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Explore History

The History of Medicine Division at the National Library of Medicine

NLM historical collections related to health and disease are among the richest in the world and originate in all time periods and cultures. Our collections include rare books and manuscripts, historical prints and photographs, and historical films and videos.

You can learn about these collections through a variety of online resources, including:

Additionally, NLM historians and curators create specialized Web sites about a myriad of historical topics. Read about African Americans in Civil War medicine, cholera, Harry Potter and Renaissance science, magic, and medicine, public health posters, medieval manuscripts and early printed books, and more.

Recent Historical Exhibitions

Native Voices: Native Peoples' Concepts of Health and Illness

Native Voices: Native Peoples’ Concepts of Health and Illness, explores the interconnectedness of wellness, illness, and cultural life for Native Americans, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians. Visitors will discover how Native concepts of health and illness are closely tied to the concepts of community, spirit, and the land.

Against the Odds

Against the Odds looks at the revolution in global health that is taking place in towns and cities around the world. Communities, in collaboration with scientists, advocates, governments, and international organizations, are taking up the challenge to prevent disease and improve quality of life. People around the world have made a difference—working together, against the odds, for the benefit of all.

Visible Proofs

Visible Proofs explores the history of forensic medicine. This online exhibition presents how physicians, surgeons, and other professionals have struggled to develop scientific methods that translate views of bodies and body parts into "visible proofs" that can persuade judges, juries, and the public.

Changing the Face of Medicine

Changing the Face of Medicine presents many ways that women have influenced and enhanced the practice of medicine. The individuals featured here provide an intriguing glimpse of the broader community of women doctors who are making a difference.

Dream Anatomy

Dream Anatomy introduces an astonishing range of views of the human body from 1500 to the present. Anatomical artists pay homage to the body hidden under the skin with woodcuts, copper engravings, lithographs, photographs, and digital imaging.

Explore more exhibitions from NLM's award-winning Exhibition Program.

Search More Resources

Explore our Research Tools section to discover many more ways to search and discover our historical collections. Or select from one of these popular resources below.

Visit Us

Learn more about the History of Medicine Division at the National Library of Medicine or visit the Library in person for research or tours and other activities.