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Department of Health, Division of Student Mental Hygiene, Yale University, records

Call Number: RU 109

Scope and Contents

The research strengths of these records include gay and lesbian studies, as the documents assembled within cover the medicalization and diagnosis of homosexualityas a psychological disturbance, and writings, reports (including division personnel reactions to the Kinsey Report), and comments on homosexuals engaged in military and other public service. Another potentially rich area exists for those who study the psychology of war. Correspondence in the Project Files tracks the department's efforts to aid and advise the selection of men for military service, particularly officer candidates; psychiatric rejections in military screening; projects with multiple government offices to track the military careers of previous Yale and Harvard psychiatric patients; and statistics on psychological trauma to deployed troops. Many of the findings of these projects may be found in published reports issued separately by the department or the U.S. military. More obvious directions for potential research include the historical administration of university psychiatric services, and context material for related published works such as the division's 1942 book Mental Health in College. Monthly reports included in the Administrative Records furnish clinical statistics on the numbers and types of cases and diagnoses of student patients in the aggregate, a good source for the student of the history of psychiatric diagnoses and nomenclature.

There are no case files among the records. All references to individual patients in correspondence were edited prior to being transferred to the archives. While detailed descriptions of various psychological disorders exist in reports and correspondence, they are largely absent.


  • 1926-1969


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research, with the exception of budget and payroll records, which are restricted until January 1, 2044.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The records were transferred from the Health Services Center, 1993.


The records are arranged in three series: I. Administrative Records, 1926-1969. II. General Files and Correspondence, 1926-1964. III. Project Files, 1929-1956.


9.5 Linear Feet

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


The records consist of administrative records, correspondence, conference and committee proceedings, drafts of articles, financial records, personnel records, research files, reports, subject files, and statistical files documenting the activities and projects of the Division of Student Mental Hygiene, Department of University Health, Yale University. Among the projects documented are the "Survey of Mental Health Services in Colleges" by psychiatrist Alice F. Raymond, which studied the state of psychiatric services offered in universities and colleges in the northeastern United States; and war related projects, which studied the effects of military service on Yale and Harvard men and the identification and suitability of homosexuals, psychoneurotics, and psychopaths in the military. The bulk of the records originate from the administration of Clements Collard Fry.

Biographical / Historical

The Student Mental Hygiene Division of the Department of University Health was established at Yale in 1925 under President James Rowland Angell. The division began as a consulting body under Dr. Arthur Ruggles in effort to provide mental health and psychological services to Yale students, and found its more formal existence after 1930. Led by Dr. Clements Collard Fry, the office functioned to serve the needs of Yale students and faculty, assist the New Haven community, and was a leading advocate in the field of college mental hygiene. In addition to providing counseling and performing psychological testing, the division held courses, seminars, and lectures, engaged in special projects with outside bodies, including the U.S. government, and produced written reports based on its research.

Biographical / Historical

The Division of Student Mental Hygiene was launched in October 1925 when Dr. Arthur Ruggles was appointed consultant to the Yale Department of University Health and lecturer in psychiatry at the School of Medicine. The program began with strong ties to the medical school but functioned to serve the university community and surrounding city as well. In 1926 Ruggles left the position but continued to serve on the advisory committee; that same year a five-year program to develop a mental hygiene and psychiatry program was initiated through funding from the Commonwealth Fund. For the next five years the professional staff consisted of four psychiatrists and two social workers, headed by a chairman of administration and a clinical chief-of-staff who supervised work with students. During this period Dr. Clements Collard Fry became a clinical instructor for the department, and soon became very active in its administrative and research functions, later serving as a psychiatrist and eventually as chief psychiatrist. In 1930 the division offices were moved from the medical school to the Department of University Health, making services more accessible to students and enabling psychiatrists to work more closely with student health physicians, raising awareness and tolerance of psychiatry as a normal part of medical service. Most often students were referred to the clinic by student health physicians, deans, and faculty, but occasionally students sought the division's services on their own initiative.

Over the years the division offered programs that included public lectures, university courses taught by the chief psychiatrist, discussion groups on special topics, freshman seminars, and mental hygiene exams for all entering students from 1928 to 1932. The last program was later abandoned when it appeared that the results did not justify the amount of work or the monetary expense involved. A psychologist and two psychiatric social workers were added to the staff in the late 1920s. Early on, the psychologist was responsible for testing intelligence and aptitudes, and later counseled students, pursued research, and offered remedial reading programs. Social workers conducted preliminary interviews of students as part of routine mental hygiene exams and investigated the family and social histories of students who received treatment from the division. In 1932 when the budget and staff size were reduced, Dr. Catharine Miles of the Institute of Human Relations tested students in the absence of a staff psychologist.

