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Beneath the Surface: Watermarks and Flayed Figures in Cushing’s Manuscript of Jacob van der Gracht

26 July 2016 - 10:31am by Andy Hickner

(by Erin Travers*)

An image from Gracht Anatomie

Drawing after Jacob van der Gracht's Third Figure, Cushing Manuscript, Yale University. Early-18th century. Red and Black Chalk

On the back of a letter from the antiquarian and bookseller Menno Hertzberger, dated 29 March 1927, Harvey Cushing recorded his observations concerning a manuscript of Jacob van der Gracht’s printed drawing book, the Anatomy of the outer parts of the human body (The Hague, 1634; Rotterdam, 1660), which had been sent to Boston from Amsterdam. This text, prepared by the seventeenth-century Dutch painter and engraver for the use of “Painters, Sculptors, Engravers, and also Surgeons,” brought Van der Gracht renown during his life, and continues to be his most well known work today. The manuscript version contains twenty-two pages of text and illustration, including a handwritten version of Van der Gracht’s preface, a section on the bones taken from André du Laurens, fragmented comments on the muscles, and explanatory registers for the accompanying illustrations of skeletal and écorché figures that mimic those published in Andreas Vesalius’s De Humani Corporis Fabrica (Basel, 1543). Hopeful that the drawings may have been preparatory works for the engraved plates, on inspection, Cushing found that the use of red and black chalk to demarcate the flesh and bones of the figures, while visually pleasing, was not conducive to the medium of print. Moreover, he writes that the larger scale of the figures and the presence of the registers on the back of the illustrations, made it unlikely that these were the final cartoons from which Van der Gracht worked, though they may have been an earlier experiment by the seventeenth-century Dutch artist. Contemplating whether a previous owner may have added the text to the illustrations at a later date, Cushing noted, “The paper, however, in the original seven leaves of text bears the same watermarks as that on which the drawings are made. It would be interesting to know the date and place of this paper.”

During my time at the Harvey Cushing/John Hay Whitney Medical Library at Yale University as a Ferenc Gyorgyey Travel Research Grant recipient, I have pursued Cushing’s curiosity and investigated the watermarks hidden in the paper of the Van der Gracht manuscript to determine the date and location of its production.  Using online databases, including the Memory of Paper, ( compiled by the Bernstein Consortium, my research makes use of resources that were not available to Cushing in the early twentieth century. Moreover, it is only with the relatively recent publications on Dutch watermarks, such as Theo and Frans Laurentius’s study of the Zeeland archives, or Nancy Ash, Shelley Fletcher, and Erik Hinterding’s works on Rembrandt’s prints, that this type of research is possible. Yet, despite the advances made in this field since the early twentieth century, this method for dating a work on paper should be approached with caution, as the medium is both geographically and temporally transient, and therefore should be considered as a general guide for attribution.

Fleur-de-lys watermark
Fleur-de-lys watermark

"IV" countermark
"IV" countermark

Together, watermark analysis and study of the formal properties of the drawings offers complementary evidence through which we can determine the relation of the manuscript to the published drawing book. The Cushing manuscript offers a clean and consistent watermark of a Strasbourg Bend, a shield with two diagonal bands that is mounted by a fleur-de-lis, and a countermark of the letters “IV."  Indicting the initials of the paper maker Jean Villedary (1668-1758), the countermark, design of the watermark, their size and relation to the vertical chain lines of the paper are consistent with samples dating from Amsterdam and London between 1718 and 1722, making it likely that the manuscript was produced in the first quarter of the eighteenth century (Churchill, no. 437 and Heaward, nos. 73 and 78). Given this date, the possibility that the drawings could have been executed prior to the publication of the printed text is unlikely, and visual analysis of the figures confirms this hypothesis. The process of engraving in the early modern period entailed the incision of a design into a copper plate, which was coated with ink and then pressed onto a piece of paper, transferring the image and resulting in the reversal of the initial example. Essentially, the preparatory work and final print should appear as mirror images of one another. However, in the case of the Cushing manuscript, the figures share the orientation found in the final prints. 

Carefully adhering to the model provided by the prints, the drawn figures that occupy the Cushing manuscript are copies made at a later date, and as such offer information concerning the continued engagement with and changing expectations of these types of illustrations by artists and anatomists. Questions concerning this shift are addressed in my on-going dissertation research, which examines the exchange and adaptation of pictorial knowledge between artists and anatomists in the seventeenth-century Netherlands. I am grateful to the Cushing/Whitney Medical Library for its support of my project, and greatly appreciate the opportunity to investigate an inquiry first raised by Cushing nearly one hundred years ago.

