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Collections: Prints & Photographs

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  • Images from the History of Medicine (IHM), is an online picture database of nearly 70,000 images from the National Library of Medicine (NLM) History of Medicine's Prints and Photographs Collection. IHM includes portraits, photographs, caricatures, posters, and graphic art illustrating the social and historical aspects of medicine dated from the 15th to 21st century.

    IHM is available through NLM Digital Collections.

    Newly acquired materials are continually being added to IHM. In addition, existing records are regularly reviewed and upgraded, with new records and edits made available in IHM.

    Many of the images in IHM are featured in the History of Medicine’s blog, Circulating Now. New content is posted every week.

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      Images from the History of Medicine is also available in Open-ISM, NLM’s open access biomedical image search engine from the Lister Hill National Center for Biomedical Communications (LHNCBC). Open-ISM enables search and retrieval of abstracts and images (including charts, graphs, clinical images, etc.) from open source literature and biomedical image collections.

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    • The Commons on Flickr

      A selection of public domain images from images in the History of Medicine is also available on Flickr Commons.

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  • New Accessions

    • A man examines a child's mouth outdoors.

      Patricia Gallinek, RN, Global Healing Photograph Collection

      Patricia Gallinek, RN, donated a collection of approximately 500 photographs documenting her experiences as a volunteer for organizations involved in healthcare around the world. She embarked on a career of photojournalism in 1990 after 30 years in the nursing profession. The subject matter includes physicians at work, nurses, technicians, and patients. Capturing intensely emotional scenes of despair, her images thoughtfully and respectfully evoke the sense of humanity, perseverance, and friendship that she found in the communities she visited. All images were photographed and printed by Ms. Gallinek.

      Read More on Circulating Now

    • Nurses working in a nursery.

      Charles R. Lachman Community Health Center, NYC, Photograph Album

      This original photograph album of 30 images was presented to Charles R. Lachman upon the September 20, 1966 dedication of the Community Health Center at Manhattan's Lenox Hill Hospital, bearing his name. Captioned prints provide a comprehensive visual tour of the building's construction, facilities, and equipment, with many showcasing before and after views of the improved areas. Images include the nursery, pharmacy, O.R., and waiting rooms. A majority of the images are uncredited. 11 images were taken by Irving Kaufman Studios (NYC). One image is credited to Hutchins Photography Inc. (Belmont, Mass.). Three images are credited to fine art photographer, Dianora Niccolini.

      Read More on Circulating Now

    • Nurses standing by a patients bed outdoors.

      Cornelia Mercer Nursing Photograph Album

      An original photograph album of pediatric nurse or nursing student Cornelia Mercer, capturing her time at Baltimore's Union Protestant Infirmary (operating still today as MedStar Union Memorial Hospital) ca. 1909–1910, With an emphasis on the female role in healthcare, the album contains 87 black and white photographs in various sizes including children likely afflicted with polio, in hospital beds and wheelchairs, Mercer and her colleagues, and some images of Mercer of a more personal nature.

      Read More on Circulating Now

    Unprocessed Collections

    • Surgery.

      Photographs by NIH Photographer Jerry Hecht

      This collection of over 600 photographs taken by Gerald “Jerry” Hecht, an NIH photographer from 1959 to 1987, documents NIH during a time of growth and prominence. Hecht had access to NIH surgical units and labs and so was able to capture remarkable achievements of the NIH. The subjects of Hecht's images include heart surgeries performed during the 1960s–70s, auditoriums, laboratories, and hundreds of photographs of everyday life at the NIH, from telephone operators and mechanics to nurses and patients. Mr. Hecht died on November 24, 2016, at the age of 88.

      Read More on Circulating Now

    • A woman touches another woman's hand.

      Healers of Our Age

      This collection contains black and white photographic portraits of 12 prominent figures in the history of medicine known for their commitment to the art and science of healing. This portfolio was produced for the benefit of the Oliver Wendell Holmes Endowment of the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine in Boston in a limited edition of 590. Each portfolio has been personally signed by the photographer, Yousuf Karsh. Portraits include Walter Clement Alvarez, Charles Herbert Best, Alfred Blalock, William Boyd, Thomas Stephen Cullen, Albert Einstein, Sir Alexander Fleming, Carl Gustav Jung, Helen Keller, Albert Schweitzer, George Hoyt Whipple, and Paul Dudley White.

