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person with their head in their handMindscapes: Stories of Mental Health through Yale Collections

On view in the rotunda from February 19th – August 16th, 2024
Curated by Melissa Grafe, Ph.D. and Laura Phillips, Ph.D.
Mindscapes tells a story about mental health—its visibility, classification, and treatment—through the archival and visual art collections of the Medical Historical Library. Instead of a sweeping grand narrative of medical progress, Mindscapes presents a constellation of short stories that illuminate shifting cultural attitudes and scientific approaches to mental health over time. At stake in these stories are challenging, contested topics around mental health that intersect with Yale School of Medicine’s own histories.

Past Exhibitions

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Yale School of Nursing Centennial (1923 - 2023)

August 18, 2023 - January 14, 2024, Cushing Rotunda

The core mission of Yale School of Nursing (YSN) is “better health for all people.” As we celebrate YSN's 100th anniversary, we take this opportunity to explore and reflect on the school’s first century.

Highlights of this exhibition include the assessment that helped found YSN as a completely new model of nursing education; the immense growth and change across the student population and faculty; the innovative methods of pedagogy and research inside and outside the classroom; a long tradition of community and global service; and a glimpse of the school today.

Curated by Janene Batten, Ed.D., MLS; Courtney Brombosz, MLS; and Melissa Grafe, Ph.D.

Killer or Cure? Poison through the Centuries

March 22 - August 13, 2023, Cushing Rotunda

Plate featuring illustration of foxgloveA touchstone of murder mysteries and historical intrigue, tactical warfare and political coups, poison looms large in our cultural imagination. An invisible agent of death, it might be hiding anywhere, stashed in a secret agent’s suitcase or mixed into a murderous martini.

Less glamorously, but even more palpably, it lurks in our everyday lives as well, creeping in through garden plants and exotic pets, household cleaners and rainwater runoff, medicine cabinets and art supplies. Broadly defined as any substance which can cause serious illness or death if introduced into the body (e.g.: ingested, injected, absorbed) if it’s administered in the right quantity and conditions, a deadly poison can be just about anything.

This exhibit traces major developments in medical, legal, and public knowledge of poisons in America as they have been used for both good and ill. Looking back through the lore of classical antiquity turns up mythical poisons and their antidotes: the paralytic stare of the cockatrice; the salvific unicorn horn. Poison plants and venomous vipers found fame in the ancient world as well (Socrates was supposedly poisoned by hemlock; Cleopatra by an asp)--though illustrated 19th century herbals, early 20th century pharmaceutical guides, and even 21st century textbooks underscore how many of these same toxins can also be used in life-saving medications. Other exhibit highlights include food adulteration and household poisons, developments in forensic toxicology, and even a 19th century New Haven murder trial. From cartoons and campy tunes to labwork and legal testimony, poison is everywhere–come see!

Curated by Sophia Richardson, doctoral candidate in English, Graduate School for Arts and Sciences 2022 curatorial fellow, with the assistance of Dr. Melissa Grafe and the staff at the Yale Medical Historical Library.

The Medical Lens: Highlights from the Stanley B. Burns, MD, Historic Medical Photography Collection

January 27, 2023 - March 10, 2023

Stanley B Burns stands next to a wall of historic medical photography

Over the centuries, illustration became increasingly embedded in the medical field via textbooks, posters, and other visual medium. With the development of photography in the early nineteenth century, medicine acquired a new way of viewing the patient. Besides being integrated in medical education and training, photography became a means of creating professional identity. To the larger world, medical photography helped shape the image of medical care and the profession, promoted technological advancements, sold products, and influenced public policy. The Medical Lens explores the importance of photography in medicine through images selected from the recently acquired Stanley B. Burns, MD, Historic Medical Photography Collection at Yale University. The collection encompasses a wide variety of photographic and print techniques including daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, and tintypes from the earliest years of photography, cartes de visite, cabinet cards, lantern slides, photo albums and collections of prints assembled by medical practitioners, postcards, and publications. 

Stanley B. Burns, MD, FACS, is an ophthalmologist and Research Professor of Medicine and Psychiatry, and Professor of Medical Humanities at New York University: Langone Health. He began collecting historic photography in 1975, and over time amassed over a million images that he curated in multiple books, articles, and exhibitions. Dr. Burns is pictured standing in front of his photo wall containing some of the most iconic images from the Burns Archive, which he established in 1977.

Click to view the object list

Case 1: Introduction

-F. R. Reynolds and classmate before and after receiving their medical degrees at Rush Medical College, tintypes, 1883

-Florence Nightingale photographed by H. Hering, “Photographer to the Queen,” carte de visite, circa 1856-1857

-James Samuel How (Howe), MD, dead from cholera epidemic, St. Louis, Missouri, daguerreotype with obituary notice, 1849

-Ava V. Chadwick-Herns’s Battle Creek Sanitarium pamphlet with added photographs and notations, Battle Creek, Michigan, 1906-1907

-“Synoviales de la main” (dissection of the hand to show synovial system), 1870 and “Pelvi-support contre-extenseur” (counter-tension pelvic support), 1873 from Revue Photographique des hôpitaux de Paris. Gift of Stanley B. Burns, MD, 2020.