Erin Travers

*Erin Travers is a PhD candidate, history of art and architecture, University of California, Santa Barbara, and a 2016 Ferenc Gyorgyey Fellow

The Library at 75: Remembering the first PC in the library

22 July 2016 - 4:22pm by Andy Hickner

The First PC in the Library : Looking back as we celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the Cushing/Whitney Medical Library from Lei Wang on Vimeo.

As part of our 75th anniversary commemorations, we recently sat down with retired Library Director Kenny Marone and Assistant Director Jan Glover to talk about some of their memories of decades past and to learn how the Library has changed over the years.  In this excerpt from their conversation, Kenny and Jan reminisce about when the first PC came to the Library.  Watch more 75th anniversary video interviews, and share your own stories, at

YaleNews article on the Library's 75th anniversary

24 June 2016 - 9:11am by Andy Hickner

We enjoyed the YaleNews' story on the Library this week in commemoration of our 75th anniversary.  In addition to outlining the history of the Library's founding, author Mike Cummings interviewed faculty members and Library Director John Gallagher to highlight some of our current priorities and activities:

“We see ourselves as partners in research,” Gallagher said, adding that the library not only assists researchers in accessing information and data but also in advising them on how to manage both — which is important because funding organizations increasingly require making the findings of sponsored research available for use by others.

(Dr Paul) Barash, who uses the library several times a week, praised the library’s willingness and ability to adapt and tailor its service to meet the needs of researchers and clinicians.

“They’ve kept up,” he said.  “You can’t necessarily say that about every institution at Yale, but the library has done a great job of adapting its resources and services.”

Check out the full article here.

2016 Journal Citation Reports released

23 June 2016 - 4:20pm by Andy Hickner

The 2016 update of the Journal Citation Reports (JCR) is now available. The JCR provide annual metrics for peer-reviewed journals, including Journal Impact Factors (JIF) and other data that can be used to evaluate a journal's impact on its field.  Click here for the full press release from JCR publisher Thomson Reuters and click here to access the JCR (you must be on the Yale network).  You can learn more about the JCR and other journal-level metrics of research impact by watching our video tutorial on the topic. 

Winners of the "Happy birthday, Harvey" Instagram contest

20 June 2016 - 9:54am by Andy Hickner

(by Melissa Grafe and Charlotte Abney Solomon)
In celebration of Harvey Cushing's birthday on April 8th and the Medical Library’s 75th Anniversary, the Medical Historical Library invited all Instagram users visiting the Harvey Cushing/John Hay Whitney Medical Library at Yale to share their best photos taken within our space. Contestants used the hashtag #HappyBirthdayHarvey and tagged our account, @yalemedhistlib. On display are the winners of the Instagram Challenge.
Jon Rolfe's photo
Brainiest Instagram: Best photo taken in the Cushing Center
@rolfoid- Jon Rolfe
Jon commented on his photograph that “The Cushing Center is a fun place for brainy Yale students.”

Anna Ziganshina
Most Studious Instagram: Best photo taken while studying in the library- Honorable mention
@annapziganshina- Anna Ziganshina
Anna tells us that "it is never too early to learn."
Diane DiFazio's photo
Judges’ Favorite Instagram: Best photo overall
@archibrarian- Diane DiFazio
What inspired Diane to take this particular photo: 
“A few things: I expected a beautiful reading space at YMHL, but I'm often drawn to the details, and the metalwork in the Library caught my attention, so I took this photo because it represented medicine (hello, rod of Asclepius!), as well as the distinctive bookcases, other Tudor-style interior details, natural lighting, and bi-level space. My background's in architecture and I'm a librarian, so it was thrilling to be in a space that was both well-designed and inspiring; the Library continues the architectural traditions of great libraries. (And, I love how Harvey Cushing's ideas were realized by his friend and former classmate, architect Grosvenor Atterbury.) I thought the balustrades around the mezzanine (in the rotunda, too) were interesting, but I didn't realize how cool Atterbury's design really was until later! I thought, "Neat, I wonder if that's wrought iron," but later read that the railings are aluminum ... with decorative steel cutouts (!), and that it was all designed to mask lighting fixtures, which is such a fantastic modern way of the architect to handle things! So good.”Kevin Nguyen's photo
Happiest Birthday Instagram: Best selfie or other photo including an image of Harvey Cushing or the words “Happy Birthday Harvey”
@kevin.a.nguyen- Kevin Nguyen
With this selfie, Kevin noted, "Biology gives you a brain, but life transforms it into a mind."
Sona Ghorashi's photo
Most Collectible Instagram: Best photo taken of an image, book, or other item in any CWML current or historical collections
@sona.ghorashi- Sona Ghorashi
Sona accompanied her photograph with this comment: "A path to the light through the shadows, at the Medical library." 
Meg Ritchey's photo
Most Studious Instagram: Best photo taken while studying in the library
@magic_meg- Megan Ritchey
Megan captioned this lovely image of the Medical Historical Library with "The whole place to myself.”

