Skip Navigation Bar

Take a look and find something new. Explore this selection of remarkable materials and the exhibitions that feature them.
Follow where your curiosity leads you!

  • Drawing of a cross-section of a bone

    Illustration of the Infection of a Bullet Wound, 1870: Life and Limb: The Toll of the American Civil War Life and Limb:

    The German born, American artist Robert Kohler (1850-1917) depicts the bone infection that resulted from a gunshot fracture of the femur suffered by American Civil War veteran David Saffern. The osteomyelitis (acute or chronic bone infection) is indicated by the mottled texture of the marrow and green and black hues in this representation of a chromolithograph published in a case study of Saffern's injury in the U.S. Sanitary Commission's Surgical Memoirs of the War of the Rebellion vol. 1 1870-1871. To learn more about veterans of the American Civil War, visit the online exhibition Life and Limb: The toll of the American Civil War.

  • Front page of a newspaper, titled: The Cripple, with text reading:  United States General Hospitals, Alexandria, Virgina

    The Cripple, 1864: Life and Limb: The Toll of the American Civil War Life and Limb:

    The men who enlisted to serve during the American Civil War, many of whom were as young as 18, were often unprepared for the ruthless realities of war. They were usually marshaled for service without training, and often stationed miles from where they had grown up. The US General Hospital in Alexandria, Virginia published The Cripple, one of six small hospital newspapers printed in the Washington, DC area during the Civil War period. The newspapers included news, poetry, and jokes, among other things, and served as an amusement and morale-builder for sick and wounded soldiers. To learn more about the life of Civil War veterans, visit the online exhibition Life and Limb: The toll of the American Civil War.

  • Chroma-lithograph of a wounded soldier in bed showing his amputated leg

    Private George W. Lemon, 1867: Life and Limb: The Toll of the American Civil War Life and Limb:

    On May 5, 1864, Private George W. Lemon was shot in the leg at the battle of the Wilderness. Following his capture by Confederate soldiers, Private Lemon did not receive treatment for his wounds until freed by Union forces a week later. The soldier suffered repeated infections and poor health as a result of his injuries and subsequent treatment until Surgeon Edwin Bentley amputated the limb. Private Lemon made a full recovery and was fitted with an artificial leg in 1868. This representation of the chromolithograph of Private Lemon appears in Drawings, Photographs and Lithographs Illustrating the Histories of Seven Survivors of the Operation of Amputation at the Hipjoint, During the War of the Rebellion, Together with Abstracts of these Seven Successful Cases, 1867 by George A. Otis. To learn more about this story, visit the online exhibition Life and Limb: The toll of the American Civil War.

  • A photograph of a woman next to a magazine cover

    Ma Kiley Works the Line, 2001: The Once and Future Web: Worlds Woven by Telegraph and Internet The Once and Future Web:

    In 1950, Railroad Magazine published a four-part series entitled "The Bug and I," an autobiographical account of Mattie Collins Brite, known as "Ma Kiley." Born in 1880, in Atacosa County, Texas, Ma Kiley worked as a telegraph operator for 40 years in remote locales that ranged from northern Mexico to Saskatchewan, Canada. Featured in the exhibition The Once and Future Web: Worlds Woven by the Telegraph and Internet, "The Bug and I" told the story of Ma Kiley's life in telegraphy-her joys and hardships as a "boomer."

  • Photograph of a man with white hair and a long white beard

    Samuel F. B. Morse: In His Own Words, 2001 : The Once and Future Web: Worlds Woven by Telegraph and Internet The Once and Future Web:

    The American painter and inventor Samuel F. B. Morse (1791-1872) is credited with designing and developing the first electromagnetic telegraph system. Morse conceived the idea for a telegraph in 1832, but faced many challenges before he was able to transmit his first message in 1844. This audio recording featured in the exhibition The Once and Future Web: Worlds Woven by the Telegraph and Internet captures Morse's words, read from various letters and diaries describing his journey.

  • Circular diagram with a bird image in the center...