Case 2: Medical Identity and the Profession

(1) Meade brothers studying medicine, Victor, New York, tintype, circa 1860-1865

To be replaced mid-February with:

(1) Two medical students studying anatomy with book, bones, and dissected arm, tintype, circa 1860-1865

(2) Dental extraction staged scene, tintype circa 1855-1865

(3) Portrait of Dr. Matthew Gill, “A student of Esculapius,” photographer S. Krausz, Chicago, cabinet card, circa 1891-1892

(4) Portrait of a visiting nurse, photographer John Suchy, Chicago, cabinet card, circa 1898-1900

(5) “Dr. Gridley’s first operation,” amputation surgery staged in a photography studio, photographer W. A. Hopkins & Company, Rapid City, South Dakota, cabinet card, 1891

(6) Elderly pharmacist with bottles of medicines, hand-tinted ambrotype, circa 1860-1866

(7) Physician/pharmacist using microscope, New York, gelatin silver print, circa 1895

(8) Pharmacist and assistant in a pharmacy, gelatin silver print, circa 1900

(9) Portrait of Danish nurse with red cross armband, photographer Mary Steen, Copenhagen, carte de visite, circa 1893

(10) Three nurses on the steps of the Lincoln School for Nurses, Bronx, New York, gelatin silver print, circa 1930

(11) Fordham Hospital medics with horse-drawn ambulance, gelatin silver print, circa 1892-1900

(12) Group photo of women interns at the Children’s Hospital of San Francisco, gelatin silver print, 1925-1926

Case 3: Medical Spaces and their Meanings

(1) Dr. Bernstein, dentist, in his office, gelatin silver print, circa 1945

(2) Surgeon William L. Rodman’s clinic in the operating theater of the Medico Chirurgical Hospital, Philadelphia, photographer C. E. Waterman, gelatin silver print, March 26, 1902

(3) Exterior view of Mount Sinai Hospital from series “Views in New York City and Vicinity,” stereoview card, 1893

(4) Operation taking place in a Bellevue ward circa 1880s-1890s, gelatin silver copy print, 1948

(5) Operation led by female surgeon, gelatin silver print, circa 1905-1920

(6) Receiving wards, from George Pfaler E.M.D.’s Old Blockley Hospital photo album, Philadelphia, gelatin silver print, 1900-1901

(7) Boston City Hospital Ward P, gelatin silver print, Christmas 1912

Case 4: The Boom of Medical Innovation and Technology

(1) Man in bed with leg in an early traction device, tintype in thermoplastic case, circa 1860-1870

(2) “Artificial sunlight for children,” showing a child receiving a “light bath” treatment at New York Nursery and Child’s Hospital, Keystone View Company, Inc., gelatin silver print, circa 1920-1935

(3) “Making ‘movies’ of the heart,” Kymograph machine combining X-ray and moving picture technology built by Dr. Wendell G. Scott and Dr. Sherwood Moore of Washington School of Medicine in St. Louis, International News Photo, gelatin silver print, 1936

(4) “New electron microscope has great range,” Dr. Gordon Scott of Washington University Medical School using an electron microscope, Acme Chicago Bureau, gelatin silver print, 1940

(5) “Machine will act as heart or lung,” created by J. Jongbloed of Holland for use during surgery, shown at conference of surgeons at the Sorbonne, Paris International News Photos, gelatin silver print, 1951

(6) “Skin resistance to sun measured,” Dr. Robert C. Burt of Pasadena, CA demonstrating his device for measuring how long one may be exposed to sunlight without injury, gelatin silver print, circa 1920-1930

(7) “La formule ideale de sang artificiel” (the ideal formula for artificial blood), Dr. Gottendenker of Vienna with his new invention: artificial human blood, Agence Trampus, gelatin silver print, 1937

(8) The “Headshrinker” positron detector invented by James S. Robertson at Brookhaven National Laboratory, a direct forerunner of positron emission tomography scanning, photographer unknown, gelatin silver print, 1961

(9) “Une nouvelle methode de traitement pour le cancere” (a new way to treat cancer), radiation sphere invented by Anton Zeeman and Doctor Erwin Fuhrer for the treatment of cancer, Agence Trampus, gelatin silver print, 1938

Case 5: Diseases, Vaccines, and Treatments

(1) Child with smallpox, New York City, gelatin silver print, 1881

(2) Scenes from pneumonic plague in China, gelatin silver prints, 1911.

Pictured are four doctors with thick face masks standing in front of a train; a doctor being sprayed with disinfectant; a doctor and medical assistants with horse-drawn carts for living and dead plague victims; and a doctor and military personnel standing outside an infected building that’s being burned down to stop the spread of disease.

(3) Hookworm Disease Commission in Jamaica, gelatin silver prints, circa 1918

In these images from a larger album, medical personnel are using microscopes to examine samples and encouraging local people to see the hookworm eggs under the microscope as part of a health demonstration.

(4) Elizabeth Kenny demonstrating physical therapy treatment on a young polio patient for nurses at General Hospital, Minneapolis, gelatin silver print, circa 1940

(5) Female scientists preparing vaccines in the Pasteur Institute toxins and antitoxins department, Photograph Trampus, Paris, gelatin silver print, 1943

(6) Adding formalin to transform toxin into antitoxin at the Pasteur Institute, Photograph Trampus, Paris, gelatin silver print, 1943

(7) U.S. Army Captain Daniel Staples administering typhoid vaccine to a young refugee from a flood area, Forrest City, Arkansas, International Newsreel, gelatin silver print, 1927

(8) Man being vaccinated at Pasteur Institute, photo postcard published by Neurdein et Cie, Paris, 1916

(9) Catholic missionary staff administering vaccines, photo postcard published by La Propagation de la Foi, Paris/Lyon, circa 1920

Case 6: War and Medicine

(1) Civil War contract surgeon in his tent with books, medications, and medical bag, tintype, circa 1862-1865

(2) Surgical scene in front of a tent at Camp Letterman, Gettysburg, partial stereoview card, July 1863. Gift of Stanley B. Burns, MD, 2022

(3) American Women’s Hospital ambulance driver with her vehicle, photographer E. Belval, France, gelatin silver print, circa 1918

(4) World War I military doctor treating soldier with leg wound in multi-patient clinic, gelatin silver print, circa 1914-1918

(5) Back view of World War I soldier with severe chest injury recovering at Walter Reed Hospital, gelatin silver print, circa 1917-1920

(6) Wounded soldiers posing after recovery with wax models of their facial wounds from Kriegszahnklinik der IV. Armee in Lublin, a German army maxillofacial surgery album, 1916

