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Special Collections and University Archives

Finding Aid

Papers of Nathaniel G. Alcock
RG 99.0266
Collection Dates: 1933-1962
Bulk: 1940s
3 linear ft.

Access and Restrictions: This collection is open for research.

Digital Surrogates: Except where indicated, this document describes but does not reproduce the actual text, images and objects which make up this collection. Materials are available only in the Special Collections Department.

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Acquisition and Processing Information: These papers were donated to the University Archives prior to 1970.  The scrapbook was donated by Dr. Charles E. Hawtrey in January 2003.  Finding aid posted to the Internet in March 2010.

Photographs: Box 1; Oversize Box 1

Dr. Nathaniel G. Alcock, head of State University of Iowa Department of Urology

Dr. Nathaniel G. Alcock, holding a resectiscope in his office, General Hospital.

Photograph by Frederick W. Kent

Scope and Contents

The Nathaniel G. Alcock papers include photographs and correspondence regarding his tenure as head of the Department of Urology.  The correspondence primarily concerns President Virgil Hancher's enactment of the University's Private Practice Plan, which adjusted the College of Medicine faculty salaries on July 1, 1946.  The work of the Medical Problem Committee of 1946 is included, as well as correspondence leading up to the formation of the committee.  The correspondence in this collection reflects how the salary issue was handled at other U. S. medical schools during the 1940s. 

Many of the photographs in this collection were made by Frederick W. Kent, University photographer.  According to the Frederick W. Kent Oral History Interview, Kent also created hundreds of medical photographs for Alcock.  The oversize scrapbook was presented to Dr. Alcock on June 3, 1950, to commemorate his service as president of the Mississippi Valley Medical Society from 1949 to 1950.  The scrapbook consists of photographic portraits from Alcock's colleagues, paired with letters of appreciation.

These papers are organized in alphabetical or chronological order, with each line in the box contents list representing one folder, unless otherwise indicated.

Biographical Note

Nathaniel Graham Alcock was born in Platteville, Wisconsin, on January 18, 1881.  He received his B.S. degree in 1907, his M.S. degree in 1908, and his M. D. in 1912, all at Northwestern University.  He married Marjory Bates in 1912 and the couple had two daughters and one son.

Dr. Alcock joined the faculty of the State University of Iowa College of Medicine in January 1915 as the second instructor in Genito-Urinary Surgery, following the one-year appointment of instructor Lewis W. Bremerman, from 1914 to 1915.  As was common practice, Alcock's appointment was part time, which allowed him to operate a part time private practice, with his office located on the second floor at 8 South Clinton Street in Iowa City, Iowa.

In 1923 Alcock established the College of Medicine Department of Urology and developed it into one of the most highly regarded teaching programs in the nation.  He was known for his pioneering work in transurethral surgery during the 1930s, which was performed to relieve prostatic enlargement.  He was a member of the American Urological Association and other professional societies.  In 1950 he was awarded the annual medal from the Mississippi Valley Medical Society for distinguished service in his position as president from November 1949 to December 1950.  Alcock, who was known by his colleagues as "the Chief," served under four University presidents during his 35 years in the College of Medicine:  Thomas H. Macbride, 1915 to 1916; Walter Jessup, 1916 to 1934; Eugene Gilmore, 1934 to 1940; and Virgil M. Hancher, 1940 to 1949.

President Hancher demoted Dr. Alcock from head to acting head of the Department of Urology on July 1, 1947, due to Dr. Alcock’s rejection of the Private Practice Plan, a University initiative intended to limit the amount of income that members of the College of Medicine faculty were allowed to earn through their private practices. Dr. Alcock was a member of the Medical Problem Committee during 1946 to address the Private Practice Plan, which he viewed as socialized medicine. Dr. Alcock died December 10, 1953. 

