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Films and Videos

About the Historical Audiovisuals Program

The Historical Audiovisuals (HAV) program collects, preserves, and makes available to researchers and the public moving images and sound which document the history of medicine, biomedical research, health, and disease. The collection includes more than 8,000 cataloged films and video recordings from the early twentieth century through the present day. More than 900 titles date from before 1950. While most of the films are in English, there are important titles in German, Russian, French, and Spanish. The collection includes instructional, public health, commercial, military, documentary, and research films and is strong in the following subjects:

Digital Collections

New films are added monthly to our moving image Digital Collections; there are currently more than 200 online.

Angry Boy (1951)

Physical Collections

Nearly all of HAV’s cataloged titles are available for viewing in either videotape or DVD format (see How to Access and Use Films and Videos, below). Some can be digitized on demand (see Digital Preview of Selected Films, below).

Selected films of interest include the following:

A nurse from the Frontier Nursing Service bends over to wash her hands in a basin before ministering to a woman and her child on the front porch of a cabin in Appalachia. Two other children sit at the woman's feet.

Forgotten Frontier (1931) shows footage of traveling nurses in the Appalachian Mountains, delivering babies and providing routine and emergency care.


A man sits in a chair writing on a pad of paper. Near him is a dark-haired woman lying on a gurney-like structure. The head of the gurney is elevated and the woman's head and upper body rest on a pillow.

In The Feeling of Rejection: Its Development and Growth (1947), a 23-year-old woman named Margaret has physical disorders with no clear cause. A psychiatrist, probing her past, shows her the root of her troubles--childhood overprotection and discouragement of efforts to express herself, resulting in a crippling fear of failure and a complete inability to assert herself.


A white road sign hung from metal bars reads Pinedale Sanatorium. Underneath it another sign in black with white letters reads Sanatorium and indicates with a white arrow which direction auto traffic should turn.

Time Out (1947) is one of several films in the collection dealing with tuberculosis. It focuses on the need for TB patients to cooperate with their doctors, and to accept sanatorium care for as long as the doctor recommends.


An animated male character wearing a white lab coat and a tie steps out of a van, the side of which reads Free Chest X-Ray Here. The man is smiling broadly.

In the animated You can be Safe from X-rays (1952), Ike Isodope, an excellent X-ray technician who never burned out an X-ray tube before its time, harms himself every day through failure to protect himself properly from exposure.


A notebook page is open and girl's hand writes on the page. Along the top is written Don't tell untruths. Beneath that: Don't say you saw things you didn't. Beneath that: Wash your mouth out with soap.

From Ten to Twelve, produced in the late 1950s, examines the range of behaviors, interests, and physical and psychological development amongst boys and girls in the 10 to 12-year age range.


A smiling Dr. Benjamin Spock holds two young children on his lap, while a third child stands to his left.

For Children Because We Care (1965) features Dr. Benjamin Spock discussing community water fluoridation--its safety, low cost, and effectiveness in reducing dental caries.

How to Search the Historical Audiovisuals Collection

Search for films, videos, and audio recordings in the NLM catalog using LocatorPlus. It is often helpful to use the “Set Limits Before Searching” option in the lower right corner to limit items to motion pictures, videorecordings, and/or sound recordings at the start of your search.

How to Access and Use Films and Videos

View Films Onsite

Visit the History of Medicine Reading Room and request films and videos through the library catalog [LocatorPlus]. View them in the reading room Monday through Friday 8:30 pm – 5:00 pm, except on federal holidays.

Borrow Viewing Copies

Patrons may not borrow films directly from NLM, but may request a viewing copy via interlibrary loan through approved repositories. For more see information see Interlibrary Loan Fact Sheet.

Duplicate and Purchase Copies

Films and videos may be duplicated if they are determined to be in the public domain, or if the patron obtains permission from the copyright holder. Useful information on copyright is available from the Copyright Office at the Library of Congress and from this guide to Copyright Term and the Public Domain, updated annually. The patron is responsible for carrying out this research, submitting the necessary forms, and making arrangements directly with approved vendors who specialize in film and video duplication. For all forms and details, please see the information sheets below.

Digital Preview of Selected Films

In some cases, it is possible for HAV staff to digitize an appraisal copy of a title so that a patron may view content before making selections for the duplication process. Please contact Sarah Eilers, Manager of the Historical Audiovisuals Program, about this option at 301-594-9610 or eilerss@mail.nih.gov.

Crediting the U.S. National Library of Medicine

If using content obtained through NLM in any production or project, please include the phrase Courtesy of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Contact the Historical Audiovisuals Program

Sarah Eilers
Manager, Historical Audiovisuals
History of Medicine Division
National Library of Medicine, Bldg 38
8600 Rockville Pike
Bethesda, MD 20894
301-594-9610
Fax: 301-402-7034
eilerss@mail.nih.gov