(7) French World War I veteran photographed with his leg prosthesis from Considérations sur la Rééducation Professionelle Dans les Industries du Bâtiment (Considerations on vocational retraining in the construction industries), one of the first state-funded veteran rehabilitation programs, Charles Vallee, MD, France, 1917

(8) World War II medics administering plasma to battle casualty “on the run” to an L-5 plane for evacuation, Mindanao, Philippines, U.S. Army photograph, gelatin silver print, circa 1941-1942

(9) American Army surgeon operating on wounded soldier in underground surgery, Bougainville, Papua New Guinea, U.S. Army photograph, gelatin silver print, 1943

Case 7: Patient Photography and Diagnostics

(1) Civil war veteran receiving morphine injection from a physician, photographer B. Perry, Chamberlain, South Dakota, cabinet card, circa 1865-1866

(2) Nurse taking the pulse of female patient in a wheelchair, photographed by Altman and Edelman, Battle Creek, Michigan, cabinet card, circa 1894-1895

(3) Portrait of an obese man with edema of leg, tintype, circa 1865-1875

(4) Portrait of man with facial and neck tumor, photographer J. G. Ellinwood, Manchester, New Hampshire, carte de visite, circa 1871-1910

(5) Photograph documenting the spinal alignment of a young woman from Berkeley Gymnasium log book on student posture, photographer M. K. Wallin, MD, gelatin silver print, circa 1904-1909

(6) “Tubercular sylphide (on a woman’s back). From the collection of photographs of skin diseases of Dr. George Henry Fox,” page from The Medical Record: Weekly Journal of Medicine and Surgery, December 31, 1887

(7) Man with carcinoma of neck before and after treatment and with his family, Allentown, Pennsylvania, gelatin silver prints attached with surgical tape, circa 1915

(8) Lantern slides of a woman with fractured arm: x-rays and with her arm splinted, circa 1920-1930

(9) “Dr. Bordiu, marquis of Villa Verde, studies X rays during operation performed on Spanish child born with heart ailment,” photographer Jose Maria Lara, Pix Incorporated, New York City, gelatin silver print, circa 1950-1969

(10) Microscopic photography by Carlos Finlay, MD, from his research on yellow fever in Havana, Cuba: “Yellow fever blood, first day, fatal case x1450” and “Yellow fever blood, 5th day, fatal case x1450,” cabinet cards, 1879

Case 8: Teaching Medicine

-Cartes de visite documenting Civil War veterans’ wounds and recovery, compiled by Dr. Reed Bontecou, Surgeon-in-Charge of Harewood U.S. Army General Hospital, Washington DC, circa 1863-1864, and donated to Army Medical Museum. Gift of Stanley B. Burns, MD, 2022.


-Annotated teaching prints of injured Civil War soldiers: James Middleton with gunshot wound through the left shoulder and unidentified soldier with wound on left thigh, Dr. Reed Bontecou, enlargements of albumin prints, circa 1864-1865. Gift of Stanley B. Burns, MD, 2020.

-Stereo prints from Lernt helfen (Learn to help), a 3D first aid guide for lay helpers that was packaged with a small folding stereoscope viewer, Germany, 1952

-Lantern slides created by Dr. Cutler using pre-made mats from William Garrison Reed, Boston, circa 1890

            - On view are slides on “Purpurra haemorrhagica on leg” and “Herpes zoster on eye.”

-To be replaced mid-February with slides on “Purpura rheumatica” and “Tinea Versicolor.”

-“Tying the artery after the anastomosis is made” stereoview photograph from Transfusion of Blood by G. W. Crile, from Howard Kelly’s Stereo-clinic series, 1913


-“Closing the wound. Drainage.” stereoview photograph from Thyroidectomy for Exophthalmic Goiter by A. H. Ferguson, from Howard Kelly’s Stereo-clinic series, 1911. With stereoscope, circa 1890-1915


This exhibition is curated by Katherine Isham, MLIS, and Melissa Grafe, PhD, with the valued expertise of Stanley B. Burns, MD, FACS. The curators thank Christopher Zollo, Kelly Perry, Laura O'Brien-Miller, Dana Haugh, and Melanie Norton for their assistance in bring this exhibition to life.


“Pasteur at 200”

Cushing Rotunda, August 24th, 2022 - January 20th, 2023 

Join us at the Medical Library for our newest Rotunda exhibition! “Pasteur at 200” commemorates the work of French chemist Louis Pasteur, born December 27, 1822, along with his longer scientific legacy, which continues today. If you drink pasteurized milk, or if you take your pet for a rabies shot, Pasteur was the renowned chemist behind these innovations, among many others. Pasteur was celebrated in his lifetime for discoveries that helped propel changes in industry, science, and medicine. With his colleagues, he clarified the role of microbes in fermentation, and developed a process called pasteurization to prolong the shelf life for wines and beers. Pasteur also helped establish the laboratory development of vaccines in animals and humans, expanding on a larger germ theory of disease. By examining aspects of Pasteur’s work, this exhibition highlights how Pasteur remained in the public’s eye for centuries after his death, and how much of his legacy still resonates in our everyday lives.

 This exhibition was curated by Melissa Grafe, Ph.D, Head of the Medical Historical Library with contributions from members of the Medical and Historical Library teams, and the valued expertise of Bert Hansen, professor emeritus of History at Baruch College of CUNY. Many of the items on exhibit are drawn from The Bert Hansen collection of medicine and public health in popular graphic art.

Image: “Hydrophobia” by Théobald Chartran for Vanity Fair, January 8, 1887. This lithograph shows Louis Pasteur holding two white rabbits, in reference to his experiments using rabbits for his rabies vaccine.

