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Health Sciences Historical Collection, 1767-2005 [Bulk Dates: 1867-2004].

Summary Information

At a Glance

Title:Health Sciences Historical Collection, 1767-2005 [Bulk Dates: 1867-2004].
Physical description:5.46 linear ft. (13 document boxes)
Language(s):In English


This collection has been arranged into six series:


Scope and Content

The Health Sciences Historical Collection documents the development of the College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University Medical Center, the School of Dental and Oral Surgery, Sloane Hospital for Women, Vanderbilt Clinic, the School of Nursing, and the Mailman School of Public Health. The collection is comprised of press releases, news clippings, alumni membership materials and mailings, administrative correspondence, minutes, commencement information, and publications that were once part of the Historical Subject Files Collection (UA#0002).

Series I: College of Physicians and Surgeons, 1876-2002

This series is comprised of records of the alumni association including meeting invitations, Executive Committee minutes, membership lists, and correspondence; press releases; course descriptions; histories and other publications; as well as internal reports exploring issues of medical education along with proposed affiliation agreements with the Presbyterian Hospital.

Series II: Columbia University Medical Center, 1876-2002

This series contains press clippings and press releases documenting the evolution of the medical center; reports considering the affiliation with the College of Physicians and Surgeons; and extensive materials from the twenty-fifth anniversary. There are meeting minutes of the Joint Advisory Board and site plans from the Joint Administration Board of the College of Physicians and Surgeons and Presbyterian Hospital.

Series III: School of Dental and Oral Surgery, 1916-2004

This series consists of administrative records from the Alumni Associations of the School of Dental and Oral Surgery and the School of Dental Hygienists along with press releases and newspaper clippings.

Series IV: Sloane Hospital for Women, 1951-1958

This contains records documenting the early years of the Sloane Hospital, pamphlets concerning human reproduction, transcripts of interviews with doctors, and a human reproduction survey questionnaire, along with responses.

Series V: Subject Files, 1767-2005

This series is comprised of miscellaneous files related to the Health Sciences. Files contain press clippings, printed matter, and some correspondence. Subjects include the Schools of Nursing and Public Health, the Departments of Pathology and Surgery, Long Island College Hospital, Harlem Hospital, and the Psychiatric Institute of New York (at Columbia).

Series VI: Vanderbilt Clinic, 1912-1916

This series consists of the correspondence of Dr. Francis Carter Wood, Secretary of the Board of Managers of the Vanderbilt Clinic and Director of Cancer Research at Columbia University. Subjects include tuberculosis, gonorrhea, syphilis, tonsil surgeries, and monetary donations to the Clinic, standards for different Clinics, remodeling and installations of equipment in the Clinic, and staff appointments and resignations. The correspondence also includes letters from doctors and leaders of the Associated Out-Patient Clinics of New York, as well as with Columbia University leaders, such President Nicholas Murray Butler.

Using the Collection

Access Restrictions

 This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least two business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Books and Manuscript Library reading room.

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. The RBML maintains ownership of the physical material only. Copyright remains with the creator and his/her heirs. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.

Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Health Sciences Historical Collection, 1815-2004 [1867-2004]; Box and Folder; University Archives, Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University in the City of New York.

Related Material

Central Files, 1890-1984, University Archives, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University.

Buildings & Grounds Collection, 1755-2012, University Archives, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University.

Related material can be found at: The Columbia University Health Sciences Library Archives & Special Collections Lower Level 1, Health Science Library, 701 West 168th Street, New York, NY 10032; Telephone: 212-305-7931; Email:

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Archives; machine readable finding aid created by Columbia University Libraries Digital Library Program Division

Processing Information

Processed 2003 Dan Mausner, Jocelyn Wilk, David Schmidt (CC 2006), Allison Chambers (GSAPP 2007).

Revised November 2003 by Jocelyn Wilk

Machine readable finding aid generated from MARC-AMC source via XSLT conversion September 9, 2016

Finding aid written in English.

    2016-09-09 xml document instance created by Carolyn Smith

Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches at Columbia University through the Archival Collections Portal and through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, as well as ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

All links open new windows.


