Medicine at Yale, 1910 - 1960

The Winternitz Boom Years, 1920-1935

The years 1920s have been called the boom years of Yale Medical School, the period in which the school emerged as one of the top medical schools in the country. The crowning achievement of the decade was the building of the Sterling Hall of Medicine and at the end of the decade, the Institute of Human Relations. John F. Fulton wrote of Dean Milton C. Winternitz with some exaggeration: "He is an amazing man; he has made the School what it is … Singlehanded he has planned, financed, and constructed this truly remarkable group of buildings, all in ten years."

Milton C. Winternitz, Dean 1920-1935

The son of a Czechoslovakian Jewish immigrant doctor, Winternitz grew up in Baltimore. He obtained his M.D. from Johns Hopkins in 1907 and stayed on as a member of William Henry Welch's Department of Pathology. No doubt Welch recommended his appointment as professor of pathology at Yale in 1917. Winternitz evoked strong emotions in his colleagues. To some he was brilliant, bold, and a "steam engine in pants," and to others he was an insufferable "martinet", a Napoleon, and an anti-Semite. Among his many achievements as dean were the building of Sterling Hall of Medicine and the Institute of Human Relations, the expansion of the New Haven Hospital buildings, the creation of departments and the filling out of the full-time system, the integration of the medical school and the graduate school, the founding of a department of psychiatry, the hiring of excellent faculty, and the creation of the Yale System of Medical Education. After Winternitz was forced by his colleagues to step down as dean in 1935, he continued on as chairman of pathology until his retirement in 1950, serving on numerous important medical school and university committees.


The Past Present & Future of the Yale University School of Medicine, 1922

Winternitz prepared this booklet describing the facilities, curriculum, and future needs of the Medical School, primarily for the benefit of Abraham Flexner and the General Education Board. He included this cartoon, drawn by longtime Medical School illustrator, Armin Hemberger, and previously sent to Flexner in 1920. It depicts the School of Medicine as a small craft rowed by two people in opposite directions, torpedoed on all sides, and saved only by the gift of a large sum of money from the General Education Board. By 1922, the School's fortunes had already changed. The G.E.B. had relieved the hospital of its immediate financial crisis, and Yale Corporation had agreed to build the Sterling Hall of Medicine using funds from the Sterling bequest.

The Past, Present & Future of the Yale University School of Medicine and Affiliated Clinical Institutions including the New Haven Hospital, the New Haven Dispensary, the Connecticut Training School for Nurses. New Haven: Printed for the University, 1922.


Progress of the School of Medicine, 1921

This issue of the Yale Alumni Weekly, dated 30 December 1921, describes the exciting progress of the Medical School. The article features the agreement with the hospital, the full-time system, the creation of departments (a university wide reorganization), and the plans to build Sterling Hall of Medicine.


Sterling Hall of Medicine, ca. 1925

The Sterling Hall of Medicine was one of Winternitz's greatest achievements. The original entry to the Sterling Hall of Medicine was on the corner of Cedar and Davenport Street (no longer extant). The building did not acquire its current façade until the Institute of Human Relations wing was added in 1931.


Dedication of Sterling Hall of Medicine, 1925

Sterling Hall of Medicine was built with funds from the Sterling bequest to Yale University. The keynote speakers at the dedication ceremony were Yale College alumni Harvey Cushing and William Henry Welch.


Department of Medicine, ca. 1922

The Department of Medicine under George Blumer was organized on a full-time basis in 1919-20. When Blumer stepped down as Dean and Chairman, Francis Blake was recruited. He brought with him from Johns Hopkins John Punnett Peters.

Front row: James G. Fox, Jr.; Harold M. Marvin,; Francis G. Blake, chairman; John Punnett Peters; and James D. Trask.


Department of Pediatrics, 1921-22

The Department of Pediatrics was organized on a full-time basis in 1921 with the appointment of Edwards Park, formerly at Johns Hopkins, as Chairman.

