopathy Class of 1882
Courtesy of the UI College of Medicine

1883 - Increased academic standards by requiring preliminary exams.

Filed request for $30,000 for homeopathic hospital; denied.

1887 - 2nd request for hospital filed; denied. Rented space for hospital.


1890 - Regents allocate $15,000 for combined homeopathic school building and hospital.

1894 - Hospital saw 139 admissions, 96 outpatients during schoolyear.

61. University of Iowa Homeopathic Medical Building and Hospital

Located at the corner of Jefferson and Dubuque Streets.

Courtesy of University of Iowa Archives

Homeopathy Building  


1895 - New homeopathic hospital opened.

62. Ward no. 2 UI Homeopathic Medical Building
Courtesy of University of Iowa Archives

Ward Two



1900 - Official establishment of College of Homeopatrhic Medicine with 5 professors, 8 assistants, 11 teachers.

22 homeopathic medical colleges in the country.

1908 - W. Max Rohrbacher entered the program.

1910 - Begin decline of homeopathy: graduates dropped, number of colleges nationwide dropped to 15.

1912 - W. Max Rohrbacher graduated with Degree of Dr. of Medicine with 5 other medical students and 3 nurses.

1913 - State legislature refuse health care payments for homeopathic hospital.

1914 - Hospital seeing 600 patients compared to 2,436 at regular hospital

1919 - UI homeopathic hospital closed.


1920 - Dr. Rohrbacher opened his own homeopathic hospital at 811 East College Street in Iowa City.

1929 - UI Homeopathic Hospital building went down in flames.


No more courses in homeopathy taught in the U.S.


Courses taught by National Center for Homeopathy.

Homeopathic institutes located in Canada, Germany and India


Page from Royal's book 63. Pages from Dr. George Royal's Composition Books
no date
Courtesy of University of Iowa Archives
Page from case record 64. Pages from Medical Homeopathic
Case Record

Note Dr. Rohrbacher's name included in several records and the record of Mrs. Rohrbacher's breech birth on January 30, 1917.

Courtesy of University of Iowa Archives