HeadingCUL Archives:
CUL Collections:
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:
Columbia College (New York, NY)--Faculty of medicine.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Columbia Universit.--History--20th century.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Columbia University Medical Center.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Columbia University--College of Physicians and Surgeons.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Columbia University--School of Dental and Oral Surgery.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Columbia University--School of Medicine.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Columbia University--School of Nursing--History.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center--History.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Education, higher--United States--20th century.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Harlem Hospital Center (New York, N.Y.).PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Joseph L. Mailman School of Public Health.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Long Island College Hospital.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Medical Colleges--New York (State)--New York.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Medical Education--New York (State)--New York.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Medicine--Study and Teaching--New York (State)--New YorkPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Presbyterian Hospital (New York, N.Y.).PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Sloane Hospital for Women (New York, N.Y.)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Sloane Hospital for Women--History.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Vanderbilt Clinic (New York, N.Y.).PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Women's Hospitals--New York (State)--New York.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID

History / Biographical Note

Historical Note

College of Physicians and Surgeons

King's College established the second medical school in the thirteen colonies in 1767 and in 1770 was the first institution in the North American colonies to confer the Doctor of Medicine degree. Instruction ceased during the Revolutionary War, when King's College closed entirely. The College reopened as Columbia in 1784, but the medical faculty was not revived until 1791. It failed to thrive, graduating only 35 students between 1793 and 1813. In 1814, after years of decline, the medical faculty of Columbia College was merged with the College of Physicians and Surgeons (CP&S), which had been chartered by the New York State Board of Regents in 1807. In 1860 CP&S severed its relationship with the Board of Regents and nominally associated itself with Columbia College.

After several short-lived sites in Lower Manhattan, in 1813 CP&S occupied a building on Barclay Street just off Broadway near City Hall. It remained there until 1837 when it moved to Crosby Street in what is now SoHo. In 1856 the College moved to a newly constructed building at the corner of 23rd Street and Fourth Avenue (now Park Avenue South). Though state-of-the-art at the time it was built, by the 1880s the 23rd Street building was inadequate for the College's needs. A generous gift from William Henry Vanderbilt of $300,000 and most of a block bounded by West 59th and West 60th Streets and 9th and 10th Avenues (now Columbus and Amsterdam) enabled CP&S to occupy a new building there in 1887.

By the late nineteenth century, leaders of both CP&S and Columbia College began to recognize the benefits of an absolute merger: Columbia needed the medical school to implement the university status it craved, and CP&S needed the money to run its new facilities as well as a university affiliation to reinforce its new standards of medical education. Thus in 1891, by agreement between the Trustees of the two institutions, the College of Physicians and Surgeons merged with Columbia, becoming the "the Faculty of Medicine of Columbia College." In 1928, CP&S occupied its present quarters at the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center on West 168th Street. Now considered the Faculty of Medicine, the College of Physicians and Surgeons is an integral part of the University.

Columbia University Medical Center

By the turn of the twentieth century, leaders of American medical education realized that the effective education of future physicians required extensive clinical experience. Unlike their European counterparts, however, hospitals in the United States did not allow medical students free access to their wards. To get around this obstacle some medical schools, most notably Johns Hopkins and the University of Pennsylvania, established their own hospitals, but for most the cost was prohibitive. The alternative to the creation of a new hospital was to merge with an existing institution, and it was this strategy that resulted in the creation of the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center.

In the early 1900s, Samuel Lambert, dean of CP&S, had hoped to forge an alliance with Roosevelt Hospital, which was across the street from the school's West 59th Street campus. He had the support of philanthropist and Roosevelt trustee Edward S. Harkness, who was prepared to offer one million dollars to the hospital to realize the affiliation. When Roosevelt's board turned down the proposal not once, but twice--the second time in 1910--Harkness resigned and joined the Board of Presbyterian Hospital.

