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Harvey Williams Cushing Papers in the Yale University Library

 Collection
Call Number: MS 160

Scope and Contents

The Harvey Williams cushing Papers in the Yale University Library are composed of correspondence, subject files, writings, family papers, artifacts, and writings about Harvey cushing. The papers document the personal life and professional career of a medical giant and pioneer neurosurgeon. They reveal Cushing as a doctor, teacher, soldier, administrator, bibliophile, and scientist, whose diverse achievements are important to the histories of the Harvard Medical School, Peter Bent Brigham Hospital, and the Yale University Medical School and Library, as well as to the history of brain surgery.

The papers document Cushing's activities in various professional organizations, his research and writing, particularly on brain tumors and on Sir William Osler, and his book collecting. The papers include a large correspondence with prominent physicians, medical educators and administrators, Cushing's classmates, students, assistants, patients, World War I colleagues, and book dealers, librarians, and book collectors. The papers also relate to the history of the Cushing family, who were early settlers in the Western Reserve of Ohio. Cushing family members served in the Civil War and the family included four generations of physicians.

On his death in 1939 Harvey Williams Cushing left his invaluable historical medical collection of published volumes and unpublished manuscripts to the Yale Medical Library to form, with the libraries of his friends Arnold Klebs and John Fulton, the Yale Medical Historical Library. Along with this library he left his personal and professional papers, family papers, numerous drawings, photographs, and artifacts. The Yale Medical Historical Library issued a short-title catalogue, The Harvey Cushing Collection of Books and Manuscripts (New York: Schuman's, 1943), to describe this vast collection.

Between 1980 and 1989, the Medical Historical Library transferred the bulk of Harvey Cushing's personal, professional and family papers to Manuscripts and Archives. The Medical Historical Library retained the bound volumes of Cushing's personal and professional papers including his diary, as well as published volumes of Cushing's books, biographies of Cushing, and other printed material relating to Cushing.

Each repository treats its Cushing holdings as a complete collection and has catalogued them as such in the Research Libraries Information Network database. For ease of description here, the papers held in Manuscripts and Archives (Manuscript Group Number 160) are designated as Part I, while Part II refers to the papers held in the Medical Historical Library.

A large number of documents in both parts were created on highly acidic wood pulp paper, particularly carbon copies of Cushing's outgoing letters. Over the years these items became embrittled and had to be treated to preserve them from further deterioration. Many items in Part I were photocopied on to preservation paper, while several volumes in Part II received conservation treatment. These items were deacidified and encased in mylar to protect them during handling. Highly acidic newspaper clippings were removed and photocopies on preservation paper were substituted in the volumes.

Through a 1990 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to the Research Libraries Group, the Yale University Library microfilmed the holdings of both Manuscripts and Archives and the Medical Historical Library. On the microfilm the holdings of each repository are considered as parts of one bibliographic title called the Harvey Williams Cushing Papers in the Yale University Library. Portions of both Parts I and II are included in the microfilm edition. The microfilm represents yet another attempt to preserve the papers in both parts from further deterioration due to handling.

Series I, CORRESPONDENCE, includes files of incoming and outgoing letters arranged alphabetically by the correspondent's name. Series II, SPECIAL FILES, contains correspondence along with notes, photographs, clippings, and.other types of published material, arranged alphabetically by subject. This series also includes the volumes of Cushing's diaries, scrapbooks, and medical school notebooks, with loose correspondence and other material interleaved. The division of correspondence between Series I and II, between files organized by subject or by correspondent, reflects an arrangement of files developed by Cushing, his staff, and the staff of the Medical Historical Library. Manuscripts and published copies of Cushing's writings: books, published and unpublished papers, lectures, and clinic notes, are arranged in Series III, WRITINGS. Correspondence of family members, not addressed to or from Harvey Cushing, and photographs of and writings by other family members are arranged in Series IV, FAMILY PAPERS. Series V, ARTIFACTS, includes an array of objects which belonged to Harvey Cushing, while Series VI, WRITINGS OF OTHERS CONCERNING CUSHING, is composed of publications which refer to cushing's life andjor work.