100 Years of Pediatrics at Yale

April 30, 2022 - August 22, 2022

The Historical Library, in coordination with the Department of Pediatrics, helped to celebrate 100 years of Pediatrics at Yale through a physical exhibition in the Medical Library’s Rotunda.  Founded in 1921, Yale Pediatrics has always been on the forefront of research and clinical practice. The exhibition features material on some of the department’s initiatives, including:

  • Dr. Ruth Whittemore and the first pediatric rheumatic fever and cardiac clinic in New England in 1947
  • Development of Dr. Edith Jackson’s pioneering Rooming-In Program at Grace New-Haven Hospital from 1946 to 1953
  • Creation of the first Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) by Dr. Louis Gluck in 1960

Today, Pediatrics has thirteen subspeciality sections, with 87 residents, 47 clinical fellows, 207 full-time faculty and 73 clinical faculty from the community. The department’s mission can be distilled into three words: heal, innovate, and collaborate.

This exhibition was organized by Kaiulani Shulman and Jennifer DeSantis, with assistance from Melissa Grafe, Ph.D, Head of the Medical Historical Library, and contributions from various members of the Department of Pediatrics and Medical Library staff (Kelly Perry, Chris Zollo, Melissa Funaro, Dana Haugh, Kaitlin Throgmorton, Melanie Norton, and Terry Dagradi). Some materials displayed are on loan from Manuscripts and Archives, the Medical Historical Library, and Yale New-Haven Hospital archives.  Several labels were adapted from previous exhibitions curated by Toby Appel, Ph.D, and Susan Dee, Archivist, Yale New Haven Hospital. 

Innovation & Evolution in Hip Replacement Surgery: Highlights from the Keggi–Rubin Hip Implant Collection at Yale University 

January 28th - April 29th, 2022

This exhibit explores the evolution of hip replacement surgery through historic implants selected from the new Keggi—Rubin Hip Implant Collection at Yale University. The displayed implants trace the trials, innovations, successes, and failures of hip replacement surgery over time, providing insight into the dynamic world of surgical history. By archiving and studying these implants, one can witness the remarkable changes that have resulted from design, engineering, biomaterials, manufacturing, and technological advances over nearly a century.

The evolution of total hip replacement has been possible thanks to the timeless contributions and collaborations of many dedicated surgeons, researchers, engineers, industry experts, and manufacturers over the past 70 years.

This exhibition was organized by Marguerite “Maggie” Gilmore, College of the Holy Cross; Daniel H. Wiznia, MD, Assistant Professor; Kristaps J. Keggi, MD, Professor Emeritus; and Lee E. Rubin, MD, Associate Professor, with the assistance of Melissa Grafe, Ph.D. 


Disability, Disability Activism, and the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act

ADA celebrates 30 years

On display in the Cushing Rotunda March 5 - August 17, 2020

Thirty years ago, the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) became law, prohibiting discrimination against people with disabilities in all areas of public life, including employment, schools, transportation, and public spaces. 

This exhibition explores disability and disability activism leading up to the passage of the ADA in July 1990.  At a local level, the exhibition discusses disability activism at Yale today, focusing on multiple groups advocating for change across Yale's system.

October 30 2019 - February 24, 2020

  • Plastic Surgery at Yale: Surgical Expertise, Innovation, and History, Cushing Rotunda
    In this exhibition, evolving techniques and procedures dating from ancient times through the present day are on display through a sampling of major historical plastic surgery texts from the Medical Historical Library. Discover technologies used in reconstructive and cosmetic surgery today through the models and tools on loan from Yale Plastic Surgery. Learn about innovations from Yale's own plastic surgery faculty through various publications, instruments, and the international non-profit work performed around the globe.
    The exhibition, in partnership with Yale Plastic Surgery, was curated by Marc E. Walker, MD, MBA, with assistance from Melissa Grafe, Ph.D, Head of the Medical Historical Library.

February 1 2019 – May 1, 2020

  • The Enduring Appeal of “The Doctor”, Historical Library
    “The Doctor,” painted by Sir Luke Fildes in 1891, has been an influential image in the history of medicine for more than a century. The painting of a Victorian doctor attending a sick child in a poor workman’s cottage held great appeal for the general public, who responded to the sympathetic portrayal. Members of the medical profession embraced the painting as a depiction of the ideal physician firmly rooted in the humanitarian traditions of medicine and not defined by the pristine clinical coldness of laboratory science which was redefining modern medicine at the end of the 19th century. By 1900, over one million prints of “The Doctor” were sold in the United States alone. This exhibition, featuring recent gifts from medical historian Bert Hansen, Ph.D., explores the history of “The Doctor” using a variety of prints and objects dating from 1907 to 2009.


August 30 - November 2019

  • The Hall-Benedict Drug Company Logbooks and Ledgers, Historical Library
    The Medical Historical Library is pleased to announce the addition of a new collection to our archives: The Hall-Benedict Drug Company Logbooks and Ledgers (Ms Coll 66), a collection of seventy-five volumes and six boxes, that documents the history of one of the oldest independent drug stores in Connecticut. The collection includes bound prescription logbooks and bound and loose financial ledgers from the Hall-Benedict Drug Company, which was in operation from 1909 to 1998 in the East Rock neighborhood of New Haven, Connecticut. The collection contains an almost continuous record of the pharmacy’s operations from 1909 to 1970 and is a wonderful resource for researchers interested in the history of pharmaceuticals, pharmacies in the twentieth century, and business in New Haven. The collection was a gift from Thomas F. and Helen Formichella.

August 19 - January 2020

  • Grant Wood’s American Gothic Repurposed and Several Anti-Smoking Acquisitions, Hallway
    “American Gothic” is one of the best known works by an American artist. Iowa native Grant Wood was inspired by the small town Iowan home in Gothic Revival style and asked his sister and his dentist to pose for the painting as father and daughter residents of the well kept property.
    To many viewers of “American Gothic” the scene was, and is, interpreted as a satire on rural life, but Wood avowed that the painting portrayed traditional American values, pointing out the residents’ resilience, fortitude and pride. The painting was first exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1930 where it won a prize of $300. It remains on view at the Art Institute.