Presbyterian Hospital, founded by famed book collector and philanthropist James Lenox, opened on Manhattan's East 70th Street in 1872. The hospital was state of the art for its time and was explicitly dedicated to serving the "poor of New York without regard to race, creed, or color." Harkness seized the opportunity and made a generous monetary offer to Presbyterian Hospital, which accepted it in 1911. The First Agreement of Alliance of 1911 between Columbia University and Presbyterian Hospital lapsed in 1918 after years of wrangling between the University and the hospital. CP&S dean William Darrach successfully smoothed the waters upon his appointment in 1919, and a Second Agreement of Alliance was signed in 1921. The Medical Center was an affiliation, not a merger, and "the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center" was a geographical expression, not a corporate entity. Though friction between Columbia and Presbyterian varied in intensity, it was a constant over many years.

To house the new "Medical Center," Harkness and his mother, Mrs. Stephen S. Harkness, donated 22 acres in Washington Heights to Columbia University and Presbyterian Hospital. Groundbreaking took place in January 1925 followed by three and a half years of construction. On October 12, 1928 the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center--the world's first medical center to combine complete patient care, medical education, and research facilities in a single complex--was officially established. Joining the Center were the Vanderbilt Clinic and Sloane Hospital for Women. In ensuing years, many other institutions found themselves affiliating with the newly created Medical Center: previously independent Babies Hospital and the Neurological Institute merged with Presbyterian at the end of 1942. In 1950 New York Orthopaedic Hospital moved to the Medical Center after merging with Presbyterian Hospital in 1945; and in the same year Francis Delafield Hospital, a municipal hospital for cancer patients staffed by Columbia University faculty, opened adjacent to the Medical Center (in 1975 it closed after 25 years of service); 1962 brought affiliation of the medical school with Harlem Hospital. New York Hospital and Presbyterian Hospital merged on December 31, 1997 to form New York-Presbyterian Hospital.

In 2003, Columbia University Health Sciences Division changed its name to Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC). CUMC is comprised of four schools: College of Physicians & Surgeons, School of Dental & Oral Surgery, School of Nursing, and Mailman School of Public Health.

School of Dental and Oral Surgery

Columbia's dental school was the fruit of an effort by a group of influential New York dentists, physicians, and scientists who formed the Committee for a Columbia University Dental School. Along with Dr. William J. Gies, the group included brothers Henry Sage Dunning and William Bailey Dunning, Arthur H. Merritt, Henry S. Vaughn, Leuman M. Waugh, and William Jarvie. Most dental schools at the turn of the twentieth century were not affiliated with universities and the committee considered the typical dental schools to be low-grade trade schools with weak educational programs. Committee members wanted dental students to be in a university environment where they would study the basic sciences in joint classes with medical students. Columbia, with its College of Physicians & Surgeons, had precisely what they wanted.

Columbia's dental school officially opened as the School of Dentistry on September 27, 1916 at the CP&S buildings located at 437 West 59th Street. The inaugural class had two students, both in a six-year combined M.D. and D.D.S. program. It was the first dental school to require all incoming students to have completed two years of university education. In 1931, it was the first to increase the requirement to three years of pre-professional university education.

The school merged with the 300-student College of Dental and Oral Surgery of New York on July 1, 1923. The new entity, known as the Columbia University School of Dental and Oral Surgery, had two buildings on East 34th and East 35th Streets and a 164-chair clinic. In 1928 the school moved to occupy the top floors of the Vanderbilt Clinic at the Medical Center.

Sloane Hospital for Women

After William Henry Vanderbilt's death in 1885, his children endowed patient care facilities at the new campus of CP&S on West 59th Street for which their father had given the land and funding. William D. Sloane and his wife, Emily Thorn Sloane, the daughter of William Henry Vanderbilt and the granddaughter of Cornelius Vanderbilt, established the Sloane Maternity Hospital. It opened in 1887 with the goal of creating a modern institution to treat women and educate obstetricians. The facility became a model for excellent obstetric care.

Under the two-decade leadership of Dr. Edwin Bradford Cragin, who became director in 1898, Sloane became the first hospital in the United States to link obstetrics with gynecology. In the 1910s, Sloane's name was changed to The Sloane Hospital for Women. "There is no maternity hospital in New York City which begins to compare with Sloane in size, building or appointments," a New York State Board of Charities inspector reported. "It is maintained in excellent order, and is run . . . with much of the perfection of a machine."