"Exploration, Encounter, and Exchange with Harvey Cushing”: Theresa Barden's National History Day project

17 June 2016 - 4:43pm by Andy Hickner

By Terry Dagradi, Cushing Center Coordinator

Theresa Barden, a 9th grade student at Coventry High School, Rhode Island, visited the Cushing Center last year with her sister Mary Barden, a 4th year Yale medical student, and in her words "was amazed." Theresa decided to participate in this year’s National History Day, with the theme "Exploration, Encounter, and Exchange,” and did her project on Dr. Harvey Cushing. 

As the coordinator of the Cushing Center, I was happy to accept her request for an interview to answer questions regarding Harvey Cushing and the Cushing Tumor Registry. 

The results of her work are in!  See below, the photo of her impressive National History Day project.

Theresa Barden

"Thank you so much for your interview! I ended up placing in 1st for my division. (Senior individual exhibit). In the beginning of June, I'm going to Washington DC to compete in nationals. Thanks again!”  

Theresa Barden  - April 13, 2016

The Cushing Center is open for research!

2016-2017 Gyorgyey Fellows

15 June 2016 - 2:18pm by Andy Hickner

The Medical Historical Library, Cushing/Whitney Medical Library, is pleased to announce the following recipients of the Ferenc Gyorgyey Research Travel Award for 2016-2017:

Whitney Wood, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Department of History, Classics and Archaeology, Birbeck, University of London

A New Way to Birth?  Herbert Thoms and the International Natural Childbirth Movement

Whitney Wood’s research explores the natural childbirth movement in Canada.  As part of this research, Wood will be examining the Herbert Thoms papers (, as Thoms was an international leader in the movement and produced quite a bit of material on the topic of natural childbirth. Whitney Wood is planning to come to the Medical Historical Library in Spring 2017.

Erin Travers, Doctoral Candidate, History of Art and Architecture, University of California, Santa Barbara

Boundaries of the Body: The Art of the Anatomy in the Seventeenth-Century Netherlands

Erin Travers will be examining Dutch anatomies, particularly Jacob van der Gracht’s drawing book, Anatomie der wtterlicke deelen van het menschelick lichaem.  These anatomies form the basis of her dissertation.  She will at the Medical Historical Library July 18th-23rd, 2016.

Many thanks to the selection committee: John Warner and John Gallagher.

"Harvey Cushing and John Fulton: Two Founders Bonded By Science, Medicine, And Books": Full video of June 3 event now online

9 June 2016 - 9:14am by Andy Hickner

On June 3, 2016 the Cushing/Whitney Medical Library hosted a talk titled "Harvey Cushing and John Fulton: Two Founders Bonded By Science, Medicine, And Books."  The focus of this event was a conversation between Drs. Dennis D. Spencer and Gordon M. Shepherd, moderated by Cynthia Tsay, YSM ’18. The panel spoke about the personal and professional relationship of these men, and touched upon the founding of the Yale Medical Library and how they worked together to make it a reality.  You can now view the full video of the event online. 

At the post-lecture reception, we also took a few photos of attendees with Harvey Cushing himself:

Harvey Cushing

Dr. Cushing's great-grandson, Harvey Cushing

Dr. Frank Lobo and Sharon McManus

Dr. Dennis Spencer and Harvey Cushing

Susan Wheeler

Library Curator of Prints and Drawings Susan Wheeler

L to R: John Gallagher, Cushing's great-great-grandson Kevin Cushing, Dr. Gordon Shepherd, Cushing's granddaughter Kate Whitney, Dr. Dennis Spencer, Cynthia Tsay

SCOPA Lunch & Learn, June 8 at 1pm

2 June 2016 - 4:46pm by Andy Hickner

(by Katie Hart)

Librarians attending MLA 2016

Librarians attending the Medical Library Association Annual meeting in May.  Left to right:  Andy Hickner, Denise Hersey, Nathan Rupp, Holly Grossetta Nardini, Rolando Garcia Milian, Mark Gentry. 