Top row: Ernest Caulfield, John C.S. Battey (?), Frank L. Babbot, Joseph Weiner.
Bottom row: Ruth A. Guy, Ethel C. Dunham, Grover F. Powers, Edwards Park, Alfred Theodore Shohl, Martha M. Eliot, Marian C. Putnam.

Women were on the faculty of the Medical School from the 1920s on -- Martha Eliot and Ethel Dunham had distinguished careers at Yale and at the U.S. Children's Bureau -- but no women were made full professors until 1965.


Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, 1921

The Department of Obstetrics was among the first departments organized and placed on a full-time basis. Arthur Henry Morse, who received his M.D. from Johns Hopkins, arrived at Yale as clinical professor in 1920 and became full-time professor and chairman of Obstetrics and Gynecology in 1921, a post he held until 1948.

First row: Mary Merrill, ---, Dr. Margaret Tyler, Dr. Arthur Morse, Dr. Luther Musselman, Helen Bray, Esther Swanson.
Second row: Sarah Brown (Martin), Edith Sheridan (Mr. Antz's assistant), Dr. Jachin Boaz Davis, Dr. (Frank Billings?) Standish, Dr. Richard Pullen, Margaret Hogan (Dr. Morse's secretary), Dorothy Mix (Dr. Abraham Creadick's secretary), Henry Antz.


Physiological Chemistry Research Group, 1921-22

Physiological Chemistry was headed by Lafayette B. Mendel (second row, center). The department became part of the Medical School in 1921 and moved into Sterling Hall of Medicine at its opening. Mendel graduated from Yale College in 1891 and received his Ph.D. in 1893. He joined the Yale faculty the following year. After advanced studies and research in Europe, Mendel was appointed assistant professor of physiological chemistry in 1897. He became a full professor in 1903 and served as chairman of the departments of Physiological Sciences from 1920 to 1932 and Physiological Chemistry from 1923 to 1934. In 1921, he was appointed one of the newly created Sterling professors. Recognized as a world authority on nutrition, Mendel was especially known for his pioneer work on the vitamins, particularly vitamin A. He also made notable contributions to the studies on the physiological chemistry of digestion, protein metabolism, physiology of growth and accessory food factors. In addition to training medical students, Mendel ran a large program of training graduate students. He was particularly noted as a mentor of women.


Class of 1924

By 1920 (Class of 1924), the number of entrants exceeded the number of places available and Winternitz could afford to be selective. Of 200 applicants, 56 were admitted. In the 1920s and 1930s, the number of women, Italian Catholics, and Jews accepted were deliberately limited, and no blacks were admitted.

The faculty in the first row include Winternitz, Francis Blake, Harry B. Ferris, and Edwards A. Park.



The Yale System of Medical Education

Winternitz instituted what has become known as the Yale System of Medical Education. Medical students were to be treated like graduate students, given freedom and responsibility to succeed in their education. Required course examinations and comparative grading were eliminated. Course requirements were made flexible and space was carved out in the curriculum to carry out original thesis research and to take electives. Shown here is the curriculum in 1925-26, the year that many of the changes associated with the Yale System took effect.


Pathology Department, 1925-26

The Pathology Department was led by Milton C. Winternitz (center, front row) from 1917 to 1950. In the front row on either side of Winternitz are Raymond Hussey, Associate Professor of Pathology from 1924 to 1927 and Professor from 1927 to 1936, and George H. Smith, Associate Professor of Bacteriology and Immunology, and after 1936, Professor of Immunology. Margaret C. Vickers was Research Assistant in Pathology and Helen May Scoville was an Instructor in Surgery and Pathology.


Grover Francis Powers, Professor of Pediatrics

Grover Powers, whom Edwards Park brought to Yale from Johns Hopkins in 1921, graduated from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in 1913. Before coming to Yale as assistant professor of pediatrics, he had been director of the infant feeding stations in Baltimore and chief pediatrician at the outpatient department at Hopkins. In 1927, he was promoted to full professor, a position he held until 1952. He chaired the Department of Clinical Medicine from 1940 to 1951. Powers became one of the foremost pediatric clinicians of his time and is especially noted for his contributions in the field of mentally retarded children. He received numerous awards, including the Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Award, the Borden Award, and the Howland Medal and Award.