    Star Compass Illustration: A Voyage to Health A Voyage to Health

    The Hawaiian Star Compass was developed by C. Nainoa Thompson, Native Hawaiian master navigator, in order to help train a new generation of traditional voyagers. The star compass represents the pilot’s 360 degree view of the ocean horizon. The compass marks the cardinal points, divides the horizon into several directions, and identifies the rising locations of stars—“the basic mental construct for navigation.” The Hawaiian names on the compass reflect the navigator’s mastery of other elements of the environment, such as winds and birds of the region. Select and examine one of the elements marked on the compass. And consider what they reveal about the native Hawaiian perspectives. To learn more about this image, visit the online exhibition A Voyage to Health.

  • Chromolithograph of a cadaver

    Cadaver buried February 7, 1828, and exhumed April 24, 1828, 1831: Visible Proofs: Forensic Views of the Body Visible Proofs:

    French artist Jacques Hippolyte van der Burch (1786-1856) represented the effects of putrefactive changes produced in cadavers when exposed to earth, water, air, and fumigation, in a series of chromolithographs that appear in the 1831 treatise on the subject of exhumation and decomposition by Mathieu J. B. Orfila, MD (1787-1853) and Octave Lesueur, MD (1802-1860) titled Traité des exhumations juridiques. [Treatise on legal exhumations, and considerations on the physical transformations undergone by cadavers rotting in the earth, in water, in toilets and in manure], Paris, 1831. To learn more about the history of forensic science, visit the online exhibition Visible Proofs: Forensic Views of the Body.

  • Portrait of Mathieu Orfila

    Mathieu Joseph Bonaventure Orfila, ca. 1835: Visible Proofs: Forensic Views of the Body Visible Proofs:

    Spanish born, French chemist Mathieu Joseph Bonaventure Orfila, MD (1787-1853) was the first 19th-century exponent of forensic medicine, and is often called the "Father of Toxicology." Dr. Orfila worked to make chemical analysis a routine part of forensic investigation. His work included studies of asphyxiation, the decomposition of bodies, and exhumation. This representation of a lithograph portrait shows a decorated and richly adorned Dr. Orphila.To learn more about the history of forensic science, visit the online exhibition Visible Proofs: Forensic Views of the Body.

  • Still frame from a video of a postmortem examination

    Postmortem dissection, 1978: Visible Proofs: Forensic Views of the Body Visible Proofs:

    ALERT: Some people may find images from postmortem dissections disturbing. Viewer discretion advised. Postmortem dissection, or autopsy, is the core practice of forensic medicine and was among the first scientific methods developed to be used in the investigation of violent or suspicious death. The postmortem examiner surveys the cadaver's surface, opens up the figure with surgical instruments, removes organs and body parts for microscopic inspection and toxicological analysis, and makes a report that attempts to reconstruct the cause, manner, and mechanism of death. These clips from training film show some of the procedures of postmortem examination. To learn more about the history of forensic science, visit the online exhibition Visible Proofs: Forensic Views of the Body.

  • Photograph of a reconstructed skull

    Clyde Snow: Bearing Witness, 2008: Visible Proofs: Forensic Views of the Body Visible Proofs:

    In 1984, after the fall of the military junta in Argentina, the American Academy for the Advancement of Science asked American forensic anthropologist Clyde Snow, PhD (b. 1928) to travel to the country to help the newly elected democratic government find out what happened to the thousands of the "disappeared" Argentinean citizens kidnapped and presumed murdered by the military dictatorship. In Argentina, Dr. Snow trained a group of volunteer anthropology and medical university students in forensic anthropology. Together they excavated hundreds of clandestine mass graves. The work was painstaking and dangerous as the disposed junta could regain power and retaliate against the investigators. Nevertheless, Dr. Snow and his team of students became instrumental in providing evidence that led to the successful prosecution of six members of the junta for their crimes. These students went on to found the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team (in Spanish, Equipo Argentino de Anthropologia Forense or EAAF), a non-governmental organization dedicated to using forensic science to investigate human rights abuses. In this series of short films produced by the National Library of Medicine for the exhibition Visible Proofs: Forensic Views of the Body, Dr. Snow talks about forensic anthropology and human rights.

  • A True Relation of a Barbarous Bloody Murther, Committed by Philip Standsfield upon the Perfon of Sir James Standsfield his Father. Giving An account of the many inhuman practices and...

