Connecticut and New Haven's First General Hospital

Knight Hospital and the Civil War

Late Nineteenth-Century Expansion and the Founding of Grace Hospital

The Connecticut Training School for Nurses and the Dispensary

The Founding of the Hospital of Saint Raphael

For-Profit Private Hospitals in New Haven

New Haven Hospital, 1900-1920

New Haven, Grace, and Saint Raphael, 1920s and 1930s

Grace-New Haven Community Hospital and the Hospital of Saint Raphael, 1940s and 1950s

Yale-New Haven Hospital and the Hospital of Saint Raphael, 1960s to the Present

Cushing/Whitney Medical Library

Historical Library

Yale-New Haven Hospital

St. Raphael Healthcare System


New Haven's Hospitals, was originally on display in the rotunda of the Cushing/Whitney Medical Library from May to September 2000. It features photographs and ephemera related to the origins, early years, and complex interactions of the city's many hospitals and their relations to Yale University. It is the first in a planned series of Yale Tercentennial Exhibits in the rotunda of the Library.

New Haven's Hospitals was curated jointly by Toby Appel, Historical Librarian of the Cushing/Whitney Medical Library, Shari Laist, former Archivist for the St. Raphael Healthcare System, and Allison Carboni, former Archivist of Yale-New Haven Hospital, and highlights the wealth of material available for historical research in these three collections. Gillian Goldsmith Mayman, Toby Appel, Mona Florea, and Allison Carboni prepared the Web adaptation.


Connecticut and New Haven's First General Hospital

Hospitals in the Nineteenth-Century

New Haven's first hospital, now Yale-New Haven Hospital, was opened in 1833, the fifth general hospital in the United States. A 19th century hospital was predominantly a charity institution, although from the beginning, some patients paid for their stay. It was intended for the worthy poor, for sailors, and for other strangers in town. People of means, such as the donors who who were members of the General Hospital Society of Connecticut, would receive medical care in their homes, and not in a hospital. The hospital as yet offered no advantages over home care. Physicians served in the hospital without salary on a rotating basis as attending physicians. They did so as a form of charity and civic duty, but hospital service also provided valuable experience, professional recognition, and the possibility of training students in the wards. A major impetus for forming a hospital in New Haven was to provide clinical experience for students in the Medical Institution of Yale College, now the Yale School of Medicine, chartered in 1810 and opened in 1813. The Hospital had no formal arrangement with the medical school, nor did the medical school provide clinical training as part of its curriculum. However, the school's professors were usually among the appointed attending physicians. It was still expected that students would obtain practical experience by apprenticeship to a preceptor.

The illustration shows a ward in the Hospital in the late 19th century.

Historical Library, Cushing/Whitney Medical Library


Charter of the General Hospital Society of Connecticut, 1826

The project to open a hospital in New Haven was discussed in May 1826 at a meeting of the New Haven County Medical Association and a petition was presented to the Connecticut General Assembly. The charter, approved by the Assembly on May 26, 1826, established a membership organization called the General Hospital Society of Connecticut, for the purpose of "establishing and maintaining a general Hospital in the city of New Haven." Of the ten incorporators listed, four were professors at the Medical School, five were community physicians, and only one was a layman. The Hospital was to be managed by a Board of Directors, some selected based on the amount of their donations, and others elected. A Prudential Committee of three would handle financial concerns and a Visiting Committee of six would make frequent visits to the hospital and report problems to the Prudential Committee. Those who donated $100 or more could nominate one person for a free bed in the hospital for six weeks in each year. The Connecticut Medical Society encouraged the project; its president and fellows were declared by the charter of the General Hospital Society of Connecticut to be ex-officio members of the Hospital Society.

Historical Library, Cushing/Whitney Medical Library


Membership Certificate, 1834

It took several years to raise sufficient money for a building. In comparison to other cities with hospitals -- Philadelphia, New York and Boston -- New Haven was a small port town of less than 10,000 inhabitants. After repeated requests by the directors, the state donated $5,000. The Yale medical school faculty members each pledged ten percent of their annual income or a minimum of $100 a year for five years and the Connecticut Medical Society donated the examination fees it collected from medical graduates. Also an arrangement was made with the United States government that the Hospital would receive the port fees paid by sailors in New Haven in return for free medical care in the hospital. With these promises and the funds raised among the citizens of New Haven and surrounding towns, plans could proceed to purchase land and build a hospital. The Hospital opened in 1833.

This certificate issued to John Skinner in 1834 shows an image of the Hospital building at the top. For a donation of $20, Skinner became a member for life of the General Hospital Society of Connecticut.

Historical Library, Cushing/Whitney Medical Library


The State Hospital, Opened in 1833

After much debate over where to build the hospital, the directors decided to purchase a seven-acre plot of land between Cedar and Howard Streets. This was far from the location of the medical school, which was then on Grove Street. The building, designed by Ithiel Town, and built at a cost of about $13,000, was a three-story structure, made of stone covered with stucco, facing Cedar Street. Opened in 1833, it could accommodate about 75 patients. In the early years, there were not enough patients to fill the Hospital and rooms were let out to others. By the 1850s, the space was reclaimed for the use of patients.

This early image of the Hospital, known as the State Hospital, appeared in E. Porter Belden, Sketches of Yale College, New York, 1843.

Historical Library, Cushing/Whitney Medical Library


Circular Requesting Funds Signed by Jonathan Knight, 1850s

This brochure signed by Jonathan Knight, a member of the Yale medical faculty and president of the Board of Directors of the Hospital, requested the financial support of the citizens of New Haven. Because of limited resources, the Hospital had been unable to provide free services for many patients who needed them. Most patients had to be charged $3.00 a week for their board, medical attendance, and medicines. The State had recently provided $2,000 a year for "the support of indigent patients from every part of the State." To accommodate them, "large additions needed to be made to the furniture and other conveniences of the Hospital." Knight called upon the benevolence of the citizens "to supply the wants of an institution whose object is to relieve those who more than any others need our sympathy--the sick poor."

Historical Library, Cushing/Whitney Medical Library