Building the Library
Not long after Harvey Cushing returned to New Haven in late 1933 as Sterling Professor of Neurology, he broached to Arnold Klebs and John F. Fulton the plan of joining forces and donating their combined rare book collections to Yale. Shown here is the text of the first of the series of letters among Cushing, Fulton, and Klebs that were published in 1959 as The Making of a Library: Extracts from Letters, 1934-1941, of Harvey Cushing, Arnold C. Klebs [and] John F. Fulton; presented to John Fulton by his friends on his sixtieth birthday, 1 November 1959. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1959.
It was the vision of Harvey Cushing, who joined with his two friends and fellow bibliophiles, Arnold C. Klebs and John F. Fulton, in what they called -- with many inventive synonyms -- their “Trinitarian plan,” to donate their superb book collections to Yale if Yale would build a place to house them. As the plan matured it became wedded to the idea of creating a new medical library for the Yale University School of Medicine. Cushing was the driving force persuading Yale officials to realize his vision. He wanted the medical library to be the heart of the medical school and therefore specified that it be located on the main floor and that the old and new collections be equally accessible. After much delay, it was decided to build the library as a wing to the Sterling Hall of Medicine, using funds from the Sterling bequest. Cushing was informed of the University’s approval of the final plans on the day before his death in October 1939. The Yale Medical Library (now the Harvey Cushing/John Hay Whitney Medical Library) was built through 1940 and officially dedicated in 1941.
The Yale Medical Library was formally dedicated on June 15, 1941. The Rev. Dr. George Stewart, the husband of Arnold Klebs’ only child and a multiple Yale graduate (B.A., 1915, Ph.D. 1921, D.D., 1939), gave the “Blessing over the Books.” It was he who wrote the inspiring lines carved over the fireplace in the Historical Library.
Marjorie Wildes, former librarian of the small library on the second floor of Sterling Hall of Medicine, became Librarian of the "General Medical Library." Fulton was Chairman of the Advisory Board of the Historical Library and Madeline Stanton, former Secretary to Harvey Cushing, became "Secretary in Charge" (later Librarian) of the Historical Library. The Medical Library was united under Frederick Kilgour in 1948 and became at that time an integral part of the Yale University Library. Medical books and journals at Sterling Memorial Library were transferred to the Medical Library in the 1940s.
Bookplate of the tripartite clover leaf symbolizing the coming together of the Cushing, Fulton, and Klebs collections.
On exhibit were the works of medical illustrators. The decoration of the Rotunda was a 50th reunion gift of Cushing's Yale College classmates from the Class of 1891.
This brochure announces the founding of the Library Associates, a friends group that continues to provide support to the Medical Library, including the Historical Library. In 1955, the Associates raised funds to purchase the Paneth Codex, a beautifully embellished manuscript on vellum that is one of the gems of the Historical Library. More recently Associates’ funds have purchased a new microfilm reader and paid for the scanning of over 1600 slides of the prints in the Clements C. Fry Print Collection. Over the years, thousands of new history of medicine books have been purchased through the generosity of the Associates.