May 30 - September 30, 2019

  • The Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine exhibition, Cushing Rotunda
    Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine (YJBM) is celebrating 90 years of continuous publication. Founded in 1928 by Milton C. Winternitz, YJBM is the oldest medical student-run publication still in production and has grown to be a peer-reviewed, internationally ranked journal aimed at featuring outstanding research in all areas of biology and medicine.

April 2 - July 5, 2018

  • The Early Modern Pharmacy: Drugs, Recipes, and Apothecaries, 1500-1800
    What did a pharmacy look like in Europe, between 1500 and 1800? What kind of activities took place within its walls? Who were the pharmacists? What kind of drugs did they make, and where did the ingredients come from? This exhibit, organized by the students in Professor Paola Bertucci's undergraduate seminar Collecting Nature and Art with the collaboration of Sarah Pickman, engages with these questions. It shows that, in the early modern period, collecting recipes and making medicines were common household activities carried out by women, while apothecaries often became targets of satire.

    The exhibit focuses also on a number of American ingredients, like coffee, cocoa, tobacco and chocolate, initially regarded as potential cure-alls, and on the mythical mandrake.

February 8 -

  • "A Man of Commanding Presence": Dr. James Henry Etheridge Papers and Exhibition, Historical Library
    Dr. Etheridge (1844-1899) was a distinguished Chicago physician in the late 19th-century. He graduated from Rush Medical College in 1869 and, after a brief sojourn in Europe, taught there for the rest of his life. As a professor of Materia Medica, Medical Jurisprudence, and Gynecology, Dr. Etheridge was passionate about medical education and highly regarded by his peers and students. Reflecting his dedication as an alumnus, his papers feature commencement programs, newsletters, and newspaper clippings related to Rush Medical College.

January 29 - March 28, 2018

  • Highlighting New Acquisitions in the Medical Historical Library
    The Medical Historical Library expands its collections through the careful acquisition of new books, prints, posters, ephemera and other objects.  Spanning assorted topics, including anatomy, herbs and plants, plague and other diseases, protest against medicine and social justice, HIV/AIDS patients, Planned Parenthood, and more, this exhibition highlights just a few of the new pieces recently added to the Library.

October - December 20, 2017

  • "War is not healthy for children..." and Other Recent Acquisitions
    This small exhibit curated by Susan Wheeler highlights protest posters from the 1980s and 1990s, including those of the organization Physicians for Social Responsibility opposing the neutron bomb.

    On view, also, are Keith Haring's "No Nukes" and multiple images of the "mushroom cloud" in calls for action.  A popular novelty poster advises-- "When the bomb goes off, make sure you are higher than the bomb."

    New York City's Statue of Liberty appears in three posters in which she warns of pollution and climate change.

May 25 - November 3, 2017

  • New Lives for Old Specimens
    Is there any use for old anatomy and pathology specimens, usually consigned to dusty basements for storage or destroyed after a number of years?  In our new exhibition “New Lives for Old Specimens,” the Cushing/Whitney Medical Library features current medical research using historical specimens from Yale’s collections.  Multiple curators drawn from inside and outside the School of Medicine, including a Yale medical student, Yale faculty, and Connecticut and international research teams, describe projects involving historical specimens.  From tumors in the Cushing brain tumor registry and fetal skulls within the Kier/Conlogue collection to 1970s dissection videos featuring the late Yale Professor of Anatomy Edmund Crelin Jr., old specimens are finding new ways into current research and medical education.


Charles Cecil Duncan, MD, Professor of Neurosurgery and of Pediatrics

Shanta Elizabeth Kapadia, MBBS, Lecturer in Surgery (Gross Anatomy)

William B Stewart, PhD, Associate Professor of Surgery (Gross Anatomy); Section Chief

Cynthia Tsay, Yale School of Medicine student, Class of 2018

Gerald Joseph Conlogue,  MHS, RT(R)(CT)(MR), Professor Emeritus, Diagnostic Imaging Department

Co-Director, Bioanthropology Research Institute at Quinnipiac University, Curator, Kier/Conlogue Anatomic Collection

April 28 - October 6, 2017

  • "Moral Judgment in Evaluating Disease: Some Pictures for Discussion"
    Curated by David K. Dupee and Melinda Wang, M.D. Candidates, Class of 2020, Yale School of Medicine, this new exhibit in the hallway, is a collaboration of the Program for Humanities in Medicine and the Cushing/Whitney Medical Library.

    By virtue of its ubiquity, we all practice moral judgment at some degree long before developing an aptitude for clinical evaluation. Ideas of how a "good" person should look and act, reside within us and subtly impact the way that we perceive those around us. This practice is so deeply ingrained that it can carry over into the clinic, leading well-meaning practitioners to perceive patients both clinically and morally. 

    We have organized a collection of prints that encourage the viewer to confront the cultural constructs that underlie moral evaluation. In presenting prints from the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries, we aim to impress upon viewers that the association between health and morality is deeply ingrained within the very fabric of society, and indeed, stretches far beyond the period that our exhibit encompasses. We have prepared a hypothetical patient vignette for each print to further conversation about morality and the practice of clinical medicine. It is our hope that viewers will see the chosen depictions of mental health, illness, and body image not as distant echoes of the past, but rather as preludes to forces that remain substantial in the modern era.

January 25 - May 12, 2017

  • "Yale Medicine Goes to War, 1917"
    When America entered the First World War in April 1917, Yale University, including the Medical School, leapt into action.  From mobilizing a "first of its kind" Mobile Hospital Unit, No. 39, to research on the effects of chemical warfare, this exhibition explores the many ways that Yale Medical School faculty, researchers, and students contributed to the war effort at home and abroad.  The war diaries of Harvey Cushing, a pioneering neurosurgeon and Sterling Professor of Neurology at the Yale School of Medicine (1932–1939), will also be on view, documenting the trials and trauma of war, particularly brain damage arising from shell fragments, shrapnel, and gunshot wounds.

