Dr. Harvey Cushing, a path-breaking neurosurgeon and Sterling Professor of Neurosurgery at Yale, had books on his mind when he wrote to his friend Dr. Arnold Klebs on Oct. 4, 1936. Cushing, a passionate bibliophile, had amassed over his career a vast collection of rare and historical medical and scientific texts. He had always planned to have his books and manuscripts sold on the open market after he died so that other collectors could enjoy them as he had.
“This idea has begun to wane in favor of leaving them to Yale to be kept together … as the basis of a medico-historical collection,” Cushing wrote to Klebs, a noted collector of medical texts.
Cushing, an 1891 graduate of Yale College, encouraged Klebs to consider leaving his collection to Yale. Dr. John Fulton, Sterling Professor of Physiology and Cushing’s former pupil at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston, had agreed to donate his significant collection to the university as well.
“Let us play with the idea and see what comes of it,” Cushing wrote.
The idea came to full flower on June 15, 1941 when Yale’s medical-historical library opened within the Sterling Hall of Medicine. The library, now the Harvey Cushing/John Hay Whitney Medical Library, is marking 75 years of serving the Yale community — supporting the university’s clinical, research, and educational missions. Read more in this Yale News article.