“The Health of Humanity”: 125 Years of the Columbia University School of Nursing

“The Health of Humanity”: 125 Years of the Columbia University School of Nursing, 1892-2017 

An Exhibit, February 24 – May 19, 2017

Hammer Health Sciences Center, Lower Level 2

The Columbia University School of Nursing opened 125 years ago this May with 16 students housed in an unused hospital ward. Then called the Presbyterian Hospital Training School for Nurses, it soon became known as one of the best in the country. Its first dean, Anna C. Maxwell, insisted her students receive a strong scientific education along with varied clinical experiences.  Her belief in nursing’s vital role in all aspects of health care is embodied in the Latin motto engraved on the school pin students received upon their graduation: ““Salus Generis Humani,” or “The Health of Humanity.”

Archives & Special Collections of the Augustus C. Long Health Sciences Library is pleased to announce the opening of a new exhibit on the history of the Columbia University School of Nursing told through original documents, photographs, and artifacts.

Included are the brochure published by the Presbyterian Hospital announcing the opening of the School; the admissions application of one of the original students; the dress uniform cap of a graduate who served with the Presbyterian Hospital unit in France during World War I; photographs of Maxwell Hall, the School of Nursing’s original home on the Columbia University Medical Center campus; and the School’s first yearbook, Stripes, issued by the Class of 1936. 

The exhibit runs from February 24 to May 19, 2017 and is located on Lower Level 2 of the Hammer Health Sciences Center.  As part of the Teaching and Learning Center, the exhibit area is open 24/7.  A valid Columbia University or New York-Presbyterian Hospital ID is needed to access Hammer, but arrangements can be made for viewing the exhibit by those unaffiliated with the Medical Center.

The exhibit was curated by Stephen Novak, Head, Archives & Special Collections. For more information contact hslarchives@columbia.edu

Evidence-based Guidelines Affecting Policy, Practice and Stakeholders III Conference

The E-GAPPS III conference, sponsored by Guidelines International Network North America (GIN/NA) and the Section on Evidence Based Health Care of the New York Academy of Medicine (NYAM), is being held March 20-21 at the New York Academy of Medicine in NY City.   Attendees will experience a unique opportunity  to interact with the perspectives of guideline developers, patient and consumer advocates, clinicians, and leaders of healthcare organizations. The conference will seek to foster new relationships of collaboration and engagement across the diverse constituencies attending it.  

History of the Health Sciences Lecture Series

Dr. Dana Atchley interviewing a patient, 1958.  Photo by Elizabeth Wilcox

Dr. Dana Atchley interviewing a patient, 1958.  Photo by Elizabeth Wilcox


Nuisance or Necessity? Historical Perspectives on the ‘Informed’ Patient

Nancy Tomes, PhD, SUNY Distinguished Professor of History, Stony Brook University, New York

Thursday, March 9

Refreshments, 5:30, Lecture, 6pm

Conference Room 103-A, Augustus C. Long Health Sciences Library, Hammer Building

701 West 168th St. at Fort Washington Ave.

Sponsored by the Columbia University Augustus C. Long Health Sciences Library


Today it is an article of faith in American health care that patients need to be more actively engaged in their own treatment.   That engagement begins with information: as a nation, we place great emphasis on people’s responsibility to find and act on the best available data about many complex issues, from the choice of insurance plans to the selection of doctors, hospitals, and treatments.  Yet beneath the surface, there remains considerable tension over the role that “informed” patients should and do play in medical decision making.   That tension is often associated with the arrival of the Internet, which has made it far easier for patients to get information about health care options. 

But as this talk by historian Nancy Tomes will show, the fundamental issues involved in today’s debates over how patients use the Internet are by no means new.   Drawing on her latest book, Remaking the American Patient: How Madison Avenue and Modern Medicine Turned Patients into Consumers (University of North Carolina Press, 2016), Tomes will put the current debates over the value of “medical Googlers” in historical perspective.  She will explore the long term factors that have generated those debates and conclude with some reflections on what history can teach us about the present and future prospects for patient engagement.   


Nancy Tomes teaches US cultural and social history, the history of medicine, and women’s history at Stony Brook University in Stony Brook NY, where she is a Distinguished Professor.  Her research interests have ranged widely over the past four decades, but almost all focus on the intersection between expert knowledge and popular understandings of the body and disease.

A profilic author, her books include A Generous Confidence: Thomas Story Kirkbride and the Art of Asylum Keeping (1984); Madness in America: Cultural and Medical Perceptions of Mental Illness Before 1914 (with Lynn Gamwell, 1995); The Gospel of Germs: Men, Women and the Microbe in American Life (1998); and Remaking the American Patient: How Madison Avenue and Modern Medicine Turned Patients into Consumers (2016), among other works. 

Prof. Tomes has created a website, Medicine and Madison Avenue, on the history of health-related advertising, developed in collaboration with Duke University Library’s Special Collections.

She is currently doing research on history of psychiatry while also pursuing many unfinished threads from Remaking the American Patient, including the impact of the Internet on doctor-patient interactions, and a comparative look at medical consumerism in other countries.

Knowledge Center Host Finals Week Event For Students

The Knowledge Center held a week long event where students could come to relax and take a break from finals. Games, puzzles, coloring books, videos, and snacks were provided to students on a daily basis.  The highlight of the week was Wynston the service dog who was accompanied  by  representatives from the Center for Student Wellness.  Wynston’s visit was embraced by everyone in attendance. 


Wynston The Service Dog

Wynston The Service Dog

Students Relax With a Puzzle

Student Artwork

Student Artwork

Student Artwork


Thank you to all of those who participated throughout the week.  

Don't Get Tangled, Get Organized

Don’t Get Tangled, Get Organized! – Tips and Tricks on Making Your Work More Efficient

Are you drowning in a flood of information? This class will help you to organize information and become more efficient.  Learn how to customize your searches, manage your search results in databases and on your desktop, and stay up-to-date in your field of interest.

Who should attend:  New students, faculty and staff or anyone who wants to learn how to organize their work.

By the end of this session you will be able to:

EndNote for PC users

Endnote manages all your citations and automatically converts them to the citation style you need. In this hands-on class, you will learn how to store, search and select references, then insert them automatically into your word processing document.

Results of the study room survey are in

In February the Health Sciences Library received 127 responses to our Lower Level 1 study room feedback survey. After reviewing the responses we developed an action plan to improve your study experience.

Action plan

  • Short term - We are revising our internal procedures for monitoring room maintenance and the posting of schedules. Additional signage to clarify quiet spaces and ensure communication options to report uncomfortable temperatures is also being investigated.
  • Medium term - We will investigate allowing rooms to be reserved on the half hour to align better with class schedules.
  • Long term - We will investigate reconfiguring library spaces to facilitate groups of different sizes and will consider noise reducing materials. 

A full report is available for download.