The papers include some photographs of Cushing, particularly in the diaries in Part II, Series II. There is, however, no separate series of photographs in the Cushing papers. Additional photographs are held in the Medical Historical Library Portrait Collection. Additional artifacts including furniture and personal memorabilia are also held in the Medical Historical Library. These, however, are not treated as part of the Cushing Papers and have not been described here.

This finding aid includes a listing for all folder and volume titles in both parts of the papers, as the materials appear on the microfilm. A fuller description of the contents and arrangement of each series is included before the folder or volume list for that series.

In the listings for materials in Series I and II of Part I, which comprise the first 104 reels of microfilm, the reader will find cross-references to related materials in Part II. The cross-referencing is to the file folder or general subject level. Individual items are not cross-referenced. For example, the reader will find in the listing for Series I (Part I) under "Welch, William Henry" a direction to "See also: MHL, Series II." This indicates that related material is located in the Cushing Papers in the Medical Historical Library. By referring to the listing for Series II (Part II) under "Welch, William Henry" the reader will find a description of bound volumes of Welch material, as well as the reel number on which this material has been filmed. The listing for Series II (Part I) directs the reader searching "University and hospital appointments" to "See: MHL, Series II." This indicates that no file on this subject is included in the Cushing Papers in the Manuscripts and Archives Department but that there is material on this subject in the papers at the Medical Historical Library. The full descriptive listing of materials in Part II does not contain cross-references to similar materials housed in the Manuscripts and Archives Department. Any cross-reference lacking the designation "Part" or "Series" refers to another series or folder within the same part or series.

Arrangement and description of the microfilm

The arrangement of the papers on the microfilm integrates the materials from the two parts. The papers are arranged such that the matching series from each part are filmed consecutively. For instance, the papers in Series II (Part II), Special Files, follow the papers in Series II (Part I). The listing is annotated with the reel numbers on which materials appear. Reel numbers have only been placed next to the description of the first item on the film, as well as at the top of each page. Where there is a blank space in the column for reel number, the reader should glance up the column to find the appropriate reel number.

Artifacts and published material by others concerning Cushing, Series V (Part I) and Series IV and VI (Part II), are excluded from the microfilm. Additional materials which were not filmed are noted in the column "Reel No." as "Not on film." The designation "Not on film" appears next to the description for each box or volume not filmed, with the exception of those series where the entire series was not filmed. In the listing for these series, there is no column for reel number.

Dates

  • 1745-1965
  • Majority of material found within 1887 - 1939

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Existence and Location of Copies

HM 225: The entire collection is available on microfilm with the exception of boxes 71, 74-78, 89-107, 113-119, and 201-205, and the folio. Patrons must use film instead of the original materials whenever possible.

HM 241: Boxes 89-107, The Brain Tumor Registry, are available on film.

Conditions Governing Use

Unpublished materials authored or otherwise produced by the creator(s) of this collection are in the public domain. There are no restrictions on use. 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.

Arrangement

Part I is composed of 205 boxes (91 linear feet) of papers, while the bound volumes which comprise Part II measure 30 linear feet.

Part I is organized into five series: I. Correspondence. II. Special Files, 1886-1939. III. Writings, 1902-1939. IV. Family Papers, 1745-1940. V. Artifacts, 1889-1930s.

Part II is organized into four series: II. Special Files, 1887-1939. III. Writings, 1898-1940. IV. Family Papers, 1780-1944. VI. Writings of others concerning Cushing, 1910-1988.

