The Presbyterian Hospital was founded in 1868 by James Lenox; in 1911, the Hospital joined with the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons to combine health care and education, and in 1928 the hospital moved to its current location on W. 168th Street in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan and became the Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center. Babies Hospital (founded 1887) and the Neurological Institute (founded 1909) were consolidated with the hospital in 1943, and the New York Orthopedic Hospital (founded 1866) was added in 1945. In 1998, following the merger of New York Hospital and Presbyterian Hospital on Dec. 31, 1997, the name was changed to the New York-Presbyterian Hospital.
The Presbyterian Hospital Auxiliary was founded in 1908 by Mrs. Walter B. James at the request of Dr. Linsley R. Williams, Chief of the Vanderbilt Clinic, and was originally known as the Vanderbilt Clinic Auxiliary. Members provided volunteer labor at the clinic, as well as gifts of cash, food, toys and clothing to patients. Between 1909 and 1921, projects supported by the Auxiliary included a summer day camp, a visiting nurse service, an employment referral service, instruction for young mothers in the areas of cooking and sewing and the founding of Everybody’s Attic (later known as Everybody’s Thrift Shop), the first thrift shop in the City of New York.
In 1950, the name of the organization was changed to the Women’s Auxiliary of the Presbyterian Hospital in the City of New York; in 1976 it was changed again to Presbyterian Hospital Auxiliary; and in September of 1998, it became the New York-Presbyterian Hospital Auxiliary.
The work of the Auxiliary, however, remained much the same. Auxilians, as they called themselves, continued to provide volunteer labor (most notably during hospital strikes) and were responsible for the development of the Volunteer Service, the Milbank Library (a patient library), the Occupational and Recreational Therapy services and the Emergency Loan Fund for Medical Center residents. The Auxiliary also continued to support social services programming, and in particular projects relating to AIDS patients and teenage parents. In addition to supporting the general work of the hospital, Auxilians aided with fundraising for the Hospital by participating in United Hospital Fund (UHF) activities, sponsoring a yearly benefit, and assisting with the running of both the thrift shop, and, when that closed, a gift shop.
Outside the hospital, Auxilians served as lobbyists for the hospital on the state and local level, and were involved with the Medical Center Nursery School as parents and board members.
Between 1980 and the present, the Auxiliary absorbed two of the auxiliaries attached to hospitals that had previously merged with Presbyterian Hospital. The New York Orthopedic Hospital Auxiliary merged with the PHA administratively in 1980 and financially in 1988, and the Neurological Institute Auxiliary joined with PHA in 1986. The Babies Hospital Board of Women Managers remains independent. Also, though the name of the Auxiliary changed in 1998 to reflect the merger of New York Hospital and Presbyterian Hospital, the remit of the organization did not expand to include the former New York Hospital, and the records do not reflect any connections to any auxiliaries there.
The Neurological Institute, founded in 1909, was the first nongovernmental hospital in the United States solely dedicated to the treatment of diseases of the nervous system. Originally located at 67th Street and Lexington Avenue, it moved to W. 168th Street in 1929. The Women’s Auxiliary, originally known as the Cooperative Committee, was founded in 1924 to “promote the interests of the hospital and help with maintenance and equipment.” Early activities included annual lecture series, fundraising events, the development of patient libraries, coordinating the sale of items made by occupational therapy patients, provision of linens to the operating room, and support of annual Christmas entertainment. It became known as the Neurological Institute Committee after the merger with the Presbyterian Hospital Auxiliary.
The New York Orthopedic Hospital, originally known as the New York Orthopaedic Dispensary, was founded in 1866, when Theodore Roosevelt, father of the president of the same name, took an interest in the care of crippled children. Originally located on Broadway between 35th and 36th Streets, the hospital moved several times within Manhattan before becoming part of the Medical Center complex on W. 168th Street in 1950.
The Board of Lady Supervisors of the New York Orthopaedic Dispensary and Hospital was formed at the request of the doctors in 1877. Their activities included supporting beds in the Dispensary for poor children, covering Hospital expenses, paying for a teacher for patients, support of the physical plant and covering the costs of sending children to the country.
The first reference to “auxiliaries” is in 1908, when three “guilds” are discussed in the annual report of the Board of Lady Supervisors. One of the guilds was a general sewing circle which provided linens for the Hospital, and the other two were affiliated with specific wards. Their activities included general fundraising, supporting ward beds, providing gifts for patients at Christmas and Easter and contributing to the Fruit, Vegetable and Ice Cream Funds.
The guilds continued these activities through the 1940s; at some point in the latter half of the 20th century, the name of the organization changed to the New York Orthopedic Hospital Auxiliary. Under that name, the group continued to participate in general fundraising and patient care related activities, as well as the thrift and gift shops. The Auxiliary became known as the Orthopedic Committee after the merger with the Presbyterian Hospital Auxiliary.