NYMC > News and Events > News Archives

HSL Receives 1827 Benjamin Rush Textbook Donated by Peter Bentivegna, M.D. ’85

The book, Medical Inquiries and Observations Upon the Diseases of the Mind, was added to the College’s collection of books by the famed physician.

June 01, 2021
Peter Bentivegna, M.D. ’85, Marie T. Ascher, M.S., M.P.H., and Nicholas Webb, MSIS Group Headshot
Peter Bentivegna, M.D. ’85, Marie T. Ascher, M.S., M.P.H., & Nicholas Webb, MSIS

“It’s carrying on a tradition,” said Dr. Bentivegna, whose father, the late Saverio S. Bentivegna, M.D. ’50, professor emeritus of surgery who served as senior associate dean of the Pre-Internship Program and its predecessor, the Fifth Pathway Program, donated a 1576 collection of the Greek physician Galen in 1962. “I’m very pleased and honored to be able to donate this to my medical school.”

Dr. Rush was a leading doctor during the time of the United States’ founding in 1776 and one of five physician signers of the Declaration of Independence. Dr. Rush prioritized physician-patient relationships which served as a model for physicians for centuries to come.

“This is someone who is a forgotten founding father and signer of the Declaration of Independence,” Dr. Bentivegna said.

The textbook, which despite small markings appears in remarkable condition for its age, was placed as the centerpiece to a display containing other works by Benjamin Rush in the Library Reading Room, including his writings on yellow fever, on bloodletting and on military hospitals during the Revolutionary War, according to Mr. Webb. Medical Inquiries and Observations Upon the Diseases of the Mind will be the College’s first work of Rush’s to delve into psychiatry.

“Dr. Bentivegna’s new donation of Benjamin Rush’s psychiatry textbook is of great importance to the history of early American medicine and the origins of modern psychiatry, and we are proud to have a permanent home for it in the Health Sciences Library,” Mr. Webb said.

NYMC boasts the first intergenerational chapter of the Benjamin Rush Institute at a medical college, where aspiring or experienced medical professionals can connect in formal and informal settings to discuss the ethics of the physician-patient relationship as well as the political and economic implications of different health care provision models for the United States. The chapter is open to students, faculty and alumni, and Dr. Bentivegna oversees the alumni engagement of the chapter.