Exhibits @ Medical Historical Library
Harvey Cushing/John Hay Whitney Medical Library

Harvey Cushing: A Journey Through His Life

Back to Yale, 1933-1939

According to the retirement rules Cushing himself had helped to set, he was to retire from Peter Bent Brigham Hospital at the age of 63. Showered with offers, including remaining at Harvard, he finally chose to return to Yale as Sterling Professor of Neurology (he preferred Neurology to Neurosurgery because he no longer felt in good enough health to operate). Though Cushing did not teach or do his own operations at Yale, he took part in a variety of Yale activities and was able to complete a number of major writing projects. At the time of his death, he was working on his A Bio-Bibliography of Andreas Vesalius. Moreover, he initiated the project, with Fulton and Klebs, of pooling their rare medical books to give to Yale if Yale would build a library to house them. Cushing’s lobbying among the administration and Corporation led to the decision to build a new medical library (medical books and journals were previously in Sterling Memorial Library) with a wing devoted to the Historical Library. Cushing heard that building would begin just before he died of a heart attack on October 7, 1939. Cushing’s Yale class of 1891, celebrating their 50th reunion, paid for the decoration of the Library rotunda. His Yale classmate and longtime friend, Grover Atterbury was the architect of the Library.

Cushing's Change of Address Card

Harvey and Kate Cushing arrived in New Haven in late 1933.





With His Book Collection, New Haven

Cushing brought his extensive rare book collection with him to New Haven. This photograph was taken in his home on Whitney Avenue.

Croquet Game at the Cushing Home

In New Haven, Harvey and Kate Cushing rented a home at 691 Whitney Avenue (no longer standing) where they enjoyed playing croquet on the lawn. Kate Cushing is to the left.

Cushing’s Office

Cushing was given a very large office in the New Haven Hospital. This image shows only part of the space.


Harvey and Kate Cushing

This is one of very few images of Harvey and Kate Cushing as a couple.

Monograph on the Meningiomas, 1938

When Cushing moved to New Haven, Louise Eisenhardt moved too, along with the Brain Tumor Registry containing Cushing’s specimens of tumors and brains, photographs, and copies of patient records for all his cases, materials vital to completing this monograph. Michael Bliss writes of it: “In thirty-two chapters, comprising 741 pages of text, with hundreds of photographs, sketches, and tables, the authors told the complete history of Cushing’s thirty-year assault on the class of tumors which had most interested him and which he had named…Meningiomas was haled by reviewers as a masterpiece…”

Harvey Cushing with the collaboration of Louise Eisenhardt, Meningiomas, Their Classification, Regional Behavior, Life History and Surgical end Results . Springfield, Ill.: Charles C Thomas, 1938.

Honorary Degree from Oxford, 1938

 This photograph, labeled by Cushing, shows the gathering of notable scientists from Europe and America at Balliol College, Oxford to celebrate Cushing’s receiving the Doctor of Sciences “honoris causis.” Cushing is in the front row wearing an academic gown. This was only one of many honorary degrees awarded to Cushing. Cushing’s robe from the University of Edinburgh (1927) is on display in the hallway leading to the Historical Library. The shields in this Library rotunda where you are standing are of universities who granted Cushing honorary degrees.


Seventieth Birthday Party, 1939

The Harvey Cushing Society, formed in 1932 by younger neurosurgeons in Cushing’s honor, planned their annual meeting for 1939 to be held in New Haven and to coincide with Harvey Cushing’s 70 th Birthday. At the formal dinner, Cushing was seated next to Arnold Klebs, who came over for the occasion from Switzerland as a special guest, and Louise Eisenstadt, Curator of the Brain Tumor Registry. In this photograph, Eisenstadt presents Cushing with the gift of Bibliography of the Writings of Harvey Cushing, prepared by the Harvey Cushing Society and published by Charles C Thomas.


Seventieth Birthday Souvenir

Souvenir volume showing the attendees at the Harvey Cushing Society meeting in New Haven, April 7, 1939. Cushing’s actual 70 th birthday was April 8.


Cushing: A Journey Through His Life

in the Cushing Rotunda

Cushing Rotunda

The rotunda of the Yale Medical Library (now the Cushing/Whitney Medical Library) is decorated in honor of Harvey Cushing and was the gift of Cushing's Class of 1891 which was celebrating its 50th reunion. The architect was Grover Atterbury, Cushing's classmate friend since college. The words below the balcony read "This Rotunda is Dedicated to Harvey Cushing Inspiring Teacher Pathfinder in Neurosurgery Master of the Science and Art of Healing." The seals just below the balcony are of universities that awarded Cushing honorary degrees. The Library was dedicated in conjunction with the reunion on June 15, 1941.


Harvey Cushing: A Life in Surgery

Michael Bliss’s new biography of Harvey Cushing is the first full-length scholarly biography to appear since John Fulton’s and Elizabeth Thomson’s biographies of 1946 and 1950. Although there have been a huge number of articles written on Cushing, no one before Dr. Bliss has undertaken the daunting task of going through the wealth of papers Cushing left behind, as well as the papers of many of his contemporaries. His highly readable biography provides fascinating new perspectives on Cushing’s formidable achievements and on his personality. The book is a companion to Bliss’s William Osler: A Life in Medicine. Historian Michael Bliss is University Professor at the University of Toronto.

Michael Bliss, Harvey Cushing; A Life in Surgery. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005 and Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2005.

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