Our History

Radiology began at the University of Michigan on April 26,1896, only five months after the announcement of Roentgen's discovery of the X-ray. Mr. S. M. Keenan of Eloise Hospital brought a patient to Ann Arbor with a bullet in his foot. Henry S. Garhart, a professor of physics with a long-standing interest in Crookes tubes produced X-rays in the physics laboratory, and together with William J. Herdman, professor of diseases of the mind and nervous system and of electrotherapeutics, they made an image of the patient's foot showing the bullet. Herdman soon began using a static machine in his office to demonstrate the production of X-rays and their medical value to his students. In 1899, W. A. Spitzley's publication on  "X-rays and the Development of their Usefulness," just three years after Roentgen read his preliminary report before the Physico-Medical Society of Würzburg, was published in the Michigan Alumnus and illustrated several of the first "skiagraphs obtained a the University of Michigan.

Zwaluwenburg Radiology Chair
James Van Zwaluwenburg, MD

In 1913, James Van Zwaluwenburg, M.D., became the first professor of roentgenology in the nation here at the University of Michigan, and in 1917, the University of Michigan became the first medical school to form an independent Department of Radiology.  Formal training in radiology was started and the field began its evolution into radiological science. In 2013, we celebrated the 100th anniversary of our Department. As we look back our past at the many scientific discoveries and imaging "firsts" here at the University of Michigan, we can only marvel at what the next 100 years will bring!

For more detailed information on the history of our department, please see the The Distinguished History of Radiology at the University of Michigan prepared to celebrate the 100 years after the Xray was discovered,by William Martel


The Distinguished History of Radiology at the University of Michigan
Department history by Dr. William Martel from 1913-1993

The University of Michigan - An Encyclopedic Survey
This survey is an ongoing project to update, digitize, and collate the history of the University of Michigan which was originally published in the 1940s and updated in the 1970s. This edition was launched in preparation for the University’s 2017 bicentennial.

Faculty History Project - Radiology
The Faculty History Project gathers information about faculty members who have taught at the University of Michigan from 1837 to the present. It includes photographs, biographies, memoirs, and other information on each faculty member, documenting their contributions.

Radiology Timeline
Click on the detailed illustration below to view a timeline of our history from 1913-2013.