Richard Upjohn Light Biographical File

Identifier: EBL-0652

  • Staff Only


Biographical file includes photographs, obituary, and articles.


  • 1986 - 1994

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Copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

Historical or Biographical Note

Richard Upjohn Light was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and graduated from Culver Military Academy in 1920. After graduating from Yale University in 1924, Light went to the University of Michigan Medical School. He then postponed residency to join the Army Air Corps. Light qualified as a pilot in 1929, then entolled at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston as a resident in neurosurgery.

Light helped develop surgical tools like an electric drill to replace the brace and bit device used to penetrate the skull. In 1936, after two years as director of the surgical laboratory at the Yale Medical School, he one year at the University of Rochester Medical School. Previously, in 1934, Light, along with a fellow Yale graduate as radio operator, set forth from New Haven in a single-engine float plane on a widely-publicized round-the-world journey. Later, he and his wife flew a single-engine place the length of South America, crossed the South Atlantic by ship, then flew north from Cape Town. The resulting study and aerial photos were published by the American Geographical Society as a book, Focus on Africa. Light was elected to the council of the American Geographical Society in 1941 and served as the organization's president from 1947 to 1955.

Light concentrated on medicine, geography, and education from the late 1930s onward, serving as the director of the Upjohn Company, the pharmaceuticals giant founded by his granfather, from 1937 to 1968. He served on the Yale University Council from 1956 to 1963 and as a trustee on the Kalamazoo Foundation from 1947 to 1972. Light passed away in 1994.


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Language of Materials


Richard Upjohn Light (1902-1994) biographical file
Processed by EBL Special Collections Staff
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is inEnglish.

Repository Details

Part of the VUMC Historical Images and Biographies Repository

Eskind Biomedical Library
2209 Garland Ave.
Nashville TN 37232


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