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About this collection

The Historical Collections Department of SUNY Upstate Medical University's Health Science Library in Syracuse holds a special collection of rare books, journals, documents, photographs, medical instruments and other materials for the study of the history of medicine in Central New York, and the history of SUNY Upstate Medical University and it's predecessor schools. We can be found on the 2nd floor of the Health Science Library in Weiskotten Hall on 766 Irving Avenue. The mission of the Health Sciences Library is to provide health information services and resources to meet the current and emerging needs of the UPSTATE community.


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Syracuse Free Dispensary

Founded in 1888 by Dr. John S Van Duyn (1843-1934), the Syracuse Free Dispensary was a public outpatient facility supported by volunteer contributions and the College of  Medicine. Throughout it's existence the dispensary housed a wide variety of clinics including: general medicine, general surgery, pediatrics, ophthalmology, radiology, otolaryngology, and so on. To meet public demand the dispensary changed locations throughout the years. After it's incorporation at 208 South Warren the dispensary relocated in 1897 to 407 S. Warren where it remained until 1904. The dispensary was then moved to 506 S. Warren from 1904-1914 and to 610 E. Fayette from 1914-1957. It was eventually forced to the State building at 333 E. Washington until 1964 when it was folded into the outpatient clinic at the new University Hospital of SUNY Upstate Medical Center. This collection encompasses the existence of the dispensary from 1888-1964 and contains photographs & negatives of dispensary personnel, interior/exterior shots of dispensary locations, & ceremonies, newspaper clippings, and documents.


SUNY Biomedical Communication Network 

The SUNY Biomedical Communication Network (BCN) was the first online bibliographic network in the world for accessing medical literature. Operating from 1968-1977, the network also experimented with access to the sharedcataloging of monographs as well as serials records. The BCN was hosted in the Health Sciences Library at what was then called Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse. Irwin Pizer (1934-1991), as Director of the Health Sciences Library, was also the Director of the BCN. There were nine original medical libraries in the network. Over the years membership grew to 32 institutions. For a number reasons, the project began to suffer difficulties. In response, some of the leadership staff of BCN founded Bibliographic Retrieval Services, Inc. (BRS), a commercial vendor in Latham, NY. BRS was eventually purchased by OVID Technologies, a Walters-Kluwer Company. The image collection includes photographs of network mainframe computers,terminals, and other equipment. Also included are BCN staff, Upstate faculty and staff, network advisory committees, documents & news clippings, and links to freely accessible articles which describe the SUNY BCN in greater detail.


Geneva Medical College

Geneva Medical College was founded in 1834 by Dr. Edward Cutbush, a Professor of Chemistry at Geneva College, which is now named Hobart College. At Dr. Cutbush’s suggestion, Geneva Medical College became a department of Geneva College. From 1834-1853 the official name of this new medical school was Medical Institution of Geneva College.  Geneva Medical College is the predecessor of the Syracuse University College of Medicine and the current SUNY Upstate Medical University. Thus, the current SUNY Upstate Medical University can trace its lineage to Geneva Medical College. Among the graduates of renown of Geneva Medical College, is Elizabeth Blackwell, MD who was the first woman physician in the world to graduate from an accredited college of medicine.

As population shifted in the middle of the nineteenth century and other medical schools were growing, the faculty of Geneva Medical determined that it was necessary to move their school to a new location. They chose Syracuse University due to a number of factors such as, declining enrollments, the central location of the city of Syracuse, and an invitation from Mother Marianne Cope, Administrator of St. Joseph’s Hospital in Syracuse, to use St. Joseph’s for clinical training of medical students. Geneva Medical College was officially dissolved in 1871 and reopened in their new location and the new name of College of Physicians and Surgeons of the Syracuse University.

This sub collection contains images of the founder of Geneva Medical, buildings and views of the College, renown alumni, and examples of annual announcements of courses and curriculum.


Elizabeth Blackwell

Elizabeth Blackwell, MD was the first woman in the world to graduate from an accredited medical school. After arriving at Geneva Medical College in November of 1847, Blackwell began fifteen months of study to finally earn her medical degree.  Dr. Blackwell graduated from Geneva Medical College on January 23, 1849 and ranked first in her class.
Though successful as a medical student, Blackwell faced criticism and prejudice simply for being a woman who strove to be a physician. She faced similar intense reactions when she tried to practice medicine in Europe and subsequently when she tried to establish a medical practice in New York City.