    Curated by Yale doctoral student Maria Rios.

January 25 - April 25, 2017

  • "Refugees, Immigrants, and Library Books for Soldiers:  A Selection of World War l Posters from the Collections"
    Curated by Susan Wheeler, this small exhibit reminds us of the impact of the war on non-combatants and the importance of attending to the emotional needs of soldiers. The selections advertise relief organizations and services soliciting funds and materials. World War l posters are well known for their beauty and effectiveness. These posters helped to raise over a hundred million dollars in relief funds and ten million library books.

September 15, 2016 - January 10, 2017

  • "The AIDS Suite,” HIV-Positive Women in Prison and other works by artist/activist Sue Coe
    This exhibit introduced seven large drawings by Sue Coe based upon the patients and medical practice of pioneering art activist Dr. Eric Avery at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston.  Acquired in 2015, the new drawings were exhibited with works from this and other series by Coe acquired over the past decade by the Cushing/Whitney Medical Library's Collection of Prints and Drawings.

    Sue Coe is considered one of the foremost political artists working today.  A firm believer in the power of media to affect change, she has seen her graphic work published in The New York Times, The New Yorker, Rolling Stone and in the permanent collections of major museums such as Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art, and Whitney Museum of American Art.

April 6 - August 29, 2016
  • The Medical Library at 75
    Celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Harvey Cushing/ John Hay Whitney Medical Library, this exhibit explores the history of the creation and development of the library. The exhibit includes how founders Drs. Harvey Cushing,John Fulton, and Arnold Klebs envisioned a medical school library, and documents the changing nature of collections,services, researchers, and staff.
  • The Life of the Medical Library
    As part of the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Harvey Cushing/ John Hay Whitney Medical Library, this photographic exhibit documents the life of the library today. Librarians working within hospital units, researchers delving into collections online and in the library, classes using Historical Library collections, and tours of the Cushing Center are part of the larger world of the Medical Library.
  • The Founding Collection of Prints and Drawings: Bequest of Clements C. Fry
    Seventy-five prints from Fry’s collection hung in the long entrance corridors of the Medical Library when it opened in 1941. The tradition continues today in this small exhibit which includes selections from Fry’s collection exhibited at the National Gallery of Art, 1946, and recent acquisitions which complement the original collection.

January 21 - April 1, 2016 

  • Contra Cocaine and Other Works by Robbie Conal, Guerrilla Artist
    The powerful, gritty political posters of Robbie Conal are seen on city streets and the walls of major museums. This selection includes "Contra Cocaine," 1988, which addresses the introduction of crack cocaine into the U.S. via Los Angeles in the 1980s and "Freedom From Choice," 1992, on a woman's right to abortion information in publicly funded clinics. From Conal's series of political portraits, former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives John Boehner appears in "Wealth Care," 2011.
  • Deaf: Cultures and Communication, 1600 to the Present
    What is deafness? From a medical perspective, deafness is an audiological condition that might be resolved through hearing aids or cochlear implants. But from another perspective, to be Deaf (often spelled with a capital “D”) is to belong to a culture, with a shared language and identity. This exhibit explores how people have understood deaf communication and deaf culture since the seventeenth century, with displays on the history of education, medical interventions, sign languages, and popular culture.

    This exhibit is curated by Katherrine Healey and Caroline Lieffers, Doctoral Students, History of Science and Medicine, Yale University.
  • Selections from the Medical Instruments Collection
    Highlighting recent gifts and other objects from the Medical Historical Library’s instruments and artifacts collection, this exhibit includes a variety of obstetrical forceps, 17th century mortars and pestles, 19th century surgical kits, an early blood transfusion machine, eye charts and other ophthalmology instruments, and pharmaceutical drug bottles and marketing.

September 17, 2015 - January 15, 2016

  • "Historical Illustrations of Skin Disease: Selections from the New Sydenham Society Atlas 1860-1884"
    Curated by Drs. Jean Bolognia and Irwin Braverman, Professors of Dermatology at the School of Medicine, and Susan Wheeler, Curator of Prints and Drawings at the Library.

    The Atlas of Skin Diseases was among the first publications undertaken, in 1859, by the New Sydenham Society. Time-consuming and costly to produce, it was issued in seventeen parts over a period of twenty-four years.

    In this exhibit, Yale dermatologists Jean Bolognia and Irwin Braverman present the celebrated nineteenth century illustrations to a current clinical audience, making a relevant teaching point with each plate. Twenty-five of the Atlas’ forty-nine plates are selected for display. They depict cutaneous diseases ranging from the common, e.g. psoriasis and eczema, to the rare, e.g. iododerma and systematized epidermal nevi. Examples of skin signs of systemic disease, including Addison’s disease, neurofibromatosis, and lupus erythematosus, are also shown. The emotional toll which these chronic diseases inflicted upon patients is a striking feature of the many portraits on view. On view in the Cushing Rotunda and Medical Library Hallway.

October 17, 2015 - January 15, 2016

  • "Discover the Beauty of Science"
    Scientists may not consider themselves artists; however, there are times when science and research experiments lead to incredibly beautiful visual results. This exhibit showcases images captured by Yale biomedical researchers (undergrads, graduate students, postdocs, faculty, associate researchers, etc.). Enjoy the poster-size prints of the visual results of Yale research, where science crosses over to art. See all the submissions for this exhibit on Facebook! On view in the Foyer outside of the Medical Library entrance, Sterling Hall of Medicine

May 15 - September 9, 2015

  • Preserving Form, Preserving Content: Caring for Collections at the Medical Library
    This exhibit explores preservation efforts in the Medical Library to care for its important and varied collections. The Library holds a rich variety of materials in many forms. On top of these traditional formats, the Library has expanded to include digital collections and archives from Yale Medical faculty and researchers. This exhibit explores how the Library works to preserve the collection, keeping it accessible for future generations of researchers. In the Cushing Rotunda.
  • Baldwin’s Patent Medicines
    Baldwin’s Patent Medicines, the exhibit on view in the hallway, is a series of nine letterpress posters from the late 19th century advertising the Baldwin Patent Medicine Company’s specific tonics and pills for an astonishing range of complaints. This was a gift of William H. Helfand in 2012.  In the Hallway, Medical Library.

