Academic Informatics and Technology

Coons, Sheldon R., Papers, 1928-1978


Creator: Sheldon R. Coons
Titles: Papers
Dates: 1928-1978
Volume: 2 boxes, 10 inches


Some of these papers were received from the Office of the President when their files were shipped. Some were gathered by Albert S. Lyons, M.D. in the 1970s, perhaps from the Director's Office or from Mr. Coons himself. The files from the President's storeroom had suffered water damage and some had mold on them. Many of the papers were photocopied and the originals destroyed because of this. Any damaged material that was duplicated elsewhere, was discarded.


Sheldon R. Coons was born January 12, 1895 in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. His early career was spent in advertising and public relations. At the age of 24 he came to New York to work at Gimbel Bros., leaving there in 1931 to join the advertising agency of Lord & Thomas, then run by Albert Lasker. In 1940 he created his own company, becoming a business counselor to various corporations, including RCA, Pepsi-Cola, Schenley Distillers, the National Broadcasting Company and others. He was brought onto the Board of Trustees of The Mount Sinai Hospital in 1936 because of his expertise in public relations. He was quickly put to work reviewing various publications that the Hospital produced, and advising on fundraising and media efforts. His contributions to the Board and Mount Sinai expanded well beyond its publicity efforts over the years. In 1975, Coons was awarded a Jacobi Medallion by the Mount Sinai Alumni in recognition of his efforts on Mount Sinai's behalf.

The following biographical statement relating to his career at Mount Sinai was drawn from the obituary that appeared in The Mount Sinai Medical Center News in November 1979:

An astute advisor to Mount Sinai as well as to the business executives he counseled, Mr. Coons was an invaluable resource for Mount Sinai since he joined the Board of the Hospital in 1936. As Chairman of the Nominating Committee for over two decades, Mr. Coons played an important role in recruiting many of the Board members and officers of the Hospital and Medical School. Mr. Coons was instrumental in bringing the late Gustave L. Levy, Board Chairman, to Mount Sinai, and when Mr. Levy died, stepped in to fill the breach. Mr. Coons, who was for many years the First Vice Chairman of the three Medical Center Boards, actively served on many vital committees, including the Committee on Education, the Committee on Public Relations, and the Executive Committee, all as Chairman. In December 1976, on the occasion of his fortieth anniversary of service to Mount Sinai, Mr. Coons was honored by the Board for his "devoted, faithful, and effective service." This past May, at the Tenth Commencement Exercises of the Medical School, Mr. Coons was awarded the Doctor of Humane Letters degree for his "unsurpassed intelligence, keen insight, excellent judgment, unfailing graciousness, and lasting optimism... his contributions are innumerable; his faith in the efficacy of intelligence and compassion in solving all problems is a lasting inspiration." Mr. Coons, a Founding Sponsor of Mount Sinai School of Medicine, was a prime mover in its establishment and development.

Mr. Coons died on September 21, 1979. He was survived by his wife, Elizabeth, his son Joseph, and daughter, Deirdre. Another son, Sheldon Coons, Jr., was killed in World War II, and Mr. Coons endowed a lecture room and a lecture in his honor.

Scope and Content

These files are certainly only a small portion of those created by Mr. Coons over his long association with Mount Sinai. They provide much information about Mount Sinai and the workings of the Trustees, and also provide insight into Mr. Coons' personality. He was very thorough and made extensive notes to remind him of conversations he had about various hospital matters. (The aide memoire he wrote after a long car ride with Alexander Gutman, M.D., Director of the Department of Medicine is but one example.) He was precise, with a strong sense of honor, humility, and right and wrong. He clearly loved Mount Sinai and worked tirelessly on the institution's behalf.

The files of Sheldon Coons are important not only for what are included in them, but also because there are few other sources available for these years. The Director's Office files from this time are very thin. Also, this is a rare look into the workings of the Trustees from a man who was the trusted adviser to several Board Presidents. Of special note is the file for the Nominations Committee, which contains information about what type of Trustees the institution was seeking at various points of time, as well as information on particular candidates. Note, information in this file is restricted until the death of the individuals involved. The files of the many high level search committees that Mr. Coons led are full of information not documented elsewhere, on the personalities involved and the state of the various departments at the time. The Gusberg/Boland file is similar in providing information about the workings of the Radiotherapy and Obstetrics/Gynecology Departments. Also, Mr. Coons was very involved in the events leading up to the recognition of Local 1199 as the union for Mount Sinai workers. The file here is essential reading to understand this topic.