Extent

91 Linear Feet (205 boxes)

Language of Materials

English

Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL

http://hdl.handle.net/10079/fa/mssa.ms.0160

Overview

The Harvey Williams Cushing Papers in the Yale University Library are composed of correspondence, subject files, writings, family papers, artifacts, and writings about Harvey Cushing. The papers document the personal life and professional career of a medical giant and pioneer neurosurgeon. They reveal Cushing as a doctor, teacher, soldier, administrator, bibliophile, and scientist, whose diverse achievements are important to the histories of the Harvard Medical School, Peter Bent Brigham Hospital, and the Yale University Medical School and Library, as well as to the history of brain surgery. Harvey Williams Cushing was born in Cleveland, Ohio, on April 9, 1869. He was the youngest of ten children of Henry Kirke and Betsey Maria (Williams) Cushing. Medicine was a family tradition. His father was a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Western Reserve University. His brother, Edward Fitch, grandfather, and great-grandfather were also physicians. His grandfather, Erastus Cushing, had moved to Cleveland in 1835 from Massachusetts, where the family had become established some two hundred years earlier.

Biographical / Historical

Harvey Williams Cushing was born in Cleveland, Ohio, on April 9, 1869. He was the youngest of ten children of Henry Kirke and Betsey Maria (Williams) Cushing. Medicine was a family tradition. His father was a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Western Reserve University. His brother, Edward Fitch, grandfather, and great-grandfather were also physicians. His grandfather, Erastus Cushing, had moved to Cleveland in 1835 from Massachusetts, where the family had become established some two hundred years earlier.

After attending local schools in Cleveland, Cushing was admitted to Yale College, where he was stimulated by his work with Russell H. Chittenden, Yale's first physiological chemist, and developed a serious interest in medicine. After receiving his B.A. degree from Yale in 1891, Cushing entered the Harvard Medical School. In 1895, he graduated A.M. and M.D. cum laude. Drawn to surgery by his work with Maurice H. Richardson, whom he assisted as early as 1892, he spent the year following his graduation as an intern in surgery at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, working under Richardson, John Homans, C. B. Porter, and J. W. Elliot. While still in medical school Cushing had developed, with his classmate E. A. Codman, the "ether charts", on which pulse, respiration, and, subsequently, blood pressure were plotted, enabling the surgeon to gauge the patient's condition throughout the operation.

In the summer of 1896 Cushing became an assistant resident in surgery at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, then under the direction of William Osler and William H. Welch. Cushing served as surgical assistant to William Stewart Halsted. It was Halsted who taught Cushing his slow, meticulous technique.

On the recommendation of Osler and Welch, Cushing spent the year of 1900-1901 abroad. He went first to England, where Osler introduced him to Victor Horsley, the founder of neurosurgery. Cushing decided to go to Bern, where he worked for some six months with the physiologist Hugo Kronecker and with Halsted's friend, the surgeon Theodor Kocher, on problems of intracranial pressure and cerebral circulation. Early in 1901 he went to Italy and, still pursuing his experiments on intracranial pressure, worked for a month in the laboratory of Angelo Mosso, the eminent altitude physiologist. At Pavia he saw the blood-pressure apparatus of Scipione Riva-Rocci and succeeded in obtaining a replica of it which he eventually carried back to the United States, thereby introducing blood pressure determinations into American operating rooms and into American clinical medicine. Upon his return to England, again on Osler's advice, he spent some time with Charles S. Sherrington, at the University of Liverpool. Sherrington at this time was commencing his experiments on the motor cortex of the anthropoids, and Cushing was able to assist in these historic studies. Besides strengthening his inclination toward surgery of the central nervous system, Cushing's year abroad aroused his interest in the history of his profession.

Upon his return to Baltimore in the summer of 1901, Cushing began a general surgical practice and received an appointment in surgery at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. He gradually directed his attention more and more exclusively, first to the surgery of the pituitary gland and later to the many other branches of neurological surgery. Cushing's early operations for brain tumors were disappointing. In February, 1910, however, he successfully removed a tumor from the right parietal hemisphere of General Leonard Wood. This operation, on one of the most influential figures of his time, did much for Cushing's reputation as a neurological surgeon.

