Historical Librarians and Benefactors
Of the three founders who agreed to combine their collections to form the basis of the Historical Library, only John Fulton, younger by a generation, was on hand to oversee the project through. Fulton oversaw the Historical Library as head of an Advisory Committee, in addition to serving as Sterling Professor of Physiology. In 1949, when both the General Medical Library and the Historical Library came under a single director, Fulton took the title Keeper of the Medical History Collections. It was at this time that Yale’s medical books were transferred to the Medical Library from Sterling Memorial Library (the journals had already been transferred). Fulton became Sterling Professor of the History of Medicine in 1951. John Fulton was photographed in this Rotunda showing Vesalius editions to a guest. This photo was taken for the New Haven Register in 1948.
John Fulton in the Historical Library with British historian of medicine, F. N. L. Poynter. Fulton’s office was opposite the offices of the Historical Library.
Madeline E. Stanton, Harvey Cushing’s Secretary at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital since the 1920s who came with him to Yale in 1933, knew all the founders and benefactors in this exhibit very well. From the outset of the Historical Library, although her title was Secretary, the legendary “Miss Stanton,” the Lady of the Books, was effectively in charge. Named Librarian of the Yale Medical Historical Collections in 1949, Stanton carried on the legacy of the founders with energy, devotion, bibliographical skill, and an intimate knowledge of the collection, until her retirement in 1968 and beyond.
She could not see the point of a retirement party when she was coming back to work as a volunteer the next week.
Bookplate of the Madeline Stanton Fund, used to purchase current books for the Historical Library.
Ferenc Gyorgyey came to the Historical Library as a cataloguer of rare books under Madeline Stanton. When Miss Stanton retired in 1968, Frank began a twenty-six year tenure as Historical Librarian. Frank, who passed away in 2014, was known for his vast knowledge of the collection and of rare books in general, his great generosity in assisting patrons, and his wonderful sense of humor.
This photograph appeared in Yale Medicine in 1979. Courtesy of Yale Medicine.
We know very little about John R. Bumstead, who, by his will, donated the funds to the Medical Library that are being used to endow the Historical Librarian position. He was the only child of John H. and Katherine MacAlister Bumstead and had no children of his own. His interest in the Medical Library probably derived from his father, a prominent New Haven internist associated with the Yale School of Medicine. Enjoying considerable wealth, probably through inheritance, the younger Bumstead retired by about the age of 40. For about twenty years, he served as a regular volunteer, managing government documents at the library of Mystic Seaport. With people he knew well, he was known as a fine storyteller – he had loved acting when he was a student. Bumstead resided in Hamden before moving to Madison in 1985. In addition to the bequest to the Medical Library, he left major donations to St. Thomas Church in New Haven and to Mystic Seaport.
John H. Bumstead was a well-known and highly esteemed New Haven clinician, an Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine in the Yale University School of Medicine and an Assisting Physician in the Yale University Health Department. A native of New Haven, where his father taught physics at Yale, Bumstead graduated from Yale College in 1919 and took his M.D. at Johns Hopkins in 1923. After his internship and residency at New Haven Hospital, he opened a very successful practice in internal medicine in New Haven. In World War II, he served as a lieutenant-colonel with the Yale Medical Unit (39th General Hospital) and was awarded the bronze cross.
Dr. Bumstead is especially remembered for his pivotal role in the first use of penicillin in America at New Haven Hospital in March 1942. Bumstead was the physician of 33-year old Ann Miller, wife of Ogden Miller, Sr., the Yale athletic director. Following a miscarriage, Mrs. Miller developed a life- threatening streptococcal infection. Neither transfusions, surgery, nor sulfa drugs helped. Her fever had reached between 104 and 106.5 degrees for 11 days in a row when Bumstead, in desperation, visited his friend and patient, John F. Fulton, who was also in the hospital, and asked for help in obtaining penicillin through Fulton’s long association with Howard Florey. Fulton was able to arrange for a small amount of the new drug to be sent by the Merck plant in New Jersey. It arrived on Saturday, March 14 and was administered that day. By the next morning, Mrs. Miller’s temperature was normal. Under the continued care of Dr. Bumstead, Mrs. Miller made a complete recovery and lived until the age of 90. The original of this oil portrait, painted by S.L. Abbott, is located one flight down in the Medical Library.
Frederick Kilgour, director of the Medical Library, announced the creation by the Library Associates of the John H. Bumstead Memorial Fund in 1958. A special bookplate was designed. Over one hundred of his colleagues, friends, and former patients contributed. The fund is used for purchasing current books for the Medical Library.