Also of interest are the files devoted to Nursing at Mount Sinai. Mr. Coons was on the Hospital Board's Nursing Committee for many years, but not on the Board of The Mount Sinai Hospital School of Nursing. He headed an effort to study the state of nursing during the later 1950s, towards the end of Miss Warman's tenure, when things were not going well for the department. The data and report are found here. This study helped point the way toward what was needed when a new Director of Nursing came in 1962, Mary Jane Venger, R.N.

The subjects not found here that Mr. Coons was involved in include the founding of the School of Medicine, his efforts as Acting Chairman after the death of Gus Levy, his own philanthropy to Mount Sinai, and later efforts with the Public Affairs office.


The Nominating Committee file contains personal information restricted until the death of the individuals involved.


  • Association of the Attending Staff: Box 2, f. 4
  • Board of Trustees, MS
  • Boland, John: Box 1, f. 7, f. 13
  • City Hospital Center at Elmhurst: Box 1, f. 9
  • Dalldorf, Gilbert: Box 1, f. 6
  • Federation of Jewish Philanthropies: Box 1, f. 11
  • Fundraising: Box 1, f. 2, f. 10
  • Gusberg, Saul B: Box 1, f. 4, f.13
  • Gutman, Alexander B.: Box 1, f.14
  • Kark, Allan E.: Box 1, f.8
  • Klemperer, Paul: Box 1, f. 6
  • Klingenstein, Joseph
  • Leopold, Irving H.: Box 1, f. 5
  • Levy, Gustave L.: Box 2, f. 1
  • Medicine, Dept. of: Box 2, f. 2
  • National Union of Hospital and Healthcare Employees. District 1199: Box 2, f. 9
  • Nursing, Dept. of: Box 2, f. 4-6
  • Obstetrics/Gynecology, Dept. of: Box 1, f. 4, f. 13
  • Ophthalmology, Dept. of: Box 1, f. 5
  • Pathology, Dept. of: Box 1, f. 6
  • Popper, Hans: Box 1, f. 6
  • Prinzmetal, Myron: Box 2, f. 7
  • Public Relations: Box 2, f. 8
  • Radiotherapy, Dept. of: Box 1, f. 7, f. 13
  • Stern, Alfred R.: Box 1, f. 1
  • Surgery, Dept. of: Box 1, f. 8
  • Tuchman, Lester R.: Box 1, f. 9

Container List






Board of Trustees-Ad Hoc Sub-Committee to Recommend New Chairman of Board, 11/1976-4/1977.



Building Fund Pamphlet-Corresp. Re: Pamphlet; Letters re: Drive; Earlier Fundraising Material, 1928, 1938-39.



Clinical Excellence Committee-Memos, 1975.



Committees: Obstetrics/Gynecology Search Committee-Memos re: Process to Hire Dr. Gusberg, 1961-62.



Committees: Ophthalmology Search Committee-memos; Notes re: Search and Department (Leopold Hired), 1954-55, 1963-75.



Committees: Pathology Search Committee-Search to Succeed Klemperer, 1955-57, 1964.



Committees: Radiotherapy Search Committee-Memos, etc. re: Candidates, especially John Boland, 1956-59.



Committees: Surgery Selection Committee-Memos, 1961.



Elmhurst-Memos; Draft Press Releases re: NY Times' Criticism of Affiliation, 5-6/1968.



Endowments Committee-Memos; Minutes, 1939-1958.



Federation, 1944-1963.



General Memos; Corresp. Re: Various Mount Sinai Topics, 11/1939-1976.



Gusberg/Boland Issue-Memos, Report on Gusberg's Desire to do Radiotherapy for Uterine Cancer, 1962-63.



Gutman, Alexander-Aide Memoire of Conversation on Situation at the Hospital, 8/10/1955.



Interregnum-Memos; Corresp. Re: Mount Sinai During Acting Chairman term, 11/1976-7/1977.



Levy, Gustave—Memorial Tribute, 11/1976-1/1977.



Medicine, Dept. of-Memos re: Meetings on Financial Issues in Dept., 1975-76.



Nominating Committee, Board of Trustees-Memos; Report, 1955-78. [RESTRICTED]



Nursing-Memos; Report by Association of the Attending Staff, 12/1958-1967.



Nursing: Committee to Study Department-Memos; data; Minutes Providing State of Nursing at MSH, 1956-58.



Nursing: Housing and Recruitment-Memos, 1947-53, 1957.



Prinzmetal, Myron-Documents, Letters in Support of Dr. Prinzmetal, 1963.



Public Relations-Memos; Reports re: PR Efforts, 1942, 1956-74.



Union-Memos; Clippings; Flyers re: Unionization Drive, Strike, Permanent Administrative Committee, 1959-66.

Processed BJN, 10/06