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July 8, 1908

July 8, 2008 |  7:38 am

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Dropcap_m_1912 arion Jones died with a secret--and a lot of medical bills ($2,308.64 for doctors' visits in 2007 dollars). She died owing $29.45 ($647.52 USD 2007), so she was turned over to the medical school at USC to be dissected by the students.

Her former employer said she was a well-educated and refined woman who concealed her identity so her family wouldn't discover she was working as a housekeeper. When he learned that she had died, he recovered her body from the dissection lab, paid her hospital bill and had her buried at Grand View Cemetery in Glendale.

Those who have the inclination and a strong stomach should look into Abraham Flexner's "Medical Education in the United States and Canada," done for the Carnegie Foundation.

Flexner visited all 10 medical schools in California in 1909 in a scathing survey of current practices that led to significant reforms. Although Flexner was somewhat critical of USC's medical college, he was far more severe on other schools. He wrote of California Medical College:

"The school occupies a few neglected rooms on the second floor of a fifty-foot frame building. Its so-called quipment is dirty and disorderly beyond description. Its outfit in anatomy consists of a small box of bones and the dried-up filthy fragments of a single cadaver. A few bottles of reagents constitute the chemical laboratory. A cold and rusty incubator, a single microscope and a few unlabeled wet speciments, etc., form the so-called "equipment" for pathology and bacteriology."

"This school is a disgrace to the state whose laws permit its existence."

Another good resource on medical history in Los Angeles is the Jan. 31, 1946, edition of the Los Angeles County Medical Assn. Bulletin, which covers the group's first 75 years.

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