Dating its first two acquisitions to 1813, the Harvey Cushing/John Hay Whitney Medical Library at Yale University is now the repository of an exceptional collection of over 411,000 volumes and 2,600 medical journals.
The beautiful medical library building was added to nearby Sterling Hall of Medicine in 1940, designed by Yale alumnus and architect Grover Atterbury and opened in 1941. The rotunda honors library namesake and Yale alumnus Dr. Harvey Cushing, whose extraordinary collection of tumor ridden brains - the study of which led him to be a pioneer of neuroscience - resides in a special purpose built room below the library. The bulk of the original collection was comprised of a donation books on science and medical history by Cushing, and fellow physicians and bibliophiles John F. Fulton and Arnold C. Klebs in 1935.
The collection now holds everything from rare medieval manuscripts and early Persian works to the illustrated anatomical books of the enlightenment as well as a large collection of medical artifacts and objects.
Many of the rare items held in the collection were donated by former students and staff of the University. The Fry Print Collection holds 2,000 prints and drawings from the history of medicine, drawing on the works of over 600 artists and five centuries of artistic interpretation, donated by former Psychiatry professor Clements C. Fry. The Streeter Collection focuses on the history of weights and measures, and was assembled by bacteriologist Edward C. Streeter, who graduated in 1898.
The library was renovated, expanded and renamed in 1990 with funds from Mrs. John Hay Whitney (Harvey Cushing’s daughter).
Those wishing to help preserve the extraordinary collections held at the medical history Library can “adopt a rare book” in need of conservation.
Know Before You Go
The Medical Library is located just off the central rotunda in the Yale University School of Medicine Building, 333 Cedar Street.