Libby Wilcox: Her Lens Captured 20th Century Giants, Moments

January 22, 2016

Elizabeth "Libby" Wilcox

Jan. 24, 2016, would have been the 100th birthday of one of the most important preservers of the legacy of Columbia University Medical Center. Elizabeth “Libby” Wilcox, who died in 2000, took photos at the medical center from 1957 to 1991.

Mrs. Wilcox, the wife of long-time Columbia alum and faculty member, Herbert “Bud” Wilcox Jr., MD’34, was given unimpeded access to the workings of the medical center. Her camera captured the daily routines and extraordinary events of a great academic medical center during a period of tremendous change for American medicine. She photographed medical legends Virginia Apgar, Dana Atchley, and Robert Loeb; such breakthroughs as pediatric open-heart surgery in 1958; and long-vanished medical center landmarks, including Maxwell Hall and the Fort Washington Avenue greenhouses.

Dr. and Mrs. Wilcox donated her archive of more than 100,000 images (most in negative form) to Columbia in 1991.

A digital exhibit of her photos, available here, was coordinated by Stephen E. Novak, head of Archives & Special Collections. More information about the exhibit or about the Wilcox Collection can be requested by sending e-mail to Archives & Special Collections (