    A True Relation of a Barbarous Bloody Murther, ca. 1688: Visible Proofs: Forensic Views of the Body Visible Proofs:

    This sensational pamphlet reports on a murder investigation that used a forensic test based on an ancient belief: that the corpse of a victim will bleed if touched by the murderer. To learn more about the history of forensic science, visit the online exhibition Visible Proofs: Forensic Views of the Body.

  • Drawing of a woman writing on a notepad by the window

    "The Yellow Wall-Paper," 1892: The Literature of Prescription: Charlotte Perkins Gilman and "The Yellow Wall-Paper" The Literature of Prescription:

    American activist, writer, and artist Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1860-1935) wrote a story of a woman driven mad by the extreme treatment prescribed by her doctor for her depression, during the summer of 1890. More than a year later, The New England Magazine published Gilman's "The Yellow Wall-Paper." Unusual for the time, readers were both intrigued and disturbed by the story. In a letter to the editor, a respondent signing off only as "M. D." described the piece as sensational and morbidly fascinating, and questioned if such literature should even be permitted in print. The National Library of Medicine has a copy of "The Yellow Wall-Paper," bound with a complete volume of the magazine (New Series, Vol. 5, Old Series, Vol. 11, September 1891-February 1892). To read this story, visit the online exhibition The Literature of Prescription: Charlotte Perkins Gilman and "The Yellow Wall-Paper."

  • Image of a human head represented as a series of connected rooms inside the skull

    Der Mensch als Industriepalast (Man as Industrial Palace), 1926: Dream Anatomy Dream Anatomy

    In this representation of a chromolithograph, German artist Fritz Kahn (1888-1968) depicts a modernist visualization of the human digestive and respiratory systems, as an "industrial palace" or chemical plant. Kahn conceived of Der Mensch als Industriepalast in a period when the German chemical industry was the world's most advanced. To learn more about the history of anatomical representations, visit Dream Anatomy.

  • Historical photograph of a woman

    Elizabeth Blackwell, ca. 1875: Changing the Face of Medicine: Celebrating America's Women Physicians Changing the Face of Medicine:

    Elizabeth Blackwell (1821-1910), the first woman in America to receive a medical degree, said she decided to pursue medical training after a close friend who was dying suggested she would have been spared her worst suffering if her physician had been a woman. Dr. Blackwell overcame significant social and financial obstacles to pursue her career and, in 1847, Geneva Medical College accepted her application to study medicine. Dr. Blackwell received her degree on January 23, 1849. To learn more about Elizabeth Blackwell and the history of women in medicine, visit the online exhibition Changing the Face of Medicine: Celebrating America's Women Physicians.

  • Circulation Station

    Circulation Station, 2003: Changing the Face of Medicine: Celebrating America's Women Physicians Changing the Face of Medicine:

    The online exhibition Changing the Face of Medicine: Celebrating America's Women Physicians includes activities designed to appeal to users of all ages. Visit the "Circulation Station," which features a guided journey of a red blood cell through the body, and highlights the work of Helen Brooke Taussig, MD, a doctor who helped infants with a certain type of heart defect.

  • Opthalmoscope

    The Doctor is In, 2003: Changing the Face of Medicine: Celebrating America's Women Physicians Changing the Face of Medicine:

    The online exhibition Changing the Face of Medicine: Celebrating America's Women Physicians includes activities designed to appeal to users of all ages. "The Doctor Is In" explores some of the tools that doctors use, and what they might see and hear during patient examinations. Challenge yourself and test your own observation skills with this activity and learn about the work of Virginia Apgar, MD, a doctor who transformed the way babies are examined at birth.

  • Determine the Risk

    Sickle Cell Anemia, 2003: Changing the Face of Medicine: Celebrating America's Women Physicians Changing the Face of Medicine:

    The online exhibition Changing the Face of Medicine: Celebrating America's Women Physicians includes activities designed to appeal to users of all ages. "Sickle Cell Anemia" encourages players to find out about this hereditary disease that affects the blood, and to determine the risks for passing the condition to the next generation. Players can also learn about the work of Marilyn Hughes Gaston, MD, a doctor who made the study of this disease a focus of her professional life.

