New York Academy of Medicine Library Launches Digital Exhibit “Facendo Il Libro: The Making of Fasciculus Medicinae, an Early Printed Anatomy”

~Post courtesy Kiri Oliver, Communications Manager, The New York Academy of Medicine

The New York Academy of Medicine Library has launched a new digital exhibit, “Facendo Il Libro: The Making of Fasciculus  Medicinae, an Early Printed Anatomy.” The Library, one of the world’s most significant historical libraries in medicine and public health, holds five editions printed between the years of 1495 and 1522 of the Fasciculus Medicinae, which contains the earliest realistic anatomical images in print, and the earliest scenes of dissection anywhere. The digital exhibit explores full scans of these richly illustrated editions, examining each work on its own – and also in context of each other, and looking at the printing techniques that were used to create them.

“The Academy’s dedication to public access to our Library’s collections continues with the launch of a digitized exhibit of this seminal work. Today, scholars and users worldwide can easily access an important resource in the history of medicine and public health,” said Academy President Judith A. Salerno, MD, MS.

The book was first printed in Venice in 1491 by the brothers Gregori at their famous printing house. It was extremely popular, and went through 14 editions by the year 1522.  Originally collected in manuscript form, the text comprises a number of medical treatises on uroscopy, phlebotomy, anatomy, surgery, and gynecology. The book’s woodcut illustrations include skilled renderings of medieval prototypes including a Zodiac Man, bloodletting man, and an urinoscopic consultation.

“This exhibit tells an important story about an influential medical text, and its evolution during the earliest years of printing in Northern Italy. Exploring the book’s astonishing woodcuts, the earliest realistic anatomical illustrations in print, enhances our understanding of how sixteenth-century individuals related to and understood their bodies in times of sickness and health,” said Academy Library Curator Anne Garner.

“Facendo Il Libro” is an addition to the Academy’s digitization initiatives led by Dr. Robin Naughton, Head of Digital. Also included in the exhibit are curated essays on each edition, noting important technical, textual, and artistic changes in each, and on the culture of Venetian print. The essays were contributed by guest scholars

Taylor McCall, PhD, and Natalie Lussey Seale, PhD. This online exhibit was made possible by generous support from The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation.


Now online, decades of medical student theses available for download

~This story is courtesy Jenny Blair and Yale Medicine.

In the spring of 1952, Jocelyn Malkin, M.D. ’52, completed her student thesis on laryngeal cancer. Using punch cards, Malkin encoded clinical characteristics of 235 patients suffering from the malignancy, including race, religion, family history, and “excessive voice use.” She then threaded the cards onto a sorter shaped like an ice pick, looking for clear-cut risk factors. One stood out starkly: tobacco use.

After seeing her own thesis results, Malkin recalls, she “nagged” her husband to quit his cigarette habit. Later, as a psychoanalytic institute leader in Washington, D.C., she refused to allow light-ups in meetings.

“Everybody smoked—it was considered very, very cool,” she says. “I was very unpopular because I made a fuss about it.” Thanks to her thesis, Malkin was far ahead of her time. Not until 1957 did the U.S. Surgeon General issue its first report on the health consequences of smoking. Tobacco use is now known to be the most important laryngeal-cancer risk factor.

Malkin’s historic typewritten thesis is freely available online, along with hundreds of other newly digitized Yale medical student theses. Although hard copies of most recent and many older theses are available to peruse in the medical library, digitization and open access means a much larger audience.

“What we’re doing now just opens them up to the world,” says Melissa Grafe, Ph.D., the John R. Bumstead Librarian for Medical History at the Cushing/Whitney Medical Library.

The world has responded. Over 80,000 downloads of Yale medical student theses have taken place by readers in 187 countries, over half at educational or governmental facilities. The theses are available at both the Medical Heritage Library, an online consortium of major medical libraries that digitizes materials and makes them freely available via Internet Archive, and from Yale’s in-house repository, Eli Scholar.

With the first evidence of a thesis requirement appearing in an 1839 catalog, the Yale School of Medicine is perhaps the longest-lived such directive of its kind. Many theses go on to be edited and published in medical journals, but many others have long languished on shelves, largely unread.

Digitization has been underway since 2002, when the medical library and the YSM Office of Student Research placed some of that year’s theses online as part of the Yale Medicine Thesis Digital Library project. Four years later, submitting a digital copy became mandatory of all students. Living alumni were first invited to participate in 2012, and the project has rolled along since then via outreach at alumni events.

