Cunningham, Eileen Roach (1894-1965)

 Digital Record
Identifier: 427
Cunningham, Eileen Roach (1894-1965)


  • 1929 - 1965

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Historical or Biographical Note

Mrs. Eileen Cunningham began her career as a research assistant in the anatomy department at Johns Hopkins University. She later married Sydney Cunningham and moved with him to Nashville when he became Professor of Anatomy at Vanderbilt in 1925. After joining the medical library staff at Vanderbilt in 1926, Cunningham was appointed Associate Librarian at Vanderbilt School of Medicine (1928) and Head Librarian (1929). It was here that she developed a new scheme of classifying medical literature by anatomical system, based on her method for filing reprints at Johns Hopkins. Eventually, the Cunningham Classification for Medical Literature went through four published editions and was adopted by medical libraries throughout the world. It was later used as the basis for both the Army Medical Library and the National Library of Medicine's classification plans.

An active member of the Medical Library Association, Mrs. Cunningham chaired the MLA committee charged with obtaining foreign medical and scientific literature. In 1935, she attended the first conference of the International Federation of Library Associations; thereafter, she was to be found at almost every worldwide gathering of librarians that might occur. Her worldwide reputation increased, as assignments with UNESCO and the U.S. State Department were added to her other obligations. In 1947, Cunningham became president of MLA; in 1949, she was honored with the first Marcia C. Noyes Award for medical librarianship.

Cunningham retired and gained Librarian Emeritus status in 1956, though she did not rest long; within two years, she organized the Basic Medical Sciences Institute in Karachi, Pakistan. Thereafter, she continued her travels, attendance at library functions, and public service work. Cunningham passed away in 1965.

For more information, please see the VUMC Online Biography of Eileen Cunningham.

Language of Materials



Biographical file includes numerous photographs, correspondence, obituaries, VUSM Library catalogs, academic journal article, negatives, card catalog entries, magazine articles, poetry, newspaper clippings, programs, and other biographical data.

Repository Details

Part of the VUMC Historical Images and Biographies Repository

Eskind Biomedical Library
2209 Garland Ave.
Nashville TN 37232


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