History of Neurosurgery
Origins of Neurosurgery at Yale
The initiation of an academic program in neurological surgery at Yale University School of Medicine and New Haven Hospital occurred in 1918 when Joseph Flint, M.D., Professor, Chairman and Chief of Surgery, recruited Samuel Harvey, M.D., as Chief Resident and Instructor in Surgery. Harvey received his degree from Yale College in 1907 and his M.D. from Yale Medical School in 1911. After an internship in Pathology at Columbia, a year in Loomis Sanitarium to control pulmonary tuberculosis, and a medical residency at Columbia, Harvey went to the Peter Brent Brigham Hospital in Boston for surgical training. There, from 1913 to 1917, he was a research fellow and a surgical resident under the direction of Harvey Cushing. In 1917, he joined the army and was assigned to the Base Hospital 5 Medical Staff that Cushing made famous with the treatment of nervous system wounds. On discharge from the army, Harvey accepted the Chief Residency in Surgery at New Haven Hospital and the appointment as Instructor in Surgery at Yale University School of Medicine. As in most hospitals in the United States at the time, neurosurgery was performed by general surgeons and New Haven Hospital was not an exception. Harvey, because of his experience with Cushing, had considerably more experience and knowledge concerning neurosurgical problems than did most general surgeons. As Chief Resident, he introduced neurosurgery as part of the General Surgery program and over the next few years developed a relatively active practice in surgery of the nervous system along with his general surgery practice. Cushing's recognition of Harvey's expertise in neurosurgery is demonstrated by his invitation to Harvey in 1922 to become a member of the first neurosurgical society in the world, the Society of Neurological Surgeons. Harvey became the Professor and Chairman of Surgery at Yale in 1924 and established a combined surgical-neurosurgical training program.
Cushing had initiated discussions with Dr. Percival Bailey to continue this work after Cushing's death and to transfer the tumor collection to Chicago. Fortunately for Yale, these arrangements were never formalized and after Cushing's death in 1939, his extensive collection of books, together with the collections of Arnold Klebs and John Fulton, were housed in the Yale Historical Library. This invaluable collection, as well as a recreation of Cushing's office, remain today in the Historical Library.