But in 2017, a grant to Yale University Library by the Arcadia Fund, one intended to preserve at-risk cultural materials, made it possible to digitize many more.

On July 12, 2017, John Gallagher, director of the Medical Library, with the assistance of Deborah Jagielow, director of Alumni Affairs, emailed some 3,000 alumni from the Class of 2009 and before, inviting them to participate. Within five hours, close to 400 replies had come in granting permission. Eventually, nearly 1,200 alumni agreed to allow digitization, including the families of four who had died.

Grafe and her colleagues then packed up 51 boxes of hard-copy theses and mailed them to Princeton, New Jersey, where, over October, November, and December, the Internet Archive scanned them in (and then mailed them back). Yale library staff then embarked on a quality-control check, making sure all the scans were legible and the data attached to each thesis were accurate.

“Even though it was a short timeline, it was a careful process,” Grafe says. “We wanted to make sure that the alumni who entrusted us with digitizing their material were happy with what they saw [and] received something they could share.”

Topics trend over time, she adds.

“In the late 80s and early 90s, I saw a batch of theses having to do with HIV and AIDS, and in recent years there’s been some global health emphasis,” she says. By contrast, in the 1960s and 70s, patient care and community health were popular.

A quick browse turns up theses on West Nile myeloencephalitis (1955), fetal electrocardiography (1957), cross-cultural psychiatry (1966), concentration camp survivors’ guilt (1971), health care for migrant farmworkers (1975), athletics in hemophilia (1980), detective fiction (1980), children’s fear of needles (1982), childbirth in literature (1987), professional courtesy (1996), and spirituality in HIV care (2001).

There are also many 19th-century theses in elaborate copperplate handwriting, including “On Diabetes Mellitus,” “On Gonorrhea,” and “On The Therapeutic Application of Ice.”

Everything is faithfully preserved as a PDF, including linen-bound covers, blank pages, and librarians’ penciled notations on title pages. Malkin’s includes a copy of the cards she used, notched with their telltale punch-outs. So far, it has been downloaded 50 times.

The digitization project is ongoing. Though theses written prior to 1923 are in the public domain, the library continues to seek permission from alumni or living relatives for any written after that. Interested alumni can fill out an online form.

Ferenc Gyorgyey Research Travel Grant

~This post is courtesy Melissa Grafe, Head of the Harvey Cushing/John Hay Whitney Medical Historical Library at Yale University.

The Medical Historical Library of the Harvey Cushing/John Hay Whitney Medical Library at Yale University is pleased to announce its eleventh annual Research Travel Award for use of the Historical Library.

The Ferenc Gyorgyey Research Travel Grant is available to historians, medical practitioners, and other researchers who wish to use the collections of the Harvey Cushing/John Hay Whitney Medical Library. In any given year the award is up to $1,500 for one week of research.  Funds may be used for transportation, housing, food, and photographic reproductions. The award is limited to residents of the United States and Canada.

The Medical Historical Library holds one of the country’s largest collections of rare medical books, journals, prints, photographs, and pamphlets. It was founded in 1941 by the donations of the extensive collections of Harvey CushingJohn F. Fulton, and Arnold C. Klebs. Special strengths are the works of Hippocrates, Galen, Vesalius, Boyle, Harvey, Culpeper, Haller, Priestley, and S. Weir Mitchell, and works on anatomy, anesthesia, and smallpox inoculation and vaccination. The Library owns over fifty medieval and renaissance manuscripts, Arabic and Persian manuscripts, and over 300 medical incunabula.  The notable Clements C. Fry Collection of Prints and Drawings has over 2,500 fine prints, drawings, and posters from the 15th century to the present on medical subjects, and the collection has expanded to approximately 10,000 items.  Themes include social justice, war, drug use, reproductive rights, HIV/AIDS, activism, and more.  Although the Historical Library does not house the official archives of the Medical School, it does own a number of manuscript collections, most notably the Peter Parker Collection, papers of Harvey Cushing, and the John Fulton diaries and notebooks. The Library also owns an extensive Smoking and tobacco advertising collection, the Robert Bogdan collection of disability photographs and postcards, medical imagery from popular publications donated by Bert Hansen, and smaller collections of patent medicine ephemera from noted collector William Helfand.

The application deadline is April 29th, 2018.  A committee will review applications and grant recipients will be notified in early June. Please apply through Yale University Grants & Fellowships website. 