  • A Closer Look at Chromosomes

    A Closer Look at Chromosomes, 2003: Changing the Face of Medicine: Celebrating America's Women Physicians Changing the Face of Medicine:

    The online exhibition Changing the Face of Medicine: Celebrating America's Women Physicians includes activities designed to appeal to users of all ages. "A Closer Look at Chromosomes" allows players to zoom in on a cell to learn how cells reproduce. Players can find out about a specific kind of mistake in cell reproduction called translocation, and test their ability to spot chromosomes with this type of error. The activity also looks at the work of Janet Rowley, MD, a doctor who did groundbreaking work on translocation.

  • Historical photograph of a woman in religious clothing

    Susie King Taylor, 1902: Binding Wounds, Pushing Boundaries: African Americans in Civil War Medicine Binding Wounds, Pushing Boundaries:

    Susie King Taylor's memoir, Reminiscences of My Life in Camp with the 33rd United States Colored Troops Late 1st S.C. Volunteers, is the only known published recollection of the experiences of an African American nurse during the American Civil War. In a letter to Taylor, reproduced in her book, Lt. Colonel Trowbridge, commander of the regiment, praises Taylor's "unselfish devotion and service through more than three long years of war in which the 33d Regiment bore a conspicuous part in the great conflict for human liberty and the restoration of the Union." To learn more about Susie King Taylor, visit the online exhibition Binding Wounds, Pushing Boundaries: African Americans in Civil War Medicine

  • Dr. Victoria Cargill

    Victoria Cargill, MD—Making a Difference, 2008: Against the Odds: Making a Difference in Global Health Against the Odds:

    As director of Minority Research and Clinical Studies at the Office of AIDS Research at National Institutes of Health, Dr. Victoria Cargill works to ensure the representation of minorities in clinical trials, and to increase the number of minority researchers in the field. In this brief interview segment produced by the National Library of Medicine for the exhibition Against the Odds: Making a Difference in Global Health, Dr. Cargill invites others to get involved in HIV/AIDS issues.

  • Dr. Ying Lowrey

    Ying Lowrey, PhD, 2008: Against the Odds: Making a Difference in Global Health Against the Odds:

    In 2008, Ying Lowery, PhD was a professor and senior economist living in the United States. Earlier in her life, however, she served as a community health care provider in rural China, what would become known as "barefoot doctor." In this brief interview segment produced by the National Library of Medicine for the exhibition Against the Odds: Making a Difference in Global Health, Dr. Lowrey recalls one case: "I held this baby for the whole night and while I read the book to try to find out exactly what the problem was and constantly gave her water and gave some medicine. And the next morning this baby opened up her eyes and then she looked at me."

  • Drawing of woman with white blouse and straw hat

    Go to the Countryside to serve the 500 Million Peasants, 1965: Against the Odds: Making a Difference in Global Health Against the Odds:

    In June 1965, the chairman of the Communist Party, Mao Zedong, called for young women and men to train and serve as community health care workers or "barefoot doctors" to those in need. Millions of peasants were living in the countryside far from fully-equipped medical facilities and the nearest health care center could be a three-day-walk away. These young medical workers would spend half of the day farming, and the rest of the time providing health care to those in the area. By the 1970s, over one million people had been trained. Although the delivery of medicine has changed since then, the low cost and wide distribution of health care made possible by the "barefoot doctors" has never been matched. To learn more about "barefoot doctors, visit the online exhibition Against the Odds: Making a Difference in Global Health.

  • Dr. Jack Geiger

    Jack Geiger: Campaigning for Change, 2008 : Against the Odds: Making a Difference in Global Health Against the Odds:

    Jack Geiger, MD, M.Sci.Hyg. is a well-respected physician and activist who has devoted most of his professional career to health care, human rights, and efforts to alleviate poverty. Dr. Geiger's established an innovative, community health center in Mound Bayou, Mississippi during the 1960s, whose story is featured in the exhibition Against the Odds: Making a Difference in Global Health. In this audio recording from the opening program for the exhibition, Dr. Geiger draws on a lifetime of experiences to encourage an audience of high school students that they can make a difference in their community by being an advocate for change.

