Finding Aids at Your Fingertips

Dickinson W. Richards papers

Augustus C. Long Health Sciences Library
Archives & Special Collections

701 W. 168th Street
HHSC LL1-111
New York, NY 10032

Richards, Dickinson W.

2.5 cubic feet



Personal papers of U.S. physician, Dickinson W. Richards (1895-1973), alumnus (M.A. 1922; M.D. 1923) and faculty member (1925-1973) of Columbia University's College of Physicians & Surgeons. Richards served as Intern (1924) and Resident (1925-1927) at Presbyterian Hospital, with later positions there (1928-1961) and at Bellevue Hospital (1933-1961), and consulted for Merck & Co. Richards received the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1956, along with André Cournand and Werner Forssmann for their work relating to heart catheterization.

Expand All    Collapse All

Collection Details

Processed 2016-2017.

Gift of Mary Chamberlin (granddaughter), 2013 and 2017 (Accessions #2013.010; #2017.008). The 2017 was also the gift of Abigail Woodruff Russell Prior.

Dickinson Woodruff Richards, Jr. was born in Orange, New Jersey on October 30, 1895 to his father, also D.W. Richards and mother, Sally. He had three sisters: Katherine, Josephine, Gertrude, and a brother Edward.

He attended Yale University (B.A. 1917) and upon graduation, joined the United States Army, serving as an artillery officer in France at the end of the First World War. In 1919, he was discharged and entered Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons (M.D. 1923). In addition to his medical degree, he also received a Master of Arts degree (1922) in physiology under the guidance of Professor Ernest L. Scott.

He taught at Columbia beginning in 1925 and served as Intern (1924) and Resident (1925-1927) at Presbyterian Hospital, with later positions there (1928-1961) and at Bellevue Hospital (1933- 1961). Before 1968, Bellevue Hospital’s First Medical Division was staffed by faculty from Columbia University’s College of Physicians & Surgeons. During this time, he collaborated with André Cournand at Bellevue Hospital in the fields of pulmonary and cardiac diseases. Dickinson, along with Cournand and German physician Werner Forssmann, received a Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1956 for “their discoveries concerning heart catheterization and pathological changes in the circulatory system.”[1]

Richards also served as Scientific Director (1937-1950), among other roles, to the Merck Institute and edited the Merck Manual. The Merck Company Foundation endowed a professorship in medicine in his honor at Columbia University in 1968.

He co-authored the book, Circulation of the Blood: Men and Ideas (New York: Oxford University Press, 1964) with Alfred P. Fishman, and Medical Priesthoods and Other Essays (Connecticut Printers, 1970). He received the Trudeau Medal from the National Tuberculosis and Respiratory Disease Association (1968), the Kober Medal from the Association of American Physicians (1970), and the Diamond Jubilee Medal from Bellevue Hospital (1973).

He retired from Presbyterian and Bellevue hospitals in 1961, serving as a medical consultant for a number of years. He died in Lakeville, Connecticut on February 23, 1973 at the age of 77.

These papers contain correspondence written during his military training and deployment in France during the First World War, and correspondence, academic papers, notes, films, and other material documenting his career as a physician and research physiologist at Columbia University, Bellevue and Presbyterian Hospitals, and the Merck Institute.

Arranged into two accessions.

  • Archives & Special Collections’ André F. Cournand Papers also hold papers of Richards in Boxes 35-36, as well as correspondence from Richards to Cournand.
  • The "Reminiscences of Dickinson W. Richards: Oral History, 1964," is found in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University. Library, Columbia University.

Collection Access & Use

These records are open for research without restriction.

Open for research

Dickinson W. Richards Papers, Archives & Special Collections, Columbia University Health Sciences Library.

Collection Subjects & Formats

Series : Accession #2013.010

Date: 1933 - 1973

Box: 1-6

Correspondence; academic papers and talks in the form of manuscripts and reprints; notes, drawings, reports, a photograph album and films document the life and career of Richards. Of note are black and white photographs of Richards and colleagues housed in a custom-made album presented to Richards by Merck & Co; moving pictures depicting Richards and other recipients honored at the Nobel Prize ceremony in Sweden in 1956.