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    • A page of stamps.

      The Adolf Schwartz Medical Stamp Collection

      The Adolf W. Schwartz medical stamp collection consists of approximately 700,000 stamps with medical themes. The stamps are organized in 109 four-inch binders, in chronological order, and are the results of 60 years of collecting by Dr. Schwartz. Subjects on the stamps include doctors, nurses, military medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine, folk and mythical medicine, plants and herbs, inventors of surgical instruments, doctors serving in Congress, places named for physicians, and more. The stamps are cancelled, non-cancelled, commemorative, in postcard form, first-day issue, proofs, tax stamps, tobacco stamps, postal cancellations, and legal tender. Stamps feature Elisabeth Blackwell, Marie Curie, Wilhelm Roentgen, and Florence Nightingale, among thousands of others. The collection includes a series on the Nobel Prizes from the Federated States of Micronesia, as well as a series of special oversized cigar bands from the Canary Islands, featuring Nobel Prize winners in Medicine of Physiology for the years 1901–1970, including Joshua Lederberg, James Watson, Francis Crick, and Marshall Nirenberg. The collection also includes 16 books that Dr. Schwartz compiled containing biographical and historical information about the stamps and their subjects.

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    • Red cross nurses treat a wounded soldier in a camp.

      Pictures of Nursing

      The postcard is a fleeting and widespread art form influenced by popular ideas about social and cultural life in addition to fashions in visual style. Nurses and nursing have been the frequent subjects of postcards...

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    • Domestic scenes.

      Family Planning

      As one of the most populous countries in the world, China saw the need to have a strong family planning policy. The country launched 3 family planning campaigns.

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    • A nurse looks at an infant in a woman's lap.

      Consumptive Disease

      Tuberculosis was one of the major epidemic diseases in 20th-century China, along with smallpox, malaria, cholera, schistosomiasis, and other epidemics. Organized efforts to fight the disease began in 1933.

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    • A woman with a paper and a jar, drawings of healthy activities in the background.

      Health For The People

      In the 20th century, under both Nationalist and Communist governments, China supported public health measures as a way to strengthen the country.

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    • A poster showing a person in a mask spraying against mosquitos.

      Chinese Anti-Malaria Posters

      Malaria was historically a major threat to the health of the Chinese people. In 1950, over 30 million Chinese people suffered from malaria.

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    • A person in scrubs and a mask holds their fist in the air.

      Chinese Public Health Posters

      The National Library of Medicine has recently acquired a large collection of Chinese Public Health materials, about seven thousand items produced from early 20th century to the year of SARS.

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    • AIDS information poster with a crowd of people holding hands.

      Visual Culture and Public Health Posters

      Posters flourished as an art form in Europe and the United States in the late-nineteenth century as advances in printing technologies allowed for mass circulation. In the 1860s, French artists ushered in a new age for the illustrated poster.

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    Other Visual Collections

    • Islamic Medical Manuscripts

      Here you can learn about Islamic medicine and science during the Middle Ages and the important role it played in the history of Europe.

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    • Historical Anatomies on the Web

      Historical Anatomies on the Web is a digital project designed to give Internet users access to high quality images from important anatomical atlases in the Library’s collection.

      Go to Historical Anatomies on the Web

    • Profiles in Science

      This site celebrates twentieth-century leaders in biomedical research and public health. It makes the archival collections of prominent scientists, physicians, and others who have advanced the scientific enterprise available to the public through modern digital technology.

      Go to Profiles in Science

    • Digital Projects

      Find a wide range of digitized materials from NLM historical collections on our Digital Projects page.

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    • Medical Stock Images

      Most US government images and graphics are in the public domain. We list some resources for medical stock shots, images, photographs, slides, videos, animations, and film footage that may be helpful.

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Last Reviewed: March 18, 2024