Date of Award


First Advisor

Sue Mechanic-Meyers

Second Advisor

Monshin Paul Naamon


The goal of this thesis is to examine the history and foundations of veterinary medicine through the ages and in two different countries, France and the United States. Animal medicine can be traced back to the earliest civilizations, where it was practiced in much the same way as human medicine. The first organized system of veterinary medicine occurred during the Roman Empire, but fell apart with the fall of the empire. Veterinary medicine, particularly as it applied to horses, was kept alive during the Dark Ages by the Arab Empire, and made a slow return to Europe during the Renaissance and Classical periods. The first successful veterinary schools were the École Nationale Vétérinaire de Lyons, founded in 1761, and the École Nationale Vétérinaire d’Alfort, founded in 1765. Graduates of these schools spread their methods to other countries, and some came to the United States, where the western expansion and war efforts pushed the need for healthy horses. Although private veterinary colleges were established early, all failed by the arrival of World War I. The earliest successful school was the Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine, which opened in 1879. The thesis ends with a short report of current veterinary demographics, including the rise of women in the field, and the process through which students in both countries become practicing veterinarians. Different specializations will also be briefly explored. The scope of this thesis was cut down due to personal injury, and although it will be short, I intend to continue in this vein in the future by translating one of the primary texts used in this thesis in order to make it available to veterinary students in the United States.