Bellevue Hospital correspondence

Date: 1969

Box-folder: 1.1

"Boston City Hospital talk"

Date: 1964

Box-folder: 1.2

Boston City Hospital, Thorndike Memorial

Date: 1964

Box-folder: 1.3

CIBA Foundation Symposia "Pulmonary structure and Function" notes

Date: 1961

Box-folder: 1.4

"Continuing Education," Bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine 47.11 (1971) Part of a symposium titled "Introduction to Old Age"

Date: 1971

Box-folder: 1.5

Diamond Jubilee Medal for new Bellevue Hospital

Date: 1973

Box-folder: 1.6

Dickinson W. Richards Professorship in Medicine, Columbia University

Date: 1968

Box-folder: 1.7

Dickinson W. Richards Professorship in Medicine and Merck Company Foundation correspondence

Date: 1968

Box-folder: 1.8

Dickinson W. Richards Professorship in Medicine, Merck Company Foundation Dinner

Date: October 21, 1968

Box-folder: 1.9

Photograph Album: “Dickenson W. Richards, M.D. Merck Institute, 1937-1968”

Date: 1968


"The effect of pancreas extract on depancreatized dogs: Ernst L. Scott's thesis of 1911" manuscript,

Date: 1966

Box-folder: 1.10

Funeral prayers for Dickinson W. Richards, Sr. (1858-1933)

Date: 1933

Box-folder: 1.11

George Merck Memorial Loan Fund, printed report

Date: 1959

Box-folder: 1.12

Hippocrates and history manuscript

Date: 1968

Box-folder: 1.13

Homostasis correspondence

Date: 1962

Box-folder: 1.14

Hyper / Hypo ventilation chapter

Date: 1961

Box-folder: 2.1

Kober Medal

Date: 1970

Box-folder: 1.15

Kober Medal to Dana W. Atchley, reprint

Date: 1969

Box-folder: 1.16

Medical ethics course clinical research

Date: January 9, 1973

Box-folder: 1.17

Memorial Resolution, Columbia University

Date: 1973

Box-folder: 1.18

Merck & Company, Inc. correspondence and agreements

Date: 1967 - 1971

: 1.19

Note with drawing of "Radio-krypton injected into pleural space…"

Date: September, 1956

Box-folder: 1.20

"Our are medical schools qualified to teach medicine?" manuscript read at the annual meeting of the Medical Alumni Association of the University of North Carolina School of Medicine

Date: April 5, 1968

Box-folder: 1.21

"Presentation of the Academy plaque to James Burns Amberson, MD," reprint, Bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine

Date: September, 1970

Box-folder: 1.22

Scott, Ernst: research

Date: 1965

Box-folder: 1.23

Box-folder: 2.4

Trudeau Medal

Date: 1968

Box-folder: 1.24

Textbook chapters and correspondence

Date: 1960s-1971

Box-folder: 2.2

Speeches and other writings

Date: 1957 - 1973

Box-folder: 2.3

Film [fran?] Nobel festen

Date: 1956

Box: 3

Extent: 1

The Nobel Prize festivities at the Stockholm Concert Hall

Date: December 10, 1956

Box: 4

Box: 5

Extent: 2

Untitled film, Depicts Richards and André Cournand conducting procedure with patient?

Date: 1960s

Box: 6

Series : Accession #2017.008: World War I Correspondence

Date: 1916 - 1919

Correspondence from Dickinson Richards to his family members, the bulk being letters addressed to his mother, Sally Richards, living at 163 Irving Avenue South Orange, New Jersey; her summer residence at Sunapee, New Hampshire; and her New York City residence at 43 East 72nd Street. He also writes to his father, Dickinson W. Richard; his sisters Katherine, Josephine, and Gertrude; and his brother Edward. Included are postcards, telegrams, and accompanying photographs.

Subseries : From Dickinson W. Richards [Jr.] To Sally Richards

Date: 1916 - 1918

Box: 7

Box: 8

Box-folder: 9.1

Box-folder: 9.2

Subseries : From Dickinson W. Richards [Jr.]

Date: 1917 - 1919

Box-folder: 9.3

Box-folder: 9.4

Box-folder: 9.5

Box-folder: 9.6

Subseries : To Dickinson W. Richards [Jr.]

Date: September 5, 1918 - October 18, 1918

Box-folder: 9.8