  • 100 Years of Public Health at Yale
    The Yale School of Public Health celebrates its centennial throughout 2015. One of the oldest accredited schools of public health in this country, it today advances public health through research, education and practice in its home city of New Haven, across the United States and throughout the world. This exhibit examines the rise of public health at Yale beginning with the appointment of C.E.A. Winslow in 1915 through the work of the School in the present day. This exhibit was curated by Toby Appel, Ph.D., and Melissa Grafe, Ph.D., John R. Bumstead Librarian for Medical History.

January 22 - May 15, 2015

  • Teratology: The Science and History of Human Monstrosity
    From early modern marvels to sideshow performers, the abnormal body has provoked wonder and fascination, even as it has inspired the scientific study of monsters. This exhibit explores the history of the science of human monstrosity, from early modern accounts of human-animal hybrids and prodigies through to present-day explorations of birth defects. The exhibit traces the different approaches to human abnormalities/monstrosity since the fifteenth century, demonstrating the various ways in which monsters have been described, explained, classified, and displayed to an interested public. This exhibit was curated by Courtney Thompson, doctoral candidate in the History of Science and Medicine, and Melissa Grafe, Ph.D, John R. Bumstead Librarian for Medical History. In the Cushing Rotunda.
  • Prodigies and Marvels
    Many of the individuals who evoked wonder were well known to contemporary audiences through the dissemination of inexpensive broadsides and prints. A selection from the library’s extensive, and seldom seen, collection on this subject introduces a few of these individuals from the 16th through the early 19th centuries. The exhibit was prepared by Medical Library curator Susan Wheeler. In the Hallway, Medical Library.

September 22nd, 2014 - January 16th, 2015

  • Vesalius at 500
    The library celebrates the important collection of Vesaliana bequeathed by its founder Harvey Cushing. Highlighting seldom seen works by Andreas Vesalius (1514-1564), considered the founder of modern anatomy, the exhibit includes Vesalius' first published anatomical illustrations – the Tabulae Anatomicae Sex (Six charts of the human body) and the Epitome, the beautiful digest of De Fabrica... , Vesalius’s great text. Three copies of De Humani Corporis Fabrica (The fabric of the human body) one of the great books of the renaissance renowned for its content, form, design, and illustration, will also be on view together with Cushing’s letters and notes pertaining to his collection. In the Cushing Rotunda.
  • The Body as a Machine
    Fritz Kahn, physician and popular writer, applied visual metaphor to make the structure and function of the human body understandable to the general public. The posters which accompanied his three volume Das Leben Des Menschen (1922-1926) are displayed with other works which illustrate and complement the metaphor.  In the Hallway, Medical Library.
  • The Dangers of Underage Drinking and Other Historical Posters
    A 1971 series of brightly colored anti-alcohol posters aimed at teenagers, a selection of STD warnings in the form of comic strips, and a 1956 movie poster "I've Lived Before" which recalls the popular theme of reincarnation derived from hypnosis, are among the materials on view in this exhibit. In Library Foyer, Sterling Hall

May 15 - September 12, 2014

  • Selling Smoke: Tobacco Advertising and Anti-smoking Campaigns
    The tobacco industry has been selling smoke in America and other countries for well over a century. From sultry ladies to Santa, tobacco advertisers slickly packaged smoking in a variety of ways to lure consumers to different brands. Using celebrity spokespeople, touting health benefits, sponsoring racing and other sports, employing product placement, and creating games with prizes are just a small sampling of the ways smoking was sold. "Selling Smoke" exhibits a wide array of tobacco advertising from the William Van Duyn collection of magazine advertisements, ephemera, articles, and photographs. Anti-smoking campaign materials from a variety of public health organizations, multiple U.S. Surgeons General, and others are also be on display, tracing worldwide efforts to stamp out smoking. Discover the entire collection through the finding aid.

January 23 - May 2, 2014

  • "The Perfect Man" and other acquisitions
    In 1895, the original bodybuilder Eugen Sandow was proclaimed “the perfect man” by Dudley Sargent (YMS 1878).  In 1827, former slave Belfast Burton was paid tribute by his patients and mentor in a rare broadside testimonial circulated in Philadelphia.  In 1871, J.J. Woodward shared the first micrographs taken in sunlight with the Surgeon General.  In 1891, Victor Emile Prouvé employed the most delicate coloring to render opium’s intoxicating sleep state in an art print distributed through subscription portfolio.

    In 1902, James Haran, British medical officer in newly founded Nairobi, attended all the victims of plague (the first of many outbreaks) leaving complete case records.   In 1922, artist Käthe Kollwitz created pro bono a poster announcing public events during Anti-Alcohol Week in Schöneberg, a locality of Berlin. In 1978, Rachel Romero and the San Francisco Poster Brigade plastered the city with activist art “To Hell with their Profits:  Stop Forced Drugging of Psychiatric Inmates” produced for the Mental Patients Liberation Movement. They are a small sampling of the substantial number of acquisitions through endowment made by the Historical Library, Cushing\Whitney Medical Library.


  • "The Morphine Addict by Eugene Grasset" and other select acquisitions
    In the Hallway, Medical Library


  • A Cure for What Ails You: Songs from the Library's Sheet Music Collection
    This exhibit celebrates a new collection of medically themed sheet music recently donated to the Medical Historical Library by William Helfand, retired pharmaceutical company executive, historian of medicine, and collector. There are over a thousand items in the collection on medical providers, purveyors of remedies, ailments both real and imagined, cures for all purposes (especially for lovesickness), health songs for children, and music advertising patent medicines.

