Skip Navigation Bar
Skip Section Navigation

About Us: Advancing History

Embracing the Future

The History of Medicine Division (HMD) of the National Library of Medicine is advancing history through its public service and partnerships.

As stewards of a world-renowned collection that spans ten centuries we engage in forward-looking activities to provide wider and more comprehensive access to collections, reach new audiences, and to collect and preserve the historical materials of the future.

Research and Curation

NLM curators, fellows, collaborators, and guests continually study and interpret our rich historical collections. New research by staff, fellows, collaborators and others appears regularly.

Engaging New Audiences

From grade school to graduate school, online and in the community, new audiences are finding NLM historical collections relevant and reachable. Our traveling exhibitions bring NLM collections and resources into communities and classrooms around the world. You can explore a variety of topics in the history of medicine online and browse NLM collections in related digital galleries.

We are making NLM digitized collections and databases available to researchers who want to mine, analyze, and interpret data using new research tools and methodologies, such as those of the digital humanities. We actively engage in partnerships and NEH funded workshops to increase and support new forms of data-driven historical research in digitized materials and databases.

The NLM Michael E. DeBakey Fellowship in the History of Medicine, established in 2016 and supported by a generous gift from The DeBakey Medical Foundation, supports research in the historical collections of the National Library of Medicine.

Increasing Access

We are methodically digitizing our vast physical collections, and making them available online, through a variety of programs and partnerships. Discover our holdings via NLM Digital Collections and Profiles in Science.

Learn about our work in cooperation with the Wellcome Trust to make more historical medical journals available in PubMed Central (PMC).

And read about our exhibition loans of rare books and other materials to institutions like the Smithsonian Institution, the National Building Museum and The Cloisters at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Preserving Unique Medical Heritage

As a national library, NLM holds in the public trust unique items spanning ten centuries and originating from nearly every part of the globe. These items tell stories of the people, places, and ideas that inform the history of human health and disease. The collection encompasses a variety of physical and digital formats, each with their own preservation challenges.

NLM conservation staff provide assessments, stabilization, and treatment of physical collections for loan, display, digitization, and other uses. The conservation staff conduct new, collaborative research and develop protective housing and storage for rare and unique documents.

At the same time, NLM is building capacity to acquire, preserve, and provide access to diverse digital formats, on the web and elsewhere, which illuminate health care in the 21st century. We are partners with the National Digital Stewardship Alliance, a consortium of organizations committed to the long-term preservation of digital information.

Staff Publications by Date

Open All