Archives and Modern Manuscripts Program
Offsite Collections Retrieval Notice
Retrieval of Modern Manuscript collections that are held off-site will be limited to once per month. The collections involved are marked by the indication "Location: HMD Collection-Offsite" in the Holdings View in LocatorPlus.
To obtain access to materials in collections held off-site, please place an order with the History of Medicine Archives and Modern Manuscripts staff by the last Thursday of the month. The materials will be available through the HMD reading room on the first Monday of the month.
For further information, please contact the History of Medicine Division at email@example.com or 301-402-8878.
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- Contact Archives and Modern Manuscripts
The NLM Archives and Modern Manuscripts Program oversees the collection and administration of archives and modern manuscripts that relate to the history of medicine. The collections include approximately 18,000 linear feet of material dating from the 17th century to the present. The collections are made up of organizational records and personal papers, oral histories, diaries, lecture notes, pharmacopoeias, herbals, treatises, and dissertations. Topics include the history of military medicine, biomedical science, and public health and disease. Also included are the internal records of NLM and other organizations relating to medical librarianship and medical informatics.
The Archives and Modern Manuscripts Program is administered by the NLM History of Medicine Division (HMD). The program has four distinct areas of emphasis.
The Archives and Modern Manuscripts Collection consists of organizational records and personal papers documenting medical practitioners, biomedical scientists, health policy planners, and medical societies, predominantly American, from ca. 1850 to the present. Strengths of the collection include military medicine, public health and health policy, mental health, child development, and molecular biology. Significant collections include personal papers of former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, the Group Health Association archives, and the papers of Nobel Prize-winning scientists, particularly those connected with NIH.
Bound and folio manuscripts are chiefly 18th century materials consisting of lecture notes, recipe books, hospital logs, and other discrete items, often with European or eastern U.S. provenance. These manuscripts supplement the Library’s medieval manuscripts and book collections.
Oral history collections, chiefly from the 1970s to the present, consist of interviews with physicians, scientists, health policy administrators, and health-business executives.
Medical librarianship and informatics collections include institutional archives, the papers of NLM Directors, including NLM founder John Shaw Billings, and records and oral histories of the Medical Library Association (MLA).
The NLM manuscripts collection began in the 19th century as a collection of incidental manuscript items, chiefly relating to American medicine and public health. By the middle of the 20th century, the collection had grown to include a significant number of Western and Islamic medical manuscripts. A distinct modern manuscripts collection was established in 1962. By 1965 the Library had hired its first Curator of Modern Manuscripts and began actively soliciting donations of personal papers and society records. By 1976 holdings included 236 processed collections, which grew to over a thousand collections by 1999, comprising about 6,000 linear feet of cataloged materials.
LocatorPlus Search TipsQuick limits:
- Choose "HMD Collection" keyword anywhere search;
- Use " " to search for exact phrases
example: "yellow fever"
- Click "Limit" button screen bottom right
- Choose "Item Type" as manuscript or mixed material
- Choose "Location" as HMD Collection
- Click "Set Limits"
- Enter search terms
Request material onsite from the Archives and Modern Manuscripts Collection through the Library catalog LocatorPlus. Items are retrieved on the hour and are consulted in the History of Medicine Reading Room.
Original material from the Archives and Modern Manuscripts Collection cannot be borrowed through interlibrary loan. Limited photocopying is possible.
Collections may not be copied in their entirety. The Curator reserves the right to make decisions regarding the appropriateness of any individual request, based on an item's condition or the amount of copying requested.
To request a photocopy, complete and submit by mail or in person a Manuscripts Photocopy Order form. History of Medicine Staff performs all copying for a fee of 20¢ per page. Patrons may choose to pick up completed photocopy orders at the History of Medicine Reading Room or have them mailed free of charge.
Some collections, because of their size, copyright, and use restrictions, may not be copied at all. For more information about restrictions, contact the Curator.
Historical Collection Copyright Information applies to photocopy requests.
The Library has arrangements in place with an approved photographer, who, at the discretion of the History of Medicine Conservation Librarian, performs onsite photography of material from historical collections. The photographer visits History of Medicine at least once a month. Patrons make billing and shipping arrangements directly with the photographer.
Before requesting photographic services, read the following forms:
- Photographic Services: Information and Instructions
- Photography Services: Price List
- Photographic Services: Request Form
Patrons must complete this form (a separate form for each request), sign, and return via mail or in person.
- Historical Collections Copyright Information applies to photographic reproduction requests.
Audio and video reproduction
We prefer that patrons listen and view audiovisual materials in the History of Medicine Reading Room. In special circumstances, copying of manuscript collection audiovisual materials is allowed. Patrons make billing and shipping arrangements directly with an approved audio or film reproduction company.
The following forms must be read, signed and returned via mail for EACH ITEM requested:
John P. Rees, Archivist and Digital Resources Manager
Phone: (301) 496-8953
Fax: (301) 402-7034
James Labosier, Associate Curator
Phone: (301) 402-8819
Fax: (301) 402-7034
Mail forms to:
James Labosier, Associate Curator
Archives and Modern Manuscripts Collection
History of Medicine Division, Bldg. 38, Rm. 1E-21
National Library of Medicine
8600 Rockville Pike
Bethesda, MD 20894