By 1932, the division was fully established in the Yale community, but the staff and budget had dwindled considerably. The 1934 staff consisted of one psychiatrist, Dr. Clements Collard Fry, and a secretary, the former eventually becoming chief psychiatrist and responsible for directing the division's activities. The division began to evaluate its progress in 1935, with grant support from the Yale Institute of Human Relations and Paul Mellon. The evaluation resulted in the 1942 publication of Mental Health in College, a textexploring and classifying the psychological problems of Yale student patients. Informal orientation counseling had been initiated in the 1930s to help students adjust to the Yale environment, as well as remedial reading and study habit programs for freshmen. Both programs ceased to exist after 1950. After 1935 there was a steady increase in demand for the division's services and another Mellon grant in 1939 supported the hiring of assistant psychiatrist Dr. Lewis Thorne and full time psychologist Dr. Elden Bond.

Just as the clinical operations of the division were expanding, Dr. Thorne and Dr. Bond were called away to military service at the outbreak of World War II. During the war years the division was involved in research supporting the needs of the Surgeon General's Office and the Selective Service System. In 1943 a contract was signed between the National Research Council's Office of Scientific Research and Development and the Mental Hygiene Division that provided for investigation of psychiatric problems arising from military service. This contract was terminated in 1945. Project support was continued by the Surgeon General's office until 1950, and further investigation was then funded by the War Department. The studies conducted under these contracts analyzed the military experiences of 1,198 former patients of the Yale Division of Student Mental Hygiene and 819 patients of the Harvard Clinic. Study topics included case histories, suitability for service, psychiatric discharge rates, and adjustment to the military environment. The findings raised fundamental questions about then-current theories of military selection and produced six reports, including interim reports regarding homosexuality, psychoneuroses, and psychopathic personalities.

The student caseload doubled after the war. To help with the increased demand, philanthropist Paul Mellon contributed $25,000 per year from 1946 to 1949. This grant made it possible for the division to add staff, continue psychological services, participate in national and international conferences, and widen its consultative and educational activities. As interest in student mental health grew in academic institutions and among foundations nationwide, committees and professional organizations quickly multiplied. The division found itself receiving requests for advice from other universities and hosting physicians from all over the world. Dr. Thorne was able to resume his position as assistant psychiatrist in 1946, and two part-time psychiatrists, two full-time psychologists, and one part-time psychologist also joined the staff between 1946 and 1949. During this time an anthropologist also spent a year with the division studying the college environment.

At the same time the division was able to emphasize its long-standing commitment to research and examination of clinical training. A program of staff training was instituted, with seminars and discussions attended by members of other groups within the university. The division also cooperated with the Psychiatry Department of the medical school and the state of Connecticut to finance a post-graduate course on neurology and psychiatry for physicians, nurses, and social workers. The division participated in a survey of psychiatrists working in universities, and a round table meeting on college mental hygiene was held at the annual conference of the American Psychiatric Association. In 1949, the Old Dominion Fund through Paul Mellon endowed a gift of two million dollars to support the division's efforts. The gift supported the division's activities for almost two decades. In October 1950, Dr. Thorne was shot to death by a former patient. Three years later, a memorial library was dedicated in his honor at the Timothy Dwight Residence College. In 1951 the Divison issued "Retrospect and Prospect: A Special Report on the Twenty-Fifth Anniversary of the Student Mental Hygiene Service at Yale," a detailed reportand self-analysis summarizing its past efforts and involvements. Dr. Fry died in 1955, leaving Dr. Bryant M. Wedge to take his place as chief psychiatrist. Although there are no records beyond 1969, the division continues to operate today under the same name and department.


Clements C. Fry and Edna G. Rostow. "Retrospect and Prospect: A Special Report on the Twenty-fifth Anniversary of the Student Mental Hygiene Service at Yale." Yale University: June 1951.

General note

Forms part of Yale Record Group 35 (YRG 35), Records documenting Yale health services.

Guide to the Department of University Health, Division of Student Mental Hygiene, Yale University, Records
Under Revision
compiled by Dana Miller
July 2004
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

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