The William Woodward Jr. Nursery School was founded in 1961, through a memorial gift from The Woodward Charitable Foundation, to serve children of the House Staff of the New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center. It gradually expanded to include children of families from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, Hospital for Special Surgery, Rockefeller University and the neighborhood community.

Mrs. William Woodward made her generous endowment in 1960 to honor her late son William Woodward, Jr. New York Hospital agreed to provide a permanent home for the school.

The school is chartered by the Board of Regents of the University of the State of New York, licensed by the New York City Department of Health, and is a member of The Independent Schools Admissions Association of Greater New York (ISAAGNY).