Films and Videos
Drinking Water (1945), from NLM's Public Health Film Goes to War
NLM historical films and videos are administered by the Historical Audiovisuals Program.
- About the Historical Audiovisuals Program
- Digital Collections
- Physical Collections
- How to Search the Historical Audiovisuals Collection
- How to Access and Use Films and Videos
- Crediting the U.S. National Library of Medicine
- Contact Historical Audiovisuals Program
The Historical Audiovisuals (HAV) program collects, preserves, and makes available to researchers and the public moving images and sound which document the history of medicine, biomedical research, health, and disease. The collection includes more than 7,000 cataloged films and video recordings from the early twentieth century through the present day. More than 900 titles date from before 1950. While most of the films are in English, there are important titles in German, Russian, French, and Spanish. The collection includes instructional, public health, commercial, military, documentary, and research films and is strong in the following subjects:
- Cancer research and treatment
- Clinical dentistry
- Mental health (See our Guide to Mental Health Motion Pictures)
- Military medicine
- Communicable disease
- U.S. Public Health Service titles
Digitized films are made available to the public through NLM's Digital Collections, which allows users to search full-text across catalog data and film transcripts. New films are added yearly. Digitized collections include:
- The Public Health Film Goes to War, a curated collection of World War II-era health films;
- Tropical Disease Motion Pictures, films addressing the symptoms, treatment, and impact of tropical diseases worldwide. An accompanying subject guide to these titles can be found here;
- NLM Productions, representing a selection of NLM seminars and conferences;
- Medical Movies on the Web, a curated portal including original research on selected films; and
- Coming Soon: Public Health Films 1920-1949, a selection of titles focusing on communicable diseases and other threats to public health during this 30-year period.
Nearly all of HAV’s cataloged titles are available for viewing in either videotape or DVD format (see How to Access and Use Films and Videos, below). Some can be digitized on demand (see Digital Preview of Selected Films, below).
Selected films of interest include the following:
- Forgotten Frontier (1931) shows footage of traveling nurses in the Appalachian Mountains, delivering babies and providing routine and emergency care.
- Time Out (1947) is one of several films in the collection dealing with tuberculosis. It focuses on the need for TB patients to cooperate with their doctors, and to accept sanatorium care for as long as the doctor recommends.
- In The Feeling of Rejection: Its Development and Growth (1947), a 23-year-old woman named Margaret has physical disorders with no clear cause. A psychiatrist, probing her past, shows her the root of her troubles--childhood overprotection and discouragement of efforts to express herself, resulting in a crippling fear of failure and a complete inability to assert herself.
- In the animated You can be Safe from X-rays (1952), Ike Isodope, an excellent X-ray technician who never burned out an X-ray tube before its time, harms himself every day through failure to protect himself properly from exposure.
- From Ten to Twelve, produced in the late 1950s, examines the range of behaviors, interests, and physical and psychological development amongst boys and girls in the 10 to 12-year age range.
- For Children Because We Care (1965) features Dr. Benjamin Spock discussing community water fluoridation--its safety, low cost, and effectiveness in reducing dental caries.
Search for films, videos, and audio recordings in the NLM catalog using LocatorPlus. It is often helpful to use the “Set Limits Before Searching” option in the lower right corner to limit items to motion pictures, videorecordings, and/or sound recordings at the start of your search.
View Films Onsite
Visit the History of Medicine Reading Room and request films and videos through the library catalog [LocatorPlus]. View them in the reading room Monday through Friday 8:30 pm – 5:00 pm, except on federal holidays.
Borrow Viewing Copies
Patrons may not borrow films directly from NLM, but may request a viewing copy via interlibrary loan through approved repositories. For more see information see Interlibrary Loan Fact Sheet.
Duplicate and Purchase Copies
Films and videos may be duplicated if they are determined to be in the public domain, or if the patron obtains permission from the copyright holder. Useful information on copyright is available from the Copyright Office at the Library of Congress and from this guide to Copyright Term and the Public Domain, updated annually. The patron is responsible for carrying out this research, submitting the necessary forms, and making arrangements directly with approved vendors who specialize in film and video duplication. For all forms and details, please see the information sheets below.
- Historical Audiovisuals Program: Copying Procedures (PDF)
- Historical Audiovisuals Program: Restriction Notice (PDF)
- Historical Audiovisuals Program: User Agreement (PDF)
- Historical Audiovisuals Duplication: Vendor Information (PDF)
In some cases, it is possible for HAV staff to digitize an appraisal copy of a title so that a patron may view content before making selections for the duplication process. Please contact Sarah Eilers, Acting Manager of the Historical Audiovisuals Program, about this option at 301-594-9610 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
If using content obtained through NLM in any production or project, please include the phrase Courtesy of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
Acting Manager, Historical Audiovisuals
History of Medicine Division
National Library of Medicine, Bldg 38
8600 Rockville Pike
Bethesda, MD 20894