NLM Announces Two New Digital Collections: Incunabula & World War II U.S. Government DocumentsJanuary 11, 2017
The National Library of Medicine (NLM), the world's largest medical library and a component of the National Institutes of Health, is pleased to announce the addition of two new collections to NLM Digital Collections, the Library's free online repository of biomedical resources including books, still images, videos, and maps.
Incunabula: A collection of books and broadsides printed in Europe before 1501 includes over forty items from the Library's world-renowned collection of more than 580 incunabula on subjects relating to science and medicine, from printed classical works of Galen and Hippocrates to materials on the plague and other "pestilences." Incunabula (from the Latin for "cradle") are books and other materials produced with movable type on a printing press between the mid-1450s through the end of 1500 — the infancy of the age of printing. This digital collection will grow over time as the Library scans more incunabula titles.
Highlights of this new collection include:
- De pollutione nocturna by Jean Gerson (Cologne, 1466), considered the oldest medical book published in the West;
- the oldest known printed illustration of conjoined twins, from Jacob Locher's Carmen heroicum de partu monstrifero (Ingolstadt, 1499);
- Herbarius latinus (1485) and Ortus sanitatis (1491), two popular and treasured herbals, each with hand-colored illustrations of medicinal plants;
- a hand-colored copy of Astrolabium planu[m] in tabulis ascendens by Johannes Angelus (Augsburg, 1488), with over 400 woodcut illustrations and 80 miniatures depicting the influence of the 12 signs of the zodiac on everyday life.
World War 2, 1939-1949: A collection of U.S. government documents includes more than 1,500 federal, state, and local government publications. Among the variety of materials included are government reports, first aid manuals, informational pamphlets, and recruitment materials that demonstrate the efforts of government, military personnel, health professionals, and scientists, among others, on the home front and overseas during and immediately following the Second World War.
Highlights of this new collection include:
- publications on the challenges introduced by the new weaponry of chemical warfare, including an illustrated field manual entitled Defense against chemical attack, released by the U.S. Army in 1940;
- a 1945 self-care guide entitled Keep well! Here's How published by the War Shipping Administration that warns of the dangers of malaria, dysentery, and venereal disease;
- recruitment brochures, reports, and other materials that display the changing role and status of the military nurse during and after the war;
- Final report of the Committee on Medical and Hospital Services of the Armed Forces (1949), and other documents originally classified as "Restricted" that now bear "Unclassified" stamps, many of which were signed by Dr. Frank B. Rogers, director of the Library from 1949 until 1963.
All of the content in NLM Digital Collections is freely available worldwide and, unless otherwise indicated, in the public domain. As with all printed materials added to the NLM Digital Collections, items from these new collections will also be included in the Internet Archive, and as part of the Medical Heritage Library through the ongoing collaboration with that international digital curation collaborative.
For more information about the content of these two new digital collections, please contact the History of Medicine Division Reference Desk at NLM Customer Support.
The National Library of Medicine (NLM) is a leader in research in biomedical informatics and data science and the world’s largest biomedical library. NLM conducts and supports research in methods for recording, storing, retrieving, preserving, and communicating health information. NLM creates resources and tools that are used billions of times each year by millions of people to access and analyze molecular biology, biotechnology, toxicology, environmental health, and health services information. Additional information is available at https://www.nlm.nih.gov.
Last Reviewed: May 22, 2017