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History of Medicine

Reference Services and Information

The History of Medicine Reference staff responds to history of medicine inquiries from across the U. S. and abroad by e-mail, telephone, mail, fax, and in person.

Reference staff members are available to help researchers during regular hours, Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m. (EST), except on Federal holidays. Material is retrieved from the stacks to the History of Medicine Reading Room on the hour from 9:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.

  • Ask a Reference Librarian:

    Contact a Reference librarian at the History of Medicine Reference desk by phone 8:30 a.m - 5:00 p.m. (EST) Monday - Friday or send an e-mail or fax.

    Reference Librarians: Stephen Greenberg, Anne Rothfeld, Crystal Smith

    Phone: 301-402-8878
    Fax: 301-402-0872
    E-mail: hmdref@nlm.nih.gov

  • How do I look for...

    • Books, journals, historical images, and films?

      Search for books, journals, images and films in the Library catalog (LocatorPlus). Historical images can also be searched in the Image database (IHM). See also Using the Collections.

    • Islamic and Western manuscripts?

      Search Islamic manuscripts in Library catalog (LocatorPlus). Many but not all Western manuscripts are in LocatorPlus. See a complete list of Western manuscripts in Early Western Manuscripts in the NLM: A Short Title List.

    • A person or organization's papers?

      The Archives and Modern Manuscripts Collection can be searched in the Library catalog (LocatorPlus). Manuscript collections are identified by an "MS" call number. Oral histories have an "OH" call number.

      For more information see Archives and Modern Manuscripts Program.

    • Sources for genealogical and biographical research?

      Historical collections include medical biographies, medical directories, and obituary indexes, primarily from the 19th century. See Selected Sources for Biographical Information about 17th-Early 20th Century American Physicians (pdf). An especially useful source is the Directory of Deceased American Physicians, 1804-1929, published by the American Medical Association. This directory is available in the History of Medicine Reading Room, and at many large research and medical school libraries.

      For information to help you prepare for your genealogical research at NLM, please see Genealogical Research in the History of Medicine. While there are no actual records, you will find bibliographical citations, finding aids, and information on how to conduct research using a variety of materials in the collection.

    • Information on the history of NIH?

      See Historical Resources at the DeWitt Stetten, Jr., Museum of Medical Research web site.

    • Information on the history of NLM?

      See A Brief History of NLM, The Story of NLM Historical Collections, and NLM Archives.

    • Journal articles in the history of medicine?

      To find journal articles in the history of medicine, use the following online and print resources:

      MEDLINE/PubMed (Online) - To find journal articles in the history of medicine that were published after 1964, click Limits on the PubMed homepage and select Subset History of Medicine.
      For articles published from 1958-1965, select Subset OLDMEDLINE for Pre1966.
      For information about PubMed, see FAQ MEDLINE/PubMed and Other Databases.

      Bibliography of the History of Medicine (Print) - Includes journal articles, book chapters, and conference papers and proceedings published from 1965-1993. The Bibliography is a print version of the discontinued HISTLINE database.

      Index-Catalogue of the Library of the Surgeon-General’s Office (Print) or IndexCat (Online) - Includes journal articles in the history of medicine published from the 17th-20th century.

      Index-Medicus (Print) - Index to journal articles in biomedical journals worldwide published from 1879-1927.

    • Primary source material in the history of medicine?

      The printed Index-Catalogue of the Library of the Surgeon-General's Office (online version IndexCat), U.S. Army (61 volumes in 5 series, 1880-1961) is a valuable resource, especially for pamphlets, dissertations, and journal articles from the 19th and early 20th centuries.

      Index Medicus (1879- ), which indexes articles in the medical journal literature, is another useful resource that is widely available.

      The Bibliography of the History of Medicine, a printed version of the discontinued HISTLINE database, was published in six cumulative volumes (1964-1993), and is useful for pre-1993 material.

      For more information, see Printed Catalogs and Guides.

    • NLM historical material that is online?

      Selected material from historical collections can be viewed in Online Exhibitions, Related NLM Web Sites, and digitized books, manuscripts, and pictures. For a complete list of digitized historical material, see Digital Collections.

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  • How do I borrow (interlibrary loan)?

    The Library does not lend historical material in its original format; however, we do lend copies of journal articles; copies of selected manuscripts; books; and manuscripts on microfilm (when available); and copies of films and videos. The Library's interlibrary loan services are available only to libraries, not to individuals. Individuals who want to borrow NLM material should make a request through a local library. For more information see Interlibrary Loan Fact Sheet.

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  • How do I request copies?

    • How to get photocopies of NLM historical material

      Self-service photocopying of historical material is not permitted. For onsite patrons, History of Medicine staff will do limited photocopying for a fee of 20¢ per page, depending on the condition of the material. Patrons may pick up completed orders at the History of Medicine Reading Room or have them mailed free of charge.

      Off site requests for photocopies of journal articles require an interlibrary loan request. See How Do I Borrow?

    • How to get copies of pictures from books, journals, manuscripts, etc., in NLM historical collections

      The Library has arrangements in place with an approved photographer, who, at the discretion of the History of Medicine Conservation Librarian, performs onsite photography of material from historical collections. The photographer visits History of Medicine at least once a month. Patrons make billing and shipping arrangements directly with the photographer.

      Before requesting photographic services, read the following forms:

      For more information Ask a Reference Librarian.

      See also Photographic reproductions at the Archives and Modern Manuscripts Program page.

      Note that Historical Collections Copyright Information applies to all photographic reproduction requests.

    • How to get copies of NLM historical pictures and films

      For prints and photographs, search the Images from the History of Medicine (IHM) database and see Order Images on the IHM homepage. Also see Prints and Photographs.

      To purchase copies of films and videos, see How to Access and Use Films and Videos. See also Films and Videos.

    • How to purchase microfilm

      Some books and manuscripts in NLM historical collections have been microfilmed and are available for purchase. The item's LocatorPlus record indicates if that item has been microfilmed. For information about purchasing microfilm, see the Microfilm Sales Program Fact Sheet or Ask a Reference Librarian Fact Sheet.

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