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New Collection: Yale Child Study Center Reference Collection

January 6, 2022 - 11:37am by Melissa Grafe

page spread from a children's book about how flies are born and spread  image of a book page titled how to hold a baby health conference with a black and white picture of a white baby in a high chair colorful watercolor painting of white children playing outside with a kickball and hoop and stick black and white scan of a page showing white children learning how to use a typewriter in a first grade classroom


The Medical Historical Library is the new home for a large collection of approximately 3,800 short published works on topics related to child welfare used by Arnold Gesell and the staff of the Yale Child Study Center as a reference collection. Topics include children and the war; day care centers; education; infant mortality; juvenile delinquency; intellectual disability and the eugenics movement; mental health; mental illness; nurseries; and nutrition. A portion of collection materials documents organizations and conditions relevant to child welfare in New Haven and Connecticut.

Materials in the collection include pamphlets, reprints, newsletters, newspaper clippings, and reports published between 1886 and 1958, with the bulk of materials published between 1910 and 1950. Multiple publications in the collection were authored by Arnold Gesell and Yale School of Medicine faculty and staff.  The collection, the Yale Child Study Center reference collection (Pam Coll 11), is open for research in the Medical Historical Library, and searchable in the online finding aid, down to the title of each published work.

The Yale Child Study Center was founded in 1911 by Arnold Gesell. At that time Gesell had completed a PhD in psychology and was working towards an MD at the Yale School of Medicine, which he completed in 1915. Gesell obtained the use of a room in the New Haven Dispensary to continue his previous work with children with disabilities and created the Yale Clinic of Child Development. Gesell became known for his studies of child development at the clinic. Using one-way mirrors to photograph and film researchers interacting with children, he documented developmental milestones for children from infancy through adolescence.

Gesell was a prodigious writer, publishing numerous articles and more than a dozen books about his findings for the scientific community and the general public. His most famous work, An Atlas of Infant Behavior, contains 3,200 photographs captured from sessions at the clinic. Dr. Gesell was the director of the clinic until his retirement in 1948.

Today, the Yale Child Study Center is a department of the Yale School of Medicine dedicated to improving the mental health of children and families, advancing understanding of their psychological and developmental needs, and treating and preventing childhood mental illness through the integration of research, clinical practice, and professional training. The center serves as the Department of Child Psychiatry for the Yale School of Medicine and Yale New Haven Hospital; is a center for basic neurodevelopment research on the earliest neurodevelopment and behavioral problems troubling children; and provides services in clinics, community settings, homes, and pediatric practices.

The center’s faculty are engaged in domestic and international policy making; provide trainings in child psychiatry, social work, child psychology, research, specific intervention and prevention approaches, and in special areas of children’s mental health; and are engaged in research on the genetic and neurobiological basis of childhood psychiatric disorders.