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Cushing/Whitney Medical Library Collection of Obstetrical Instruments.
The collection of obstetrical and gynecological instruments in the Historical Library, Cushing/Whitney Medical Library numbers 57 instruments. Many were collected by Herbert Thoms, M.D. (1885-1972), longtime professor of obstetrics at Yale and a nota ble historian of obstetrics, who sought out examples of the various types of forceps, perforators, cranioclasts, and other instruments.
Long stored in a sub-basement cage in the Historical Library of the Cushing/Whitney Medical Library, surrounded by stacks of book treasures, is a large collection of antique medical instruments and related objects. These materials were acquired over the years entirely through donation.
Although the collection includes a few Roman, Chinese and seventeenth and eighteenth century objects, most are nineteenth and early twentieth century. Many of the objects were the property of Yale Medical faculty and graduates, a number of whom practiced in Connecticut. An important collection of obstetrical instruments was donated by Yale obstetrician Dr. Herbert Thoms. There are included, also, a number of elegantly made surgical instrument kits. Collections of mortars, pestles, apothecary jars and paper wrapped pharmaceuticals await more exact identification.
The Edward C. Streeter Collection is one of the most comprehensive study collections of weights and measures in the world in terms of time period and geography. The weights and scales form the most valuable part: Babylonian, Assyrian, Egyptian, Islamic, Greek, and Roman; weights issued by different cities, especially those in southern France; gold (money) scales; weights and scales used by apothecaries.
The Medical Historical Library’s collection of commemorative medical medals includes items dating from the eighteenth to twentieth century. A small but diverse collection, it encompasses pieces representative of each genre of medals. Many physicians, including Harvey Cushing, John F. Fulton, Samuel Clark Harvey, and George Milton Smith, contributed to the Historical Library’s collection.
The Division of Historical Scientific Instruments is responsible for some 2,000 instruments drawn from Yale University’s academic departments: primarily physics, but also astronomy, biology, chemistry, engineering, and geology.