    Most of the music was written for public entertainment, whether in London music halls, Parisian theaters, or American vaudeville and early musicals. Later songs in the collection were aired on the radio, featured in movies, recorded on record labels, or served as themes for TV shows on doctors and hospitals. Songs range from “The Cork Leg,” a traditional Irish song about a self-propelling prosthetic cork leg, to Loretta Lynn singing about the advantages of “The Pill.” The engraved and lithographed covers of the music provide striking images of medicine and popular culture. Discover the entire collection through the finding aid.  In Library Foyer, Sterling Hall

November 18, 2013 - January 17, 2014

  • Books of Secrets: Alchemy, Medicine, and Magic
    The exhibit was the midterm assignment of Prof. Paola Bertucci’s undergraduate seminar: Spies, Secrets, and Science (HSHM 459a/HIST 159Ja/HUMS 317a). Books of secrets were cheap publications that divulged medicinal, alchemical, artisanal, and other kinds of “secrets” of nature and the arts. Mostly compilations of recipes or how-to manuals, they met with extraordinary success beginning in the sixteenth century, being translated into several languages and reprinted in various editions up until the nineteenth century.

September 16 - November 15, 2013

  • Iconographie photographique de la Salpêtrière: The Physician and the Hysterical Women
    The Iconographie photographique de la Salpêtrière (1876-80), a landmark publication in medical photography, is on view in the Rotunda of the Cushing/Whitney Medical Library.  This collection of texts and photographs represents the female patients of Dr. Jean-Martin Charcot at the Salpêtrière hospital and asylum during the years of his tenure as director. The patients, diagnosed primarily with hysteria or epilepsy, were treated at the asylum even as they acted as experimental subjects for Charcot’s development of the hysteria diagnosis. This collection represents a transformative moment in the history of the diagnosis, treatment, and representation of mental illness. The exhibit was organized by Courtney Thompson, doctoral student in the Program in the History of Medicine, and Susan Wheeler, Curator for Prints and Drawings at the Medical Library.


  • “La Femme” (1886) by French artist Paul-Albert Besnard. 
    Besnard created a series of prints on the possible life events of women in the late 19th century.  In the Hallway, Medical Library.


  • Nursing at 90: A celebration of the Yale School of Nursing Alumni
    The exhibit highlights the contributions of the Nursing program and its graduates to Yale, the profession, and the world. Curated by Janene Batten with the help of Melissa Grafe.  On view in the Medical Library foyer until January 10, 2014.  In addition, as part of the 90th Anniversary of the Yale School of Nursing the Cushing/Whitney Medical Library has digitized the large collection of historical YSN alumni newsletters, memorabilia, and class photos dating from 1926.

July 22 - September 12, 2013

  • "Eight Interesting Objects"
    Recent acquisitions in the Cushing Rotunda
  • Selections from the New Global Health Collection
    The Medical Historical Library recently acquired over 2600 global public health and safety posters, representing 56 countries and multiple languages. On display are selections from this collection, promoting a variety of public health messages, including anti-drug and anti-smoking campaigns, maternal and child health, population control, clean water, and prevention of diseases such as malaria and cholera. In Library Foyer, Sterling Hall.

April - July 2013

  • Unveiling Medicine's Past:  Medical Historical Collections Online
    The Medical Historical Library’s digital collection includes Yale School of Medicine photographs, portraits of 16th Century anatomist Andreas Vesalius, Harvey Cushing and others, as well as rare books, medical and surgical instruments, prints, posters, and drawings, and much more! This exhibit demystifies the process of digitization and showcases Yale’s rich medical historical collections.

January 16 - April 1, 2013

  • Portraits of Wounded Bodies:  Photographs of Civil War Soldiers from Harewood Hospital, Washington, D.C., 1863-1866
    The Medical Historical Library explores Civil War medicine through the haunting photographs of wounded soldiers. In the foyer of Sterling Hall, the exhibit expands to include a larger discussion of Civil War medicine and surgery, including hospitals and nurses, using images and materials from the Medical Historical Library. An online version of the Harewood Hospital photographs is available in the Digital Library.  In Cushing Rotunda, Medical Library and Foyer, Sterling Hall


  • War: Selections from the Collection of Prints and Drawings and the Historical Medical Poster Collection
    Eyewitness renderings of medicine in the field during World War I and World War II, together with posters from various wartime agencies, show part of the war experience and its effect on individuals. In the Hallway, Medical Library

September 22, 2012 - January 13, 2013

  • Medicine at Work: A Selection of Instruments and Materials from the Medical Historical Library
    An online version of our collection of Medical Instruments and Artifacts is available in the Digital Library.
  • Nurses
    Selected from the Historical Medical Poster Collection and the Collection of Prints and Drawings

June 22 - September 17, 2012

  • "Family Doctor" by Grant Wood and Works by Other Mid 20th Century American Artists in Hallway
  • Food and Nutrition posters in Foyer
  • Maternity Care in Pictures: A Portfolio of 31 Teaching Charts Showing Safe Maternity Care, 1939 in Rotunda
    Published by the Maternity Center Association

    This set of small posters, shown in its entirety, was designed for parenting classes, waiting rooms, and formal exhibits.  Many of the posters employed “photomontage” which combined a photographic image with a drawn background—a “modern” graphic technique which served to reinforce the “modern” message. 

    The Maternity Center Association in New York developed the first classes for expectant parents as part of comprehensive maternity services.   In 1938, it offered the first classes for fathers. This set has been digitized and is online in the Historical Poster Collection

March 5 - June 18, 2012

  • Medicine in Shakespeare’s London
    This exhibit was part of the campus-wide celebration of Shakespeare. Shakespeare included many medical references in his plays, such as the plague, midwifery, herbals, astrological medicine, and surgery. This exhibit explores these themes and features works in early anatomy, surgery, and botanicals from the Medical Historical Collection. Parts of this exhibit are available online.

Online Exhibitions