  • Jeanne White-Ginder

    Jeanne White-Ginder: Speaking Out, 2008: Against the Odds: Making a Difference in Global Health Against the Odds:

    Since the loss of her son Ryan White to AIDS in 1990, Jeanne White-Ginder has become an advocate for people with HIV/AIDS. In this audio recording from the opening program for the exhibition, Against the Odds: Making a Difference in Global Health, which featured a profile of Ryan and the discrimination he faced because of his illness, Ms. White-Ginder describes to an audience of high school students how her son's journey inspired her to take action.

  • Who in Global Health, Hint, Solve, Skip

    Who's Who in Global Health, 2008: Against the Odds: Making a Difference in Global Health Against the Odds:

    The online exhibition Against the Odds Making a Difference in Global Health includes activities designed to appeal to users of all ages. Play "Who's Who in Global Health" and assemble files on some of the people featured in the exhibition. Find out about their inspiring stories as they make a difference in global health today.

  • The World of Global Health

    The World of Global Health, 2008: Against the Odds: Making a Difference in Global Health Against the Odds:

    The online exhibition Against the Odds Making a Difference in Global Health includes activities designed to appeal to users of all ages. Explore "The World of Global Health," a collection of three games that use world geography as its subject, and learn about some of the countries featured in the exhibition.

  •  Two illustrated yellow figures in motion against a red background. Text reads

    Ignorance = Fear, Silence = Death, 1989: Surviving and Thriving: AIDS, Politics and Culture Surviving and Thriving:

    Keith Haring (1958-1990) created memorable and unique art work during a career that achieved international recognition. Born in Reading, Pennsylvania, Haring moved to New York City in 1978 and enrolled in the School of Visual Arts. He began creating graffiti art in New York City subway stations in 1980 and within a year had his first solo exhibition. During a brief but intense career that spanned the 1980s, Haring’s work was featured in over 100 solo and group exhibitions. He used a primacy of line and directness of message to express universal concepts of birth, death, love, sex and war, using a primacy of line and directness of message, Haring was able to attract a wide audience and assure the accessibility and staying power of his imagery. Haring was diagnosed with AIDS in 1988, and then used his imagery to speak about his own illness and generate activism and awareness about AIDS. In 1989, he established the Keith Haring Foundation, its mandate being to provide funding and use of his works to AIDS organizations and children’s programs. Keith Haring died of AIDS related complications at the age of 31 in 1990. To learn more about Keith Haring and the history and response to HIV/AIDS, visit the online exhibition Surviving and Thriving: AIDS, Politics and Culture

  • Graphic illustrations of various micobes numerically numbered.

    Half-Hours with the Microscope: From DNA to Beer: Harnessing Nature in Medicine and Industry From DNA to Beer:

    This illustration from Half-Hours with the Microscope (1860), English naturalist Edwin Lankester’s pocket-sized microscopy guidebook, gives readers a glimpse at cells and organisms too tiny to be seen by the naked eye. Lankester enlisted the help of scientific artist, Tuffen West, to pictorialize his observations under the microscope. In this page, West shows details of plant cells (figures 1-3 and 11-15), animal cells (figures 4-10), and microorganisms like amoebas (figures 16-25). Exploration of the microscopic world helped advance scientific understanding of microbes, which enabled scientists to devise methods of using them for medical and industrial applications. To learn more, visit the online exhibition, From DNA to Beer: Harnessing Nature in Medicine and Industry.

  • Illustration of two seated people, with text:

    Advertisement for the film Marihuana, 1936: Pick Your Poison: Intoxicating Pleasures & Medical Prescriptions Pick Your Poison:

    Marihuana: the Devils Weed was a cautionary exploitation film directed and produced by Dwain Esper. A young woman named Burma (Harley Wood) attends a beach party, smokes marijuana for the first time, and has sex with her boyfriend. After the party, a now pregnant Burma goes to work for a drug dealer and eventually becomes a major dealer herself, after giving up her baby for adoption. In the 1930s, stories about drug-induced recklessness and violence in film, as well as efforts to associate the drug with Mexican immigrants, were part of a crusade against cannabis spearheaded by government officials. By the 1960s, the drug was associated with the urban poor, criminals, political radicals, and social misfits known as beatniks. To learn more, visit the online exhibition, Pick Your Poison: Intoxicating Pleasures & Medical Prescriptions.