Skip Navigation Bar

NLM and Wellcome Library Establish Agreement to Make 150 Years of Biomedical Journals Freely Available Online

Representatives of the US National Library of Medicine (NLM), a component of the National Institutes of Health, and the Wellcome Trust recently signed a memorandum of understanding to work together to make thousands of complete back issues of historically-significant biomedical journals freely available online. The terms of the MOU include a donation of £750,000 ($1.2 million) to the NLM that will support coordination of the three-year project to scan original materials from NLM's collection at the article level, and Wellcome's work to secure copyright clearances and permissions for electronic deposit from publishers. NLM will undertake conservation of the original material to ensure its preservation for future generations.

NLM is authorized to accept donations in support of its mission.

Key journals charting the development of modern medicine over the last 150 years will be digitized in their entirety and made available on the National Institutes of Health life sciences repository PubMed Central (PMC) and its European counterpart, Europe PMC. The project builds on the Medical Journal Backfiles Digitization Project (2004-2010) and will contribute substantially to the current PMC archive of over 3 million articles from medical journals.

Part of the project will concentrate on mental health journals, supporting a major archive digitization program also being undertaken by the Wellcome Trust. Journals to be digitized include Mental Health, Mental Hygiene, and the Journal of Psychological Medicine and Mental Pathology. Other journals have been selected for their general relevance, such as the Indian Medical Gazette, the British and Foreign Medico-Chirurgical Review and the Transactions of the Epidemiology Society of London.

Donald A.B. Lindberg, Director of the NLM, said "This is a wonderful step forward in our continuing partnership with the Wellcome Trust to preserve and make freely available important biomedical literature for research, education, and learning. It is an example of a truly useful collaboration, and NLM is grateful to the Wellcome for its generosity."

Simon Chaplin, Head of the Wellcome Library, and Jeffrey S. Reznick, Chief of the NLM's History of Medicine Division worked together to arrange the partnership in cooperation with their respective teams.

"We are delighted to partner with NLM to make these important archives freely available to users across the world," said Chaplin. "It is crucial that digitized content can be found and used easily, and PubMed Central, and its European counterpart, Europe PMC, are at the top of the list for anyone searching for biomedical journals."

Reznick said: "This partnership will benefit generations of individuals who wish to learn about biomedical history, the thousands who use PMC regularly today and the many more tomorrow who will discover and use its rich content to study the past for the benefit of the present and the future."

In addition to images and searchable text, NLM will also create article-level citations for PubMed. Digitization is expected to start in late 2014 and to be completed by 2017. Material will be added to PMC and Europe PMC as it is digitized.

The Wellcome Library is one of the world's leading libraries of medical history, housing 2.5 million items of extraordinary range and diversity, and a growing collection of contemporary biomedical information resources relating to consumer health, popular science, biomedical ethics and the public understanding of science. The Library is situated within Wellcome Collection, the free visitor destination for the incurably curious. Located at 183 Euston Road, London, Wellcome Collection explores the connections between medicine, life and art in the past, present and future.  Wellcome Collection is growing. Exciting new galleries and spaces and expanded Library facilities will open in autumn 2014 as part of a £17.5m development.

The Wellcome Library is part of the Wellcome Trust, a global charitable foundation dedicated to achieving extraordinary improvements in human and animal health. It supports the brightest minds in biomedical research and the medical humanities. The Trust's breadth of support includes public engagement, education and the application of research to improve health. It is independent of both political and commercial interests.

Since its founding in 1836, the National Library of Medicine has played a pivotal role in translating biomedical research into practice. NLM is the world's largest medical library with nearly 22 million items in its collection. A leader in information innovation, it is the developer of electronic information services used by scientists, health professionals and the public around the world.

Wellcome Library

National Library of Medicine


Structure of muscle and bone, both diseased and healthy, as described by Dr. Southwood Smith

Structure of muscle and bone, both diseased and healthy, as described by Dr. Southwood Smith, in The British and Foreign Medical-Chirurgical Review, Volume 1, No. 1 (April, 1836), p.326-327.

Map showing the distribution of Yellow Fever in Bermuda

Map showing the distribution of Yellow Fever in Bermuda, by Dr. William R. E. Smart, in Transactions of the Epidemiological of London, Vol. 2 (1867, for the Session 1862-1863), facing page 24.

New designs for laboratory and field microscopes (detail)

New designs for laboratory and field microscopes (detail), by Dr. Henry Lawson, in The Indian Medical Gazette, Volume 3 (2 March 1868), p. 55.

The Etiology of Maladjustment — a map showing the progress of different sorts of delinquent careers

The "Etiology of Maladjustment" - a map showing the progress of different sorts of "delinquent careers," all ending with illness and disappointment, by Dr. Bernard Glueck, in Mental Hygiene, Volume 1, No. 1 (January, 1917), p.175.