Homeopathy Papers

The Beginnings of Homeopathy in California

Written by Iman Navab

A discussion of the the beginnings of Homeopathy in California

Homeopathic practice had been established on the east coast of the United States some 20 years before it arrived in California. In the 1880 edition of the Catalogue of all Physicians and Surgeons of the State of California, (San Francisco, Geo. Spaulding, 1880-81), the section titled “Homoeopathic Physicians” lists 146 physicians.

Under the law of 1876 each medical society created a Board of Examiners to determine the competency of its members. Homeopaths were approved to practice in California by the Board of Examiners of the California State Medical Society of Homoepathic Practitioners. By 1889 the total number of registered homeopathic physicians reached 423 (61 of whom practiced in San Francisco), and by 1899, they were 774.

In January of 1881, several homeopaths gathered in the office of Dr. J. Albertson in San Francisco, to establish a homeopathic medical school to provide access to the discipline in California and the west coast. Financial difficulties prevented the wish from being fulfilled until several years later, in 1883, when four San Francisco homeopaths, F. Canney, J. Eckel, C. Currier and William Boericke (of the well-known Philadelphia homeopathy family) took up the challenge, and made an appeal to the community for support for the project.

The first meeting of the faculty of the Homeopathic Medical College of San Francisco took place on September 25, 1883. The first class of 16 students met June 3rd, 1884, and graduated in October that same year. Designed from the first as a three year school, it saw the merit of the advice of the American Institute for Homeopathy in the longer course, and adopted a four year plan in 1894. From its earliest period it was agreed that “women should be admitted on an equal footing with men to all the privileges of the college.


Students gained clinical experience at the Pacific Homoeopathic Dispensary, affiliated with the College, but the college opened a very small hospital of its own in a small cottage on Sacramento Street, early in 1887. Dr. James Ward was the superintendent. Financial disruptions continued into the 90’s, requiring annual resolutions to keep the College going. Early in 1897, perhaps in search of greater stability, the college made overtures to the University of California (established in Berkeley in 1868) for an affiliation between the two institutions, which were rejected. This defeat spurred the college regents to build their own plant, which got underway in 1898. Funds were sought across the state; the amount required for a four story building was $10,000. The cornerstone was laid February 4, 1899, and the building dedicated in July. Over the main entrance were the words “Hahnemann Hospital College.”

A new corporation was formed in 1903, known as the Hahnemann Medical College of the Pacific, which permitted the establishment of a training school for nurses, and the charter and holdings of the Hahnemann Hospital College were transferred in 1902.


Hahnemann Medical College of the Pacific


Hahnemann Medical College – California – 1899

Thirteen years later the Regents of the University of California accepted the proposal of the Hahnemann Medical College of the Pacific and offered elective courses in homeopathy in the University of California Medical School.” Beginning in the 1917-18 academic year, elective courses in homeopathy were offered under the direction of a professor of homeopathic materia medica and a professor of applied homeopathic therapeutics. These courses were required to meet entrance requirements of the School.

The Pacific Homoeopathic Dispensary offered the earliest hospital care by homeopathic physicians in San Francisco, and was the first locus of clinical training by the newly established homeopathic medical college in the mid-1880’s. Without sufficient financing, several attempts made to establish a homeopathic hospital in San Francisco failed. In 1895, however, under the newly revised charter of the city, the Hahnemann Medical College of the Pacific did gain the right (along with the other medical institutions) to supply interns to San Francisco City and County Hospital. In 1901, under newly elected Mayor E.E. Schmitz, Dr. James W. Ward, a prominent homeopath, was appointed as a health commissioner of San Francisco. In 1903 Dr. Ward was elected president of the commission, and two wards in the City and County Hospital were assigned to the stewardship of the homeopathic community.

In 1877, under the legislative act of 1875-76, the Pacific Homeopathic Medical Society merged with the Pacific Medical Society to become the California State Homoeopathic Medical Society, which would have the power to license homeopathic practitioners. At a meeting of the state society in 1923, at Santa Cruz, Dr. Ward, a long time leader of the homeopathic community, announced the formation of the Homeopathic foundation of California.

California’s initial homeopathic publication, The California Medical Times, edited by Drs. Hiller and Worth, appeared four times in 1877. This was followed, in 1882, by The California Homeopath. It was edited by Dr. William Boericke, until the title changed, with volume nine, to Pacific Coast Journal of Homoeopathy.


Credit & Source: California Homeopathic Institutions Records, UCSF Library and University of California, San Francisco.

About the author

Iman Navab

Iman Navab is a certified classical Homeopath and doctor of alternative medicine from Canada. He is the President of the Applied Research in Homeopathy Foundation of Canada (www.ARHFC.ca). He is the author of 'Miasma of Cancer', and is a historian of Homeopathy. Iman teaches History and Philosophy of Homeopathy at the Canadian College of Holistic Health. Navab gives lectures and seminars to raise awareness about the rich history of Homeopathy.


  • Interesting article, Iman, I had no idea there was a connection to UC Berkeley. That’s amazing, 774 registered homeopaths in California in 1899!

  • Hi.. I m homeopathic doctor from India
    ( Gujarat) .. I m here in San Diego.. I wanna practice here .. so how I can start practice or shall I need to study here? .. pls guide me..
    Thank you

Leave a Comment