William Michael Late Coplin

William Michael Late Coplin


President of the International Association of Medical Museums 1920-1921



Born - 1 November 1864, Clarksburg, West Virginia


Died - 1928, Atlantic City, New Jersey 


Academic Degrees - Undergrad: Mount Union College, Ohio and Thomas Jefferson University, 1883; MD: Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1886 (Started working as a senior with pathology specimens from the practice of The Professor of Surgery, Samuel W. Gross)


Academic Positions - 1886 - 1887 Assistant Demonstrator of Pathologic Anatomy, Jefferson Medical College; 1887 - 1892 Assistant Pathologist, Jefferson Medical College; 1892 - 1894 Demonstrator of Pathology, Jefferson Medical College; Curator of the Pathology Museum; Pathologist to the Philadelphia (General) Hospital; 1894 - 1895 Temporary Professor of Pathology, Jefferson Medical College; 1895 - 1896 Professor of Pathology, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee; 1896 - 1922 Professor of Pathology and Bacteriology, Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


Selected Career Highlights:


  • First full-time pathologist at Jefferson.
  • Published Textbook of Practical Hygiene (1893), Lectures in Pathology (1894-5) and Manual of Pathology (five editions).
  • Special interest over the years was the Pathology Museum.
  • Invented a grooved glass jar (the Coplin Jar) which allowed slides to stand separated in a staining solution.
  • His career parallels the early growth of clinical laboratories in the United States. With the advance of microscopy and bacteriology and its application to clinical problems in the hospital, a need for hospital-based labs was generated. Dr. Coplin led that effort in Philadelphia.
  • Appointed as bacteriologist to the Pennsylvania State Board of Health and Director of the City of Philadelphia Department of Public Health and Charities: organized the Municipal Hospital for Contagious Diseases.