This subcollection contains various images of of Blackwell, such as an original painting by Joseph Stanley Kozlowski completed in 1963. Other items in this collection include various addresses and publications by Blackwell. Some of the publications and addresses delivered include, “Christian Socialism; thoughts suggested by the Easter season”, “How to Keep a Household in Health”“On the Humane Prevention of Rabies”, “The Influence of Women in the Profession of Medicine” and many others.


The Roosevelts Visit Syracuse

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) and Eleanor Roosevelt visited Syracuse at various times in the 20th century. These images include a campaign visit by FDR in approximately June of 1932 while he was governor, but running for the presidency of the United States.
Another group of photos document the laying of the cornerstone of the Basic Sciences Building for the Syracuse University College of Medicine, now Upstate Medical University. The laying of the cornerstone took place on September 29, 1936. These ceremonial images include FDR posing with trowel in hand, laying the cornerstone, FDR at the podium giving a speech and a picture of the motorcade making its way through Syracuse. Another photo shows Eleanor later that evening and the next day at the state Democratic convention which took place at the Hotel Onondaga.
Finally, there is a group of photographs from 1956 of Eleanor Roosevelt giving speeches, speaking to a WSYR radio audience and attending the graduation of her grandson at Jamesville DeWitt High School. Additional non-photographic items include invitations and text materials from the above historical visits.


Hospital of the Good Shepherd

This Syracuse hospital was known by three different names. When it was founded in 1872 it was known as House of the Good Shepherd. After it's move to the corner of Marshall Street and University Ave in 1875, it was called Hospital of the Good Shepherd and later as University Hospital of the Good Shepherd. After Upstate Medical University opened it's own medical center facility as a University Hospital, the Good Shepherd was closed. The religious metaphor used of "Good Shepherd" reflects the original founding by Bishop Frederic D. Huntington of the Episcopal Diocese of Central New York. The building on the corner of Marshall and University is now called Huntington Hall in his honor. It houses the School of Education of Syracuse University.

This collection contains numerous images of the exterior and interior of the Good Shepherd Hospital. Some interior images include the operating and waiting rooms, as well as other hospital features. The exterior images reflect historical periods of the horse and buggy to vintage cars parked in front from the early 1960's.


McBride Street Campus

When Geneva Medical College moved to Syracuse in 1872, it first classes were held in a building in Clinton Block area near the Erie Canal. Then in 1875 the College of Medicine moved to an old carriage factory building on McBride Street (called Orange Street at the time) and remodeled some of the laboratories and other spaces as students began taking classes. After 20 years the carriage factory building could no longer be used due to its age and deteriorating condition. In response the college raised enough money to construct a new building on 309 South McBride street, a structure which still exists today. The carriage factor building was demolished and students began taking classes in the new building in 1896. This collection contains photographs of the original Clinton Block, the carriage factory building on Orange (later McBride Street) and the 309 South McBride Street campus. The images include the exterior of the buildings, as well as interior pictures of laboratories, library, and lecture halls. Pictures of some of the students and faculty are also included.


Fairfield Medical College

Fairfield Medical College developed out of the Medical School of Fairfield Academy, whose instructors taught several subjects in the areas of medicine, pharmacy, and surgery. However, the Academy itself did not grant medical degrees. To be able to respond to the demand for an actual medical degree, Fairfield Medical College was incorporated by Lyman Spalding, Westel Willoughby, and James Hadley in 1812. A charter was granted under the formal name, The College of Physicians & Surgeons of the Western District of New York, located in Herkimer County.

The medical college closed in 1841, though professors began teaching at Geneva Medical College, the institution which eventually became Upstate Medical University.  Former students of Fairfield Medical College became faculty members of Syracuse University Medical College, demonstrating another connection between the two schools.

This subcollection contains photographs of Fairfield Academy,Seminary, and Medical College. Also included: an address delivered at an 1889 Syracuse University Commencement, an article by Dr. Mather titled “Early Recollections of Fairfield Academy”, and “Circular and catalogue of the faculty and students of Fairfield Medical College” for years spanning 1826-1840.


