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150 Years of Whitney Family History Donated to Yale

The department of Manuscripts and Archives in the Yale University Library is pleased to announce that it has received the papers of the John Hay Whitney and Betsey Cushing Whitney family, the records of the John Hay Whitney Foundation, and the records of Greentree Stud & Stable. Donated to Yale by the Greentree Foundation, a nonprofit organization created by the Whitney family in 1982 and dedicated to peace, human rights and international cooperation, the papers document the personal, family, and professional lives of a prominent American family with significant ties to Yale University.

Among his many accomplishments, John Hay Whitney (1904-1982, Yale Class of 1926, Fellow of the Yale Corporation 1955-1973) was one of the country’s first venture capitalists, an ambassador to the United Kingdom in the Eisenhower administration, and publisher of the New York Herald Tribune. Betsey Cushing Whitney (1908-1998) was a noted philanthropist in the fields of medicine, education, and the arts; a member of the Defense Advisory Committee advocating policies for American servicewomen in the 1950s; and the primary force behind the establishment of the Greentree Foundation. Together, they created one of the most significant fine art collections in American history and subsequently donated many works to the Yale University Art Gallery, the Museum of Modern Art and the National Gallery of Art. The Whitney family papers also include materials about John Hay Whitney’s ancestors including his mother, Helen Hay Whitney (1876-1944), a distinguished poet and writer, and his grandfather, John M. Hay (1838-1905), author, statesman and assistant secretary to President Abraham Lincoln. Materials from Betsey Cushing Whitney’s family, including her father Dr. Harvey Cushing (1869-1939), pioneer neurosurgeon, and her mother Kate Crowell Cushing are also included.

The family papers consist of extensive correspondence, diaries, writings, photographs, scrapbooks, financial files, business and art collection management records. The John Hay Whitney Foundation records include financial and program files that document the Foundation’s innovative educational programs in the humanities and social sciences. The Greentree Stud & Stable records include legal and financial files and photographs that chronicle the Stable’s success in horse breeding and racing. Taken together, these collections provide researchers with a robust picture of the Whitney family’s many important contributions.

“We have long been interested in preserving the significant history that is documented in the papers of the Whitney Family,” said Christine Weideman, Director of Manuscripts and Archives. “We are delighted and grateful that the Foundation has made it possible for us to do so.”

The donation is the latest example of the Whitney family’s generous support of Yale. The family funded the building of the Payne Whitney Gymnasium in memory of Payne Whitney. The Yale Medical Library’s historical collection began with a donation by Dr. Harvey Cushing (Yale Class of 1891). A donation by John Hay Whitney helped Yale to establish the Whitney Humanities Center. A gift from Betsey Cushing Whitney made possible the renovation and expansion of the Medical Library which was then renamed the Harvey Cushing/John Hay Whitney Medical Library.

Given the Whitney family’s longstanding relationship with Yale, both the Greentree Foundation and the department of Manuscripts and Archives are pleased that the papers will be preserved by the University and made available to the research community.

For more information about the records, contact Caro Pinto, Project Archivist, in Manuscripts and Archives at 203-436-8405 or caro.pinto@yale.edu.