Nearly 60,000 items from the Medical Heritage Library now available in DPLA!

The Medical Heritage Library (MHL) is pleased to announce that MHL content can now be discovered through the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA).

The MHL, a specialized research collection stored in the Internet Archive, currently includes nearly 60,000 digital rare books, serials, audio and video recordings, and ephemera in the history of medicine, public health, biomedical sciences, and popular medicine from the medical special collections of 22 academic, special, and public libraries. MHL materials have been selected through a rigorous process of curation by subject specialist librarians and archivists and through consultation with an advisory committee of scholars in the history of medicine, public health, gender studies, digital humanities, and related fields.  Items, selected for their educational and research value, extend from 1235 (Liber Aristotil[is] de nat[u]r[a] a[nima]li[u]m ag[res]tium [et] marino[rum]), to 2014 (The Grog Issue 40 2014) with the bulk of the materials dating from the 19th century.

“The rich history of medicine content curated by the MHL is available for the first time alongside collections like those from the Biodiversity Heritage Library and the Smithsonian, and offers users a single access point to hundreds of thousands of scientific and history of science resources,” said DPLA Assistant Director for Content Amy Rudersdorf.

The collection is particularly deep in American and Western European medical publications in English, although more than a dozen languages are represented. Subjects include anatomy, dental medicine, surgery, public health, infectious diseases, forensics and legal medicine, gynecology, psychology, anatomy, therapeutics, obstetrics, neuroscience, alternative medicine, spirituality and demonology, diet and dress reform, tobacco, and homeopathy. The breadth of the collection is illustrated by these popular items: the United States Naval Bureau of Medical History’s audio oral history with Doctor Walter Burwell (1994) who served in the Pacific theatre during World War II and witnessed the first Japanese kamikaze attacks; History and medical description of the two-headed girl : sold by her agents for her special benefit, at 25 cents (1869)the first edition of Gray’s Anatomy (1858) (the single most-downloaded MHL text at more than 2,000 downloads annually), and a video collection of Hanna – Barbera Production Flintstones (1960) commercials for Winston cigarettes.

“As is clear from today’s headlines, science, health, and medicine have an impact on the daily lives of Americans,” said Scott H. Podolsky, chair of the MHL’s Scholarly Advisory Committee. “Vaccination, epidemics, antibiotics, and access to health care are only a few of the ongoing issues the history of which are well documented in the MHL. Partnering with the DPLA offers us unparalleled opportunities to reach new and underserved audiences, including scholars and students who don’t have access to special collections in their home institutions and the broader interested public.“

The MHL collection joins more than 7.6 million items available currently through DPLA. DPLA, an all-digital library that offers a single point of access to millions of items from libraries, archives, and museums around the United States, provides a generous array of interfaces into its collections. Users can browse and search by timeline, map, virtual bookshelf, and faceted search; save and share customized lists of items; explore digital exhibitions, and interact with DPLA-powered apps in its app library.

Robert Miller, Global Director of Books for the Internet Archive, noted, “Digitizing this collection has breathed new life into rare and unique texts that were previously only available in printed form. These items have already been downloaded over 3.7 million times. Combining a digital platform for access with curated content is a winner for the open knowledge movement.”

Creation of the MHL’s digital collection was funded by the Open Knowledge Commons, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Humanities and by the contributions of many of its principal and content contributors. The MHL continues to seek new collaborators and content; among the contributions anticipated for 2015 are oral histories with women leaders in medicine, 19th century British monographs, and American monographs, 1865-1923. New content is searchable as it is deposited and indexed from the MHL website, the Internet Archive, and the DPLA.

About the Medical Heritage Library
The Medical Heritage Library (MHL), a digital curation collaborative among some of the world’s leading medical libraries, promotes free and open access to quality historical resources in medicine. Our goal is to provide the means by which readers and scholars across a multitude of disciplines can examine the interrelated nature of medicine and society, both to inform contemporary medicine and strengthen understanding of the world in which we live. The MHL’s growing collection of digitized medical rare books, pamphlets, journals, and films number in the tens of thousands, with representative works from each of the past six centuries. The MHL can be found at, on Facebook, and Twitter (@medicalheritage).

About DPLA
The Digital Public Library of America ( strives to contain the full breadth of human expression, from the written word, to works of art and culture, to records of America’s heritage, to the efforts and data of science. Since launching in April 2013, it has aggregated over 7.6 million items from over 1,300 institutions. The DPLA is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit.