Cushing turned down various calls to other medical schools. Hopkins offered unusual opportunities for giving his students training in practical operative surgery at its Hunterian Laboratory of Experimental Medicine, which Cushing helped to establish in 1905. The decision, however, to build the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston opposite the Harvard Medical School, with close liaison between the two institutions, led Cushing to accept an appointment as surgeon-in-chief of the hospital and professor of surgery in the school, and in September, 1912, he moved to Boston. He took an active part in drawing up specifications for the hospital, both the physical plant and the charter on which it was to operate.

Before his clinic in Boston was fully organized World War I broke out. In January, 1915, Cushing took one of the early volunteer groups from Harvard to work at the Ambulance Américaine at Neuilly, France, for several months. On his return he organized Base Hospital No. 5, a large army medical unit recruited largely from Harvard and the vicinity, which served with the British and later with the American forces until after the Armistice. During the winter of 1917 Cushing operated almost incessantly. He subsequently suffered from an attack of polyneuritis, the results of which were to plague him the rest of his life. On the basis of his experiences he published a classic paper on wartime injuries of the brain.

Upon the death of Sir William Osler, in December, 1919, Lady Osler invited Cushing to write her husband's biography. This task was to take much of his time for the next five years. The Life of Sir William Osler, published in two volumes in 1925, won a Pulitzer Prize.

Some of Cushing's most important publications appeared during the period between 1925 and the time of his formal retirement in 1932. His monograph, A Classification of the Tumors of the Glioma Group, based on work commenced with Percival Bailey in 1922, was published in 1926. In the same year he also published a short monograph, Studies in Intracranial Physiology and Surgery. In 1927, he published a monograph with Leo M. Davidoff on acromegaly. A second volume with Percival Bailey, Tumors Arising from the Blood-Vessels of the Brain (1928), described twenty-nine cases of one of the rarest groups of intracranial tumors. A collection of essays, Consecratio Medici (1928), was followed by two monographs: Intracranial Tumors: Notes upon a Series of Two Thousand Verified Cases with Surgical-Mortality Percentages Pertaining Thereto and Papers Relating to the Pituitary Body, Hypothalamus and Parasympathetic Nervous System.

After his retirement from Harvard, Cushing moved to New Haven to become Sterling Professor of Neurology (1933-1937) and later director of studies in the history of medicine at Yale. He managed to do considerable writing during this period. A condensation of his war diary, From a Surgeon's Journal, 1915-1918, illustrated by his own photographs and pencil sketches, came out in 1936. In 1938 he published the monograph Meningiomas, in collaboration with his associate Dr. Louise Eisenhardt. A last group of essays, The Medical Career and Other Papers (1940), was in the press at the time of his death. And, by the end of the summer of 1939, he had largely completed the text of his Bio-bibliography of Andreas Vesalius, for which he had been gathering material for over forty years. Finished by various friends, it appeared in 1943.

Cushing bequeathed his extensive collection of rare medical and scientific books to Yale. He also persuaded various friends to give their collections, and in this manner the Medical Historical Library came into existence as a wing of the new Yale Medical Library in June, 1941.

On June 10, 1902, Cushing married Katherine Stone Crowell of Cleveland. They had five children: William, Mary Benedict (who first married Vincent Astor and later married James Fosburgh), Betsey (who first married James Roosevelt, son of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and later became Mrs. John Hay Whitney), Henry Kirke, and Barbara (whose first marriage was to Stanley Grafton Mortimer and whose second marriage was to William S. Paley, head of the Columbia Broadcasting System). Cushing died at the New Haven Hospital on October 7, 1939.

Excerpted from: Dictionary of American Biography, Volume XXII, Supplement Two (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1958).

Separated Materials

Garments formerly in Part I, Series V (boxes 201-205), including military uniforms, medical attire, and academic robes, were transferred to the Yale Medical Historical Library in 2010.
Title
Guide to the Harvey Williams Cushing Papers in the Yale University Library
Status
Under Revision
Author
compiled by Diane E. Kaplan
Date
June 1992
Description rules
Finding Aid Created In Accordance With Manuscripts And Archives Processing Manual
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

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

Location

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

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