NLM historical collections of material 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:
- NLM's Digital Collections: experience a variety of digitized books and videos
- Profiles in Science®: explore rich archival collections of leaders in biomedical research, clinical medicine, and public health
- Turning the Pages: touch, turn, and explore in visual and intellectual depth the pages of virtual rare books; and the many exhibitions of NLM's award-winning exhibition program
- Images from the History of Medicine: view nearly 70,000 images in the collections of NLM
- Medicine in the Americas: read full-text digital medical Americana
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, 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 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 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 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 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.
Visit the Library for tours and other activities.
Things to do and see at the Library
- Take a guided tour of the current special display in the History of Medicine Reading Room.
- Take a tour of the History of Medicine Reading Room.
- See all exhibitions.
- Take a tour of the Library.
- "Turn the pages" of Elizabeth Blackwell's A Curious Herbal, a beautifully illustrated 18th century book of medicinal plants, at the History of Medicine Reading Room's Turning the Pages kiosk.
- Explore Objects of Art in the National Library of Medicine.
- Visit the interactive computer displays and pick up give-aways at the NLM Visitors Center, open weekdays except Federal holidays, 9:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. (EST).