Department of Surgery, 1931

The Department of Surgery was placed on a full-time basis in 1919-20. Samuel Clark Harvey (front row, third from left) served as chairman from 1921 to 1947. He was a 1911 graduate of the Yale School of Medicine.


Samuel Clark Harvey, Professor and Chairman of Surgery and Medical Historian

Samuel Clark Harvey, a native of Connecticut, received his M.D. from Yale in 1911. After training at the College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York, he was given a coveted appointment with Harvey Cushing at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston, and he served with Cushing in France during World War I. In 1920, he was appointed assistant professor of surgery at Yale and, four years later, became full professor and chairman of the Department of Surgery, a post he held with one brief interruption until 1947. A general surgeon, he was also considered one of the pioneers in neurosurgery as well as thoracic and vascular surgery. Harvey was a gifted teacher and developed a residency-training program that attracted graduates of high caliber from all over the country. His publications on the subject of wound healing are considered classics. After stepping down as chairman, he devoted himself to the study of malignant neoplastic disease. He also became editor of The Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine and, at the time of his death in 1953, was a member of the Department of the History of Medicine at Yale. The prestigious Harvey Lecture at the Medical School is given in his honor.


Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine, Vol 1, No. 1, October, 1928

The Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine is the only internationally recognized medical journal edited and published by students. Founded in 1928, the Journal in its first year of publication presented papers on infectious diseases, embryology, nutritional deficiency diseases, community health, trauma, medical history, and cancer. Today, the Journal continues to cover the breadth of medical science, including the publication of proceedings of international symposia and festschrifts honoring notable Yale medical faculty. The success and long history of the Journal can be attributed to the dedication of successive generations of Yale medical students and faculty. An editorial board of student editors assisted by faculty associate editors review and prepare the manuscripts for publication. The students gain experience and proficiency in scientific writing and editing, and they also become acquainted with the business side of publishing.


The Institute of Human Relations

The Institute of Human Relations was a controversial experiment in cooperative research for the betterment of society. Strongly supported by Winternitz, by Yale President James F. Angell (a psychologist by training), and by Robert Hutchinson, Dean of the Law School, the Institute brought together psychiatrists, psychologists, physiologists, sociologists, lawyers, physicians and others to carry out interdisciplinary research in the social sciences. They were housed in a major addition to the Sterling Hall of Medicine built by the Rockefeller Foundation and dedicated in 1931. The Rockefeller Foundation spent over 4.5 million on the Institute in its first decade. Influenced by the concept of "social medicine, " Winternitz saw medicine as a social science with a responsibility to the community. C.E.A. Winslow was a staunch ally, but others, such as Abraham Flexner, thought the Institute a pipe dream and the applied research inappropriate for a university. Historians continue to debate the success of the Institute idea at Yale.


Dedication of the Institute of Human Relations, 1931

Speakers at the dedication ceremony, held 9 May 1831, were left to right: Wilbur L. Cross, Governor of Connecticut; Ray Lyman Wilbur, Secretary of the Interior as representative of President Herbert Hoover; James R. Angell, Yale President; George E. Vincent, former president of the Rockefeller Foundation; and Milton C. Winternitz, Dean of the Medical School. The background is the new entrance to Sterling Hall of Medicine.


Psychiatry Group, ca. 1935

Winternitz had long wanted to create a Department of Psychiatry. Psychiatry had previously little role in the Medical School curriculum. The Department was initially part of the Institute of Human Relations and provided mental hygiene services for Yale College students as well as training of medical students. Eugen Kahn (third from left), chairman, was Sterling Professor of Psychiatry from 1930 to 1946.. Under Satnhope Bayne-Jones' Deanship, Psychiatry became a department in the Medical School like other departments.

Front Row: Lloyd James Thompson, Edwin Francis Gildea, Eugen Khan, Paul Preu.
Second Row: ---, ---, ---, ---, Helen Richter Gillmore, Warren Brown, Richard Newman, ---, ---, ---, --


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