Skip to main content

John Farquhar Fulton papers

Call Number: MS 1236
Scope and Contents
The John Farquhar Fulton Papers document John Fulton's career as a neurophysiologist, medical historian, bibliophile, and administrator. They include correspondence, writings, organizational files, personal papers, and photographs which reflect Fulton's interest in the history of early scientific and medical discoveries. The papers also highlight Fulton's passion for book collecting and his efforts to foster notable collections in the history of medicine, including the Army Medical Library. This work culminated in the founding of the Yale Medical Historical Library, and the papers trace Fulton's close association with his collaborators on this project, Harvey Cushing and Arnold Klebs. The papers also contain an extensive record of Fulton's involvement, during World War II, with the work of the National Research Council, particularly with the Committee on Aviation Medicine and Subcommittee on Decompression Sickness, and his chairmanship of a project to prepare a medical history of the war.

The papers illustrate the possible reasons for Fulton's success in various undertakings: the extensive circle of his acquaintances; his consultative approach; his ability to engage large numbers of people, spread over two continents, in projects; and his overall enthusiasm. Fulton's expertise in the arts of the book (typography, layout, book design) and his careful attention to meticulous bibliographic records are also easily discernible. The papers have only sparse information (scattered correspondence, syllabi, and fragmentary notes) on Fulton's teaching and research. The files contain neither laboratory notebooks nor other research data from his work in the Yale Laboratory of Physiology.

The papers are arranged in five series which, for the most part, reflect Fulton's own arrangement of his files. The bulk of the papers dates from the 1920s to the 1960s. Series I, the General Files, consists of individual and organizational correspondence, which comprise almost two-thirds of the papers. Series II, Special Subjects, documents organizations in which Fulton was active as well as historical and bibliographic projects on which he worked. This series also includes correspondence, in addition to memoranda, agendas, minutes of meetings, and notes. Series III, Writings, contains documentation on Fulton's long and productive career as a writer and lecturer. It includes drafts of published and unpublished works arranged with correspondence related to these efforts. Series IV, Personal and Family Papers, includes John Fulton's memorabilia and personal and financial papers, as well as the correspondence of Lucia Fulton and other members of the Fulton, Wheatland, and Wheaton families. Series V, Visual Images, contains portraits; photographs of family and colleagues, travels, and residences; and several reels of undated 16 mm. film depicting social events and the results of physiological experiments.

The arrangement and the content of each series are more fully analyzed in the series description at the beginning of the inventory of that series. Because documentation on some topics appears in more than one series, cross-references are included in the inventory to each series. These are extensive but not all-inclusive. In the series inventories, Fulton's writings are referred to by the number assigned in the last published bibliography of his writings which appeared in the Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences, volume xvii, number 1, 1962.

Though the Fulton Papers were transferred to Manuscripts and Archives from the Yale Medical Historical Library in 1980, additional Fulton documentation, particularly that relating to the history of the Medical Historical Library, remains there. The bound volumes of Fulton's voluminous diary, collected correspondence, and additional writings and personal memorabilia are there, as are chapter drafts for Elizabeth Thomson's incomplete biography of Fulton. Fulton's diary is also available on microfilm. Where appropriate, this material has been cross-referenced with the indication "See:" or "See also: Cushing/Whitney Medical Historical Library."
Conditions Governing Access
The materials are open for research. Motion picture film in box 318 can only be viewed after consultation with the reference staff. Researchers may be required to pay for the costs of converting the original film to video cassette.
Conditions Governing Use
Copyright status for 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
Transferred from the Yale University Medical Historical Library, 1980-1995; gift of Mrs. Ruth Judge, 1992 and 1994; and gift of Jay B. Dean, 2006.
The John Farquhar Fulton papers are arranged in five series: I. General Files, 1910-1960. II. Special Subjects, 1892-1965. III. Writings, 1914-1960. IV. Personal and Family Papers, 1884-1988. V. Visual Images, 1899-1965.
Related Material
John Farquhar Fulton Papers, Cushing/Whitney Medical Historical Library, Yale University Library.
Majority of material found within 1920 - 1960
137.25 Linear Feet (321 boxes)
Related Names
Fulton, John F. (John Farquhar), 1899-1960
Language of Materials