As part of the agreement of alliance between the University and Presbyterian Hospital, Columbia divested itself of its clinical care units and in 1925 Sloane became an integral part of Presbyterian as its Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, though the Sloane name has been retained to the present day. In 1928 Sloane Hospital moved to quarters in the newly created Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center, and accommodated both obstetrics and gynecological patients.

Throughout the twentieth century, Sloane would be a leader in the obstetrics and gynecological fields. Among its many achievements over the years, Sloane was the first to perform amniocentesis, the first to perform surgery on a fetus in utero, and had the first in vitro fertilization birth in the New York-New Jersey-Connecticut area.

Vanderbilt Clinic

At the same time that Emily Thorn Vanderbilt Sloane and her husband were endowing the Sloane Maternity Hospital, her four brothers funded the Vanderbilt Clinic in memory of their father, William Henry Vanderbilt. It opened in 1887 on the new West 59th Street campus of CP&S.

The sons saw a need for providing the "medical and surgical treatment of out-door patients, for the necessary accommodation of clinical professors and for all the general and special clinic instruction in the College [of Physicians and Surgeons]." The addition of Vanderbilt to CP&S provided valuable clinical experience for its students. Vanderbilt became an important clinic for research and teaching in New York City when it was just a part of CP&S.

As with Sloane, the University turned over Vanderbilt to Presbyterian Hospital in 1925. It became the Hospital's outpatient/emergency clinic and retains its name to the present day.

School of Nursing

Originally founded as the Presbyterian Hospital School of Nursing in 1892 under the direction of Anna C. Maxwell, the School of Nursing was brought under the auspices of Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons [Faculty of Medicine] in 1937 as the Department of Nursing. Baccalaureate degrees were awarded for the first time in 1940 and the Master of Science Program--the first in the nation--was inaugurated in 1955, with the first master's degree awarded in 1956. In the fall of 1993 the School began offering students a program leading to the Doctor of Nursing Science (D.N.Sc.) degree--the first such program in the New York Metropolitan area. This new degree was created with the intention of not only graduating clinical experts, but authorities in health policy matters as well. The first clinical nursing doctorate in the nation, the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DrNP), was established in 2005.

From its inception the school's mission has been the preparation of clinical nursing practitioners, clinical nurse specialists and scholars. It has long held a leadership position in the preparation of advanced clinical practitioners. In 1974 the school's name was changed again to the Columbia University School of Nursing. Men were first enrolled in the 1970s and the 1980s saw the development of an innovative new curriculum. Since its original inception, the School of Nursing has graduated more than 7,000 students. In 1928 the school moved from its original home on East 70th Street to its present location at the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center on 168th Street and Broadway.

Mailman School of Public Health

By the turn of the twentieth century there was a tremendous and recognized need for specialized training in public health. The Faculty of Medicine of Columbia responded to this need by drawing up plans for a separate school of Sanitary Science and Public Health. A 1919 bequest by Joseph R. DeLamar made possible the creation of what was then called the DeLamar Institute of Public Health in 1921; Dr. Haven Emerson was its first director. In 1945 the Institute became known as the School of Public Health of Columbia University. When Columbia's Institute of Administrative Medicine was merged into the University's School of Public Health in 1955, the school's name changed once again, becoming the School of Public Health and Administrative Medicine. The school reverted to being called The School of Public Health in 1972/1973. The school received a gift of 33 million dollars--the largest single gift ever made to a school of public health--in 1998 from the New York City-based Mailman Foundation, Inc. This generous gift was made in honor of the late Joseph Lawrence Mailman, a son of immigrants who became a prominent investor and philanthropist. As part of that honor, the school's name was changed to The Joseph L. Mailman School of Public Health of Columbia University.

Despite all the various name changes, the School of Public Health has been, and continues to be, dedicated to the concept of disease prevention and the promotion of health. Housed in the heart of the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center at West 168th Street, the School draws on the vast resources of the Medical Center, Columbia University, and the City of New York Health Department for its teaching, research, and public service programs.