About the Internet Archive
The Internet Archive ( is a top 200 Internet website with a mission to build a digital library of internet sites and other cultural artifacts in digital form. By working with great content holders and libraries such as those above, we can together provide both storage of and access to treasures that can inform and educate the global community.

Request for Comments: Best Practices on Health Records

The Alan Mason Chesney Medical Archives of the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions and the Center for the History of Medicine at the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine, both MHL partners, are in the final stages of  the Private Practices, Public Health:  Privacy-Aware Processing to Maximize Access to Health Collections grant funded by the the Council for Library and Information Resources’Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives program.  Multiple collections at both institutions have been processed under this grant and the partners are now seeking feedback for the best practices documentation that has emerged from the processing.

This documentation is jointly authored recommendations for enabling and promoting access to manuscript and archival collections containing protected health information (PHI) and other types of access-protected records containing health information about individuals.

Click here to download a .pdf of Recommended Practices for Enabling Access to Manuscript and Archival Collections Containing Health Information About Individuals.

Both Hopkins and Countway want to hear back from researchers and historians, archivists/special collections staff (manuscript processors, public services librarians, administrators), and anyone else who may be debating whether or not to pursue acquiring, processing, or opening collections containing patient records or other health information. Are these recommendations reasonable? What are your challenges? Do the recommendations address them?

Please send feedback to Emily R. Novak Gustainis at: Comments received up until and including October 30th will receive first consideration in the review process.

If you’d like to read more about the project, check out our past posts:

Images from the Library


From Georges Crouigneau’s Promenades d’un médecin à travers l’Exposition (souvenirs de 1889) (1890).

As always, for more from the Medical Heritage Library, please visit our full collection!

A/V from the Library

Click “play” above or follow this link to listen to I’m a Skoal Dippin’ Man (undated).

As always, for more from the Medical Heritage Library, please visit our full collection!

New to the MHL!

Here are a few highlights from the latest items added to our collection; you can add a RSS feed that will give you updates on our new items here.

First, a couple of items with rather immediate topical application:

And some mental health titles:

And lastly, the wonderfully titled….

As always, for more from the Medical Heritage Library, please visit our full collection!

Images from the Library


From the YMCA Yearbook and Official Roster (1891).

As always, for more from the Medical Heritage Library, please visit our full collection!

A/V from the Library

Press “play” above or follow this link to watch Proud Years (1956).

As always, for more from the Medical Heritage Library, please visit our full collection!

Our Reading List (#3)

With the exciting news last week of the finding of one of the ships from Sir John Franklin’s last expedition, we decided to pull together some of the MHL’s resources on Arctic exploration in case this news stimulates your interest and while it’s still warm enough out that reading about the Arctic can be fun!

As always, for more from the Medical Heritage Library, please visit our full collection!


Images from the Library


From Hanau W. Loeb’s Operative surgery of the nose, throat, and ear, for laryngologists, rhinologists, otologists, and surgeons (1917).

As always, for more from the Medical Heritage Library, please visit our full collection!

Our Reading List (#2)

Here’s some of what we’ve been reading this week to help ease you into the weekend…

  • The Recipes Project blog has a great piece on Teaching with Historic Recipes. Personally, I’d love it if someone could teach me to make the glow-wine from Lewis Feuchtwanger’s Fermented Liquors. If that doesn’t strike your fancy, check out one of our other cooking-related titles.
  • Martin GrandJean has some interesting infographics and thoughts on “who follows who” in the Twitter digital humanities community.
  • Lindsey FitzHarris continues her “Disturbing Disorders” series with a piece on sirenomelia. (A quick search in our collection brings up eight titles that reference this disorder, including Cesare Taruffi’s Storia della teratologia (1881), the Manual of antenatal pathology and hygiene (1902 and 1905), and Practical podiatry (1918). You can recreate the search by going to the full-text search tool here and entering “sirenomelia.”)
  • If you’re building up your reading list for that next trip to the library or bookstore, you can check out the New York Times Bestselling Science Books. There’s history of medicine on there, too, including The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks and The Hot Zone.

As always, for more from the Medical Heritage Library, please visit our full collection!

A/V from the Library

Click “play” above or follow this link to watch: Today’s neuroscience, tomorrow’s history: Professor Salvador Moncada (2006).

As always, for more from the Medical Heritage Library, please visit our full collection!

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