University Hospital 

University Hospital is the primary facility in which SUNY Upstate students train during their clinical years at. The hospital formally began operations in 1965 as Upstate Medical Center under the leadership of Upstate President Dr. Carlyle Jacobsen. Contents:


Nursing at Upstate

In 1950 SUNY acquired the Public Health Nursing program from Syracuse University in addition to the College of Medicine. By 1959 Upstate had founded an official School of Nursing, awarding A.A.S. degrees over a two year program. The school functioned until 1976 when it was folded into the College of Health Related Professionals only to emerge as the College of Nursing in 1984. This collection currently holds items from the original School of Nursing and it's joint venture with Cazenovia College, including class photographs, documents, and photographs of Director Maja Anderson & other staff.

In the early half of the 20th century a nursing program also existed at the Hospital of the Good Shepherd. Items from that program can be viewed here


Groundbreaking Ceremony of the Health Sciences Library

A groundbreaking ceremony for a new Health Sciences Library at SUNY Upstate Medical University took place on August 14, 1992. During the early 1990’s the official name of the campus was SUNY Health Science Center at Syracuse. The proposed name for the new Library was declared to be the following; Library and Biomedical Information Resource Center. This name can be seen in the scanned documents of the sub-collection such as, in the official program, invitation and speeches. However, a consensus developed in the succeeding years to change the name to simply, Health Sciences Library, and this is the name which continues to this day. The photos from the Groundbreaking Ceremony depict speeches and interviews given by dignitaries and invited guests. Some of these speakers included, Dr. George Lundberg, editor of JAMA, Glyn Evans Assistant Vice Chancellor for Library Services, and State Senator Tarky Lombardi. Others in attendance as seen in these photographs, were many faculty and employees of the Health Science Center, and Library staff. An interesting point mentioned in the program; the Library was originally designed to be over 70,000 square feet, but when it opened the actual space was about 35,000 square feet.


College of Medicine Class Photographs

This sub collection contains photographs which span decades of medical school development. There are pictures representing classes starting in 1885 and ending in 1964. During this period, the institution changed its names many times.

The following names of the College of Medicine represented during the time period of this sub collection were as follows:

• College of Medicine, Syracuse University - 1875-1887

• Syracuse University College of Medicine - 1887-1950

• State University of New York (SUNY) College of Medicine at Syracuse – 1950 - 1953

• SUNY Upstate Medical Center – 1953 – 1986

Though the collection is called “Class Photographs”, additional categories of photos include graduations, with graduates posing in caps and gowns. Another category contains commencement photos. Almost all of the pictures have identifying names for each person. However, the names are not as yet searchable. There are gaps in the collection as a consequence of the country’s and the medical school involvement in both World Wars. For example, there are no class pictures available between 1914-1917 during World War I nor between 1939-1945 during World War II.


52nd General Hospital

Mobile military hospitals were organized by the U.S. Department of War as early as 1940 in anticipation of American involvement in World War II. These mobile hospitals would be used for surgical and medical treatment of casualties suffered in combat. The 52nd General Hospital was one such hospital, which was affiliated with Syracuse University College of Medicine. This collection offers an extensive look at the life of medical personnel who served during training in Camp Livingston, Louisiana and at the actual camp in Kidderminster, England. In addition to photographs, several oral histories from members of the 52nd are available in this collection. For more information about the 52nd General Hospital, read an excellent history found in SUNY Upstate Medical University: A Pictorial History. 


Children’s Miracle Network 

Children's Miracle Network and Special Pediatric Visits
The Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) Telethon has been a mainstay in the Syracuse area for decades. Hundreds of thousands of dollars are raised for what is now Golisano Children’s Hospital. Before the construction of Golisano, there was a pediatric wing at Upstate University Hospital. This sub collection contains photographs of both the Telethon and the visits of local and national celebrities to the pediatric wing.
Most of the telethon pictures are from the late 1980’s , featuring local television news anchors, reporters and weather staff. The pictures show presentations of from various business and voluntary organizations to the CMN Telethon.
Visitors to the former pediatric wing of University Hospital included Syracuse University basketball coach Jim Boeheim, along with members of the S.U. team. Nationally known people included Marie Osmond and Eunice Kennedy Shriver.



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