Dr. Joyce Brothers on the set of “Tell Me, Dr. Brothers,” circa 1962.

Library Exhibit Celebrates TV Icon Dr. Joyce Brothers ’47

Stories You May Like

Alum Launches First Smithsonian Museum Dedicated to Women

Works of Art, Inside and Out: The Johnson Museum at 50

Vintage Scrapbooks Offer Fascinating Windows into Student Life

Known as the ‘mother of media psychology,’ Brothers was beloved for promoting mental health—and cheerfully lampooning herself

This story was condensed from a feature in the Cornell Chronicle.

By Jose Beduya

For five decades, American psychologist and media personality Joyce Bauer Brothers ’47 brought mental health issues into the public eye with charisma and lighthearted humor.

Popularly known as Dr. Joyce Brothers, she wrote syndicated advice columns, hosted radio and television programs, appeared in movies, and even parodied her psychologist persona on shows such as “The Simpsons.”

“Subway Stoppers” ad for NBC’s “Consult Dr. Brothers,” 1960
A 1960 ad promoting one of her shows.

Now, Brothers (who passed away in 2013) is the focus of an exhibit on campus.

Housed in Kroch Library’s Hirshland Exhibition Gallery, “Dr. Joyce Brothers, Mother of Media Psychology” features documents, photographs, and artifacts from Brothers’s personal collection, which she started donating to the library in 1987.

Dr. Joyce Brothers’ Cornell graduation portrait, 1947
Her 1947 graduation portrait.

The exhibit runs through late August 2024—so alumni returning to the Hill for Homecoming, Commencement, Reunion, or a casual visit will have the chance to see it in person.

(There’s also an online version.)

Brothers double-majored in home economics and psychology in what’s now known as the College of Human Ecology.

Her student days are well-represented in the exhibit, which includes an orientation term paper, registrar card, and graduation portraits.

Her dissertation for her doctorate in psychology at Columbia is also featured.

Stories You May Like

Alum Launches First Smithsonian Museum Dedicated to Women

Works of Art, Inside and Out: The Johnson Museum at 50

The bulk of the exhibit showcases Brothers’s work in print publishing, radio, television, and film.

It includes scripts and viewer letters for her first TV show in 1958—through the use of technology harkening back to Brothers’s 20th-century heyday.

“A living room in the center of the gallery has an old television playing a loop of Dr. Joyce Brothers’s show,” says curator Fredrika Loew ’12, MA ’16. “There’s also a bunch of rotary phones, and, when you pick them up, you’ll hear clips of her audio answering somebody’s questions on air.”

To liven up the exhibit space, Loew is encouraging visitors to dress up in ’50s or ’60s attire.

Photo from Dr. Joyce Brothers’ appearance on Saturday Night Live with Eddie Murphy, 1985
Immersing herself with Eddie Murphy on “SNL” in 1985.

“It’s supposed to be fun because that’s what Dr. Brothers was,” Loew says. “She was taking something serious like mental health and making it approachable in the comfort of your own living room.”

Loew, who is the Dr. Joyce Brothers project archivist, says she hopes the exhibit will entice researchers to explore the psychologist’s expansive multimedia collection at the library.

Dr. Joyce Brothers interviews The Beatles for the Journal American, ahead of the band’s first U.S. concert on Feb. 11, 1964
Interviewing the Beatles for the Journal American in 1964.

“Hundreds of cubic feet of material cover 1955 to 2010,” she says, “and pretty much anyone with an interest in media psychology, psychology in general, pop culture, women in media, and other topics could come and use this collection.”

Top: On the set of “Tell Me, Dr. Brothers,” circa 1962. All photos by Rare and Manuscript Collections

Published September 26, 2023


  1. Mary Hoar, Class of 1970

    I saw the exhibit last week; it was extremely well done! Congratulations to the staff who put it together.

Leave a Comment

Once your comment is approved, your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Other stories You may like