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New Website and Digital Project at NLM: "Cholera Online: A Modern Pandemic in Texts and Images"

The History of Medicine Division (HMD) of the National Library of Medicine is pleased to announce the launch of a new website featuring historical literature on cholera: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/exhibition/cholera/index.html.

Cholera is an acute, painful, and often fatal disease which ravaged populations all over the world in several pandemics during the 19th century. News of its spread and impending approach often sent panic into entire nations, and health professionals were largely at a loss as to how to treat or prevent it until modern epidemiological and laboratory techniques were developed later in the century.

The National Library of Medicine has so far scanned over 100 English language pamphlets dating from 1817 to 1890 dealing with the cholera pandemics of that period. The selection of cholera was in part inspired by the 315-page "Bibliography of Cholera" compiled by John Shaw Billings in 1875 for the report by John M. Woodworth's Cholera Epidemic of 1873 in the United States. This extensive bibliography by Billings meant to include all published monographs and journal articles "which relate mainly or entirely to cholera." The bibliography was a precursor, perhaps a "pilot project," to the great Index Catalogue of the Library of the Surgeon General's Office, which began coming out in 1880.

Altogether, the Library plans to scan nearly 400 English language items on cholera from its collections, making it one of the most comprehensive online collections of cholera literature available anywhere.

For more information, please contact Michael North, Head, Rare Books and Early Manuscripts, northm@mail.nih.gov or 301-496-9204.

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