Arthur H. Aufses, Jr. MD Archives Blog

Tim Hayes, M.P.A, M.L.I.S. is the Circulation Supervisor at the Levy Library. As part of completing his Master of Library and Information Sciences degree earlier this year, he interned with the Aufses Archives and processed the Henry Dazian Estate and Dazian Foundation for Medical Research Records. In this post, Tim shares what he was able to find in that collection as it relates to the naming of the Dazian Pavilion. See this link for Part 1 of this blog post. 

Coming into this project, I knew there was a question that hadn’t been answered yet (when was the Dazian Pavilion at Beth Israel Hospital named?), and a collection of materials corresponding to the presumed namesake (Henry Dazian Estate and Dazian Foundation for Medical Research records). 

Henry Dazian set the majority of his estate, under the guidance of his executor, Emil Friedlander, to the establishment of Dazian Foundation for Medical Research. The foundation was established with a 25-year term with a primary mission of “the advancement of medical and allied scientific knowledge.” The estate stipulated it was to have a self-perpetuating board that consisted of five Doctors of Medicine and four laymen. 

My first goal was to see if an eponymous building was a condition of Henry Dazian’s will. Looking through the multiple copies present in the Foundation records, I was able to determine two things. Firstly, Dazian had not set down any naming stipulations related to bequests in his will, and secondly, upon the dissolution of the Foundation, all remaining money in the estate was to be distributed to hospitals, sanitariums, and similar such institutions. No specific institutions were named. 

The next breadcrumb was the minutes of a special meeting for the Directors of the Dazian Foundation of Medical Research. Held on November 9th, 1961, these minutes include a resolution “unanimously adopted” to distribute the foundation’s funds to various institutions, including: “$850,000 to Beth Israel Hospital for the Dazian Pavilion.” This is equivalent to about $8.7 million in 2024 dollars (based on Bureau of Labor Statistics information). The consensus among the Archives staff was that such a sum merited a named endowment at that time.  

I also found a note in an auditor’s report, saying that “on May 14 of 1959, the Board of Trustees of the Foundation adopted a resolution to donate $100,000 to the Actor’s [sic] Fund of America, payable after May, 1962…Designated rooms, or a wing, are to be dedicated to the memory of Henry Dazian.” 

It’s important to be careful about your own preconceived narratives as a researcher, and here mine got me derailed; I took that comment to mean the Foundation was seeking to memorialize Dazian before May of 1959, and started looking closely at the correspondence that predated that. Despite reading through a great deal of the correspondence leading up to that point, I found no other mentions of memorializing Dazian. 

It was only after I started looking at the correspondence after that point that I noticed a 1960 letter from Arthur Fishberg, president of the Dazian Foundation for Medical Research from 1956 until its dissolution in 1962), to a Dr. Rachmilewitz at The Hebrew University in Israel. Attempting to clear up a miscommunication, Fishberg said that the board had planned three projects within New York “as the most suitable memorializations[sic] of Mr. Dazian in the city in which he passed his entire life.” 

Realizing that I had been looking in the wrong direction, I decided to hunt more thoroughly for the minutes from that annual meeting in May of 1959. These showed a bit more of a story. In that meeting, Friedlander proposed a motion to give $100,000 to the Actors’ Fund. This must have been a somewhat contentious vote; the minutes make a note that two of the Foundation’s board members voted against the proposal, and records state how each member of the board voted – a rarity among the minutes, which may imply an unusual level of disagreement. 

Additional meetings about the ultimate disposition of capital funds were held in both July and October of 1959, but no minutes of either meeting were included in the records we possess. Finally, on December 2, 1959, the board members of the Foundation were urged to attend a meeting “to discuss a matter of great importance.”  

In the minutes of this meeting, Alfred M. Rose proposed a motion to allocate $800,000 to the Beth Israel Hospital. The motion was seconded by Emil Friedlander, and unanimously approved by the board. An allocation is also set aside for the Hospital for Joint Diseases, and each trustee of the foundation is given the right to allocate $25,000 to any institutions permitted by Henry Dazian in his will. Taken together, this finally satisfied our curiosities about the naming of the Dazian Pavilion. 

The newly processed records provide a rich body of historical materials for interested researchers. Future avenues of investigation include studying the lives of those who lived in Dazian’s real estate holdings and the living conditions of New York City at that time. The notes of the Foundation members provide insight into their decision-making about what research was funded, which in turn, shaped the history of medicine. Dr. Arthur M. Fishberg, for instance, often included the notes and opinions of the board members showing how decisions were often made on the basis of age, race, and other characteristics of the applicants that would now be protected, and it was shocking to see such blatant discrimination.  

Now fully open to research, with description to allow intellectual access, the Aufses Archives is eager to assist those who may also have a seemingly straightforward, or profoundly complicated, topic to investigate.