Skip to main content

George A. Silver papers

Call Number: MS 1002

Scope and Contents

Though the George Silver Papers span the years 1946 to 1999, the materials best document Silver's professional career from the time of his arrival at Yale in 1969. Through correspondence and writings, which Silver addressed to both the professional and the layman, the papers reflect Silver's opinions on and attempts to shape American health policy. They highlight his interests in issues such as health manpower, medical education, the problems of foreign medical graduates, and promotion of a socially responsible attitude among physicians and public health officials. The papers do not include administrative files from Silver's day to day activities at Montefiore Hospital, the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, or the National Urban Coalition. There is also only a limited amount of material documenting Silver's teaching at Yale.

Bruce Stark completed the original arrangement and first finding aid to the Silver Papers in 1982. After Silver gave more materials for the collection, Bella Berson rearranged the materials slightly in order to integrate these additions. This finding aid reflects the changes she has made.


  • 1946-1999


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright for unpublished materials authored or otherwise produced by George A. Silver has been transferred to Yale University. These materials may be used for non-commercial purposes without seeking permission from Yale University as the copyright holder. For other uses of these materials, please contact

Copyright status for other collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of George A. Silver in 1979, 1984, 1986, and 2001.


Collection is arranged in three series: I. General Files, 1955-1999; II. Writing and Teaching, 1951-1999; III. Personal Papers, 1946-1998.


7.5 Linear Feet

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL


The papers consist of correspondence, speeches, reports, and other writings, which chiefly relate to George Silver's service as deputy assistant secretary of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, as an executive associate at the National Urban Coalition, and as professor of public health at Yale University. The papers document Silver's concern for the quality and costs of medical care in the United States and in developing countries and his focus on comprehensive health care planning. The papers form part of the Contemporary Medical Care and Health Policy Collection.

Biographical / Historical

George Albert Silver's career focused on comprehensive health planning. His concern for the level and costs of medical care in the United States, particularly for children and the elderly, made him a leader in the fight for equitable health care and national health insurance. His interests expanded to expertise in international health, especially health policy in developing countries.

Silver was born in 1913 in Philadelphia, graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1934, and received his M.D. from Jefferson Medical College in 1938. During World War II, Silver served as an officer with the 10thField Hospital in the European theater. After spending thirty months overseas in war-ravaged countries, he found his interests had shifted. Rather than return to private medical practice, he chose to dedicate his career to social medicine and public health. He served for a year as regional medical officer in the migrant labor program of the United States Department of Agriculture. Silver was then awarded a National Foundation Fellowship at Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene, and received his M.P.H. in 1947.

From 1947 to 1951, he was a health officer in Baltimore and assistant professor in local health administration in the School of Hygiene at Johns Hopkins. For the next fifteen years, he was chief of the Division of Social Medicine at Montefiore Hospital in New York City and in charge of the Montefiore Medical Group, the Home Care program, and the Family Health Maintenance Demonstration. He also served on the faculties of Columbia University, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and the University of Michigan, teaching courses in public health administration and preventive medicine.

In March 1966, John Gardner, secretary of the United States Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, appointed Silver deputy secretary for health and scientific affairs, a position he retained until November 1968, when he joined Gardner at the National Urban Coalition, as an executive associate responsible for program planning in health matters. Silver began lecturing in public health at Yale University in 1965 and fours years later, he was made a professor of public health in the Yale School of Medicine.

While at Yale Silver wrote three of his four books: Family Medical Care: A Report on the Family Health Maintenance Demonstration (1963), Family Medical Care: A Design for Health Maintenance (1974), A Spy in the House of Medicine (1976), and Child Health, America's Future (1978). He also published numerous articles and lectured widely in the United States and abroad on social medicine, group practice, medical care organization, health policy, and health problems in the third world. He also served as a consultant in comprehensive health planning.

Silver served on the Advisory Health Council of the American Arbitration Association, chair of the Committee on International Health of the American Public Health Association, and a member of the board of directors of the Health Manpower Development Corporation and the Jewish Home for the Aged in New Haven. For the Milbank Memorial Fund, he was a member of the Technical Board and of the Commission for the Study of Higher Education in Public Health.

Silver's many honors include the Martha Eliot Award of the American Public Health Association in 1980, appointment as Senior Member of the National Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences in 1983, and a Rockefeller Bellagio Study Award in 1983. He was named professor emeritus in 1984.

General note

Forms part of the Contemporary Medical Care and Health Policy Collection.

Guide to the George A. Silver Papers
Under Revision
Compiled by Bruce P. Stark, Diane E. Kaplan, and Bella Z. Berson
October 1982
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

Yale University Library
P.O. Box 208240
New Haven CT 06520-8240 US
(203) 432-1735
(203) 432-7441 (Fax)


Sterling Memorial Library
Room 147
120 High Street
New Haven, CT 06511

Opening Hours