You’re invited to a SCOPA sponsored Lunch & Learn at the Cushing/Whitney Medical Library on June 8th at 1pm. Join us to hear recent presentations given at the Medical Library Association annual conference. Please feel free to bring a lunch or perhaps make a stop at the famous medical school carts. The four presentations we will be reprising for you are:

Design, Implementation, and Evaluation of a Medical Library Program to Support Biomedical Research in the 'Omics Era – Rolando Garcia-Milian (presenting), Janis Glover, and John Gallagher.

This presentation discusses the strategies used to design and implement our end-user bioinformatics support program. It also provides results on training, resources, tools, and services available to Yale biomedical researchers. Access the report here:  and our resources here:

Putting the Pieces Together: Finding a Point-of-Care Solution for an Academic Medical Center – Denise Hersey (presenting), Mark Gentry, Janene Batten, Nathan Rupp, and Holly Grossetta Nardini.

The Cushing/Whitney Medical Library assembled a task force composed of librarians, physicians, nurses, and hospital IT staff to compare and evaluate DynaMed Plus and UpToDate – two resources used at the beside to provide clinical care – and then recommend which product best meets the needs of our associated hospitals, informing the subscription renewal process for 2016-2017.

The Yale Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) Analyzer: A New Tool for Search Refinement – Holly Grossetta Nardini and Lei Wang.

The presentation describes our MeSH analysis methodology, a technique that helps craft more comprehensive searches, and the use of a new tool that saves time by doing this analysis automatically. The Yale MeSH Analyzer helps refine searches, particularly those where indexing is challenging, by creating a quick, scannable grid of MeSH terms for easy review.

Using Omeka for Online Exhibits – Andy Hickner (presenting), Melissa Grafe, Kerri Sancomb, and Francesca Livermore (5 minute lightning talk).

Omeka is a web publishing platform for online exhibitions. Andy will describe how Yale University Libraries conducted a pilot of Omeka for the Libraries’ online exhibition needs and share lessons from our experience.

See you there!

Cushing/Whitney Medical Library welcomes our new director, John Gallagher

10 May 2016 - 1:23pm by Andy Hickner

John Gallagher

The Cushing/Whitney Medical Library is delighted to announce the appointment of our new director, John Gallagher.

John joined the staff of the Yale Library in 1999 as a library services assistant in the Library Shelving Facility. He moved to the Medical Library in 2000 where he took the position of evening & weekend circulation supervisor, and was quickly promoted to the head of the circulation department. After completion of his Masters of Library Science in 2004, John was promoted again to the head of Access and Delivery Services. He was instrumental in pioneering and establishing the Scan on Demand service at the Cushing/Whitney Medical Library, which evolved into the Scan and Deliver service for the wider Yale Library system. He served as the library liaison to the Department of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation and co-chaired the library’s joint Department Committee for Best Practices, a university-wide initiative to foster and promote better management/labor relations and collaboration through interest-based problem solving. During this time, John also chaired a management/labor Access Services Assessment Task Force that reduced check-in errors at all libraries.

As deputy director for Public Services and later associate director, John oversaw the completion of a number of major medical library renovations, including a complete renovation of the Medical Historical Library’s rare book stacks and staff areas, the construction of a Secure Reading Room, and the construction of the Cushing Center.

In 2012, John was selected to participate in the National Library of Medicine/Association of Academic Health Sciences Libraries’ Leadership Fellowship Program. John's participation in this prestigious and highly competitive program gives testimony to the quality of his leadership abilities.

Susan Gibbons, University Librarian and Deputy Provost for Libraries & Scholarly Communication commented, "John’s appointment is fantastic. Not only do we add a talented colleague to the library’s senior leadership team, but John’s career demonstrates the opportunities for career advancement at Yale University Library."

Even with all his responsibilities, John has an open door policy and welcomes staff to share their thoughts, ideas and feelings with him. John is a mentor, teacher, friend and leader.  We welcome John as our new director!


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