[D. Anderson; 03/2010]

Related Materials

Folder, "Alcock, Nathaniel G.," Faculty and Staff Vertical Files collection (RG 01.15.03)

Folder, "Bremerman, Lewis Wine," Faculty and Staff Vertical Files collection (RG 01.15.03)

Folder, "Flocks, Rubin H.," Faculty and Staff Vertical Files collection (RG 01.15.03)

Folder, "Smith, Fred M.," Faculty and Staff Vertical Files collection (RG 01.15.03)

Papers of Raymond Bunge (RG 99.0002)

Papers of Rubin H. Flocks (RG 99.0274)

Beilman, James. "The University of Iowa Oral History Project." Books at Iowa 27 (November 1977): 21-29, 34, illus. [see interview XLV with Robert C. Hardin regarding the Private Practice Plan, pages 54-63]

Hawtrey, Charles E., Richard D. Williams. "Historical Evolution of Transurethral Resection at the University of Iowa: Alcock and Flocks." The Journal of Urology 180 (2008): 55-61.

Levey, Samuel. The Rise of a University Teaching Hospital, a Leadership Perspective: The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, 1898-1995. Chicago: Health Administration Press, 1997. 465 pp.

The Alcock Collection of Silver Plate in the University of Iowa Museum of Art.  Iowa City: The University of Iowa Museum of Art, 1978.  This collection is available for viewing online at

Box Contents List

Box 1

Biographical sketches of Alcock. 1949-1954; n.d.


---. Family friends. 1938; n.d.

---. Cartoon by Dr. Jorge R. Borrell of Alcock performing surgery on autopsy specimen to demonstrate techniques to control bleeding. 1945.

---. Plaque of Alcock by artist Humbert Albrizio. 1951.

---. Portraits of Alcock.

---. Alcock while teaching.

---. Medical staff groups.

---. Rubin H. Flocks with Beta Kappa group. n.d.


---.President Virgil M. Hancher.


------. Alcock to Hancher regarding his views on faculty hours. 1942.


------. Hancher to John C. Reid. July 19, 1943.

------. Hancher to Mrs. Howard L. Beye. 1945.

------. Hancher to Dr. George C. Albright. 1947.

------. Jack V. Treynor to Hancher regarding Alcock's demotion. 1948.


---. Olan R. Hyndman resignation. 1945.

---. Dr. Henry S. Houghton, dean of the College of Medicine from 1928 to 1932. April-November 1946.

---. Alcock to R. E. Neff regarding the hospital's non-smoking policy. 1945.

---. Richard Plock to Frank G. Ober; Ober to Alcock. 1946-1947.


---. College of Medicine faculty hours

------. 1941

------. 1942

------. 1943

------. 1944

------. 1945

------. 1946 [see Medical Problem Committee]

------. 1947

------. 1948

------. 1949-1962

---. Invitations to a dinner to honor Alcock. January 1949.

---. Condolences on the death of Dr. Alcock. December 1953.

Medical Problem Committee (Alcock, Barnes, Gottlieb, Kerr [chairman], Leinfalder, Plass, Smith). January 16, 1946-December 1946.

College of Medicine investigation report to members of Iowa State Medical Society from Dr. George H. Scanlon, Dr. Jack V. Treynor, and Dr. R. F. Birge. Includes correspondence. [Late 1946 or early 1947?]

Minority report. Committee on the Reorganization of the Medical Practice in the University Hospital. Presented to the Medical Council on June 3, 1946.

Clinical Society of Genito-Urinary Surgeons. Annual meeting programs. 1955, 1957.

The Medical Bulletin articles. 1941; 1958.

Furstenberg, A. C. "Address of President. A Consideration of Full Time and Part Time Faculty Services in the Medical Schools of North America in Relation to Medical Education and the Care of the Sick." Reprint from Journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges. November 1945.  [A. C. Furstenberg, President, Association of American Medical Colleges.]

Daily Iowan article regarding the medical faculty hours issue. May 27, 1947.

Oversize Box 1

Scrapbook, "The Chief"