The NLM historical collection of more than 600,000 printed works includes pre-1914 books and serials, thousands of pamphlets and dissertations, and pre-1871 journals. Material in the collection covers every area of the history of medicine and the health sciences in the United States and Europe, and substantial collections of Latin American and Asian publications. The journal collection includes bound and unbound medical journals dating from the 17th century through 1870. Additionally NLM holds over 300 Persian, Arabic, and Turkish manuscripts, dating from 1094 and a collection of Western manuscripts from the 13th to the 17th century.
Books Published before 1914
The collection includes over 580 incunabula (books printed before 1501), some 57,000 16th-18th century books, and 95,000 items published between 1801 and 1913. Nearly every European language and many Asian languages are represented. The book collection includes monographs, serials, pamphlets, medical school dissertations and catalogs, hospital, health department and other government reports.
Among works of popular and ephemeral interest are home health guides, pharmaceutical almanacs, patent medicine catalogs, medical equipment catalogs, personal narratives, first-hand accounts, broadsides, pharmacopoeias, illustrated herbals, and botanical name indexes (materia medica).
Medical history landmarks in the collection include Andreas Vesalius’ De humani corporis fabrica (1543), William Harvey’s Exercitatio anatomica de motu cordis (1628), William Withering’s An Account of the Foxglove (1785), and Edward Jenner’s An Inquiry into the Causes and Effects of the Variolae Vaccinae (1798), as well as comprehensive holdings of the works of major medical figures such as Hippocrates, Galen, Paracelsus, Boerhaave, and Osler.
History of Medicine Reading Room Collection
The History of Medicine Reading Room collection includes the major bibliographic resources necessary for historical research, as well as standard works in the history of medicine. The collection includes general histories of medicine, histories of diseases, medical directories, encyclopedias, biographies and collective biographies, and reprints of medical classics. Reference sources, such as directories, handbooks, regulations, abstract tools, statistical sources, and prepared bibliographies, are used by patrons and by staff to answer reference questions.