A complete application comprises:

  • Research proposal (of up to 2000 words)
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Budget
  • 2 letters of reference

Please email Melissa Grafe, Head of the Medical Historical Library, with any

The MHL Welcomes the BIU Santé!

~This post courtesy Solenne Coutagne, manager of digital projects at BIU Santé.

Since October 2017, the Medical Heritage Library has a new contributor, the Bibliothèque interuniversitaire de Santé (abbreviated BIU Santé).

The main reading room.

The BIU Santé (Paris) is the library of reference in the field of health in France. From its two Parisian sites (one site covering pharmacy, the other medicine and dentistry), it welcomes medical, pharmacy and odontology students, as well as health professionals (doctors, nurses, dentists, physiotherapists …) and researchers from France and the whole world.

The collection held in the site dedicated to medicine and odontology is the heir of the library of the former Faculty of Medicine in Paris (founded in the 13th century), of the Academy and College of Surgery and of the Royal Society of medicine. That library was first opened to the public in 1746. The collection was developed thanks to donations during the 18th century but also thanks to the confiscations during the French Revolution when the properties of the clergy and the nobility were confiscated and made available to increase the collections of the newly created public institutions (museums, libraries…).

The collection preserved in the site dedicated to pharmacy is inherited from the library of the Community of Apothecaries of Paris (1484-1777) which became the College of Pharmacy (1777-1796). The heritage collection was mostly extended by sales or donations at the end of the nineteenth century under the initiative of the librarian, Paul Dorveaux.  Both collections increased massively as document production and the scientific press exploded during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

As a result, the library maintains an incredibly rich heritage collection not only in the field of medicine and pharmacy, but also in other sciences and even in other fields (history, literature, law…): The BIU Santé is renowned for holding one of the three largest medical heritage collections (with the National Library of Medicine and the Wellcome Library).

Thesis of medicine from Jean Poisson, dedicated to Louis XIV (1682).

Immersed in the 36 kilometers of shelves, the heritage collection contains, among its particularities:

The essentials of occidental medicine are represented by tens of thousands of documents from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries. These are mostly books but also archives, prints or original drawings (including the drawings from Gérard de Lairesse (1641-1711) which were used in the Bidloo’s Anatomia humani corporis or the original Sagemolen’s drawings (c. 1620-1669) for an unedited work directed by the Dutch anatomist Van Horn (1621-1670)).

The increase of printing production in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries as well as the central position of France in medical research during this period make the BIU Santé a very important center of documentation for French and foreign researchers.

The digitization of the BIU Santé’s collection is not a new effort. In the last sixteen years, the library has digitized nearly 16, 500 documents from its collections, which represents more than 4 millions pages. All of this is already online in our digital library, Medica ( as well as in our image bank ( in which, in addition to the iconographic collection of the library, all the illustrations from Medica are available.

Sagemolen, Marten (drawing) / Van Horne, Johannes. Ms 28. (circa 1660).

All the material of our digital library which is in the public domain will be, step by step, uploaded into Internet Archive. We are very excited by this new project as it will enable our collection to benefit from the functionalities provided by Internet Archive and the Medical Heritage Library (full-text search …).

Offering the access to this massive collection in history of medicine in an unique place, the Medical Heritage Library will allow our collection to be highlighted, internationally better known and used.

Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library Travel Grant

~Courtesy Rachel Ingold, Curator, History of Medicine Collections at the Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University

The History of Medicine Collections in the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Duke University is accepting applications for our travel grant program. 
Research grants of up to $1,500 will be offered to researchers whose work would benefit from access to the historical medical collections at the Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library. Our holdings include over 20,000 print items and 4,500 unique manuscripts along with photographs, prints, and over 800 medical instruments and artifacts including a large collection of ivory anatomical manikins. Collection strengths include but are not limited to anatomical atlases, human sexuality, materia medica, pediatrics, psychiatry, and obstetrics & gynecology,.
Any faculty member, graduate or undergraduate student, or independent scholar with a research project requiring the use of materials held by the History of Medicine Collections is eligible to apply. Writers, creative and performing artists, film makers and journalists are welcome to apply.  All applicants must reside outside of a 100-mile radius of Durham, NC.
Grant money may be used for: transportation expenses (including air, train or bus ticket charges; car rental; mileage using a personal vehicle; parking fees); accommodations; and meals. Expenses will be reimbursed once the grant recipient has completed his or her research visit(s) and has submitted original receipts.
Research topics should be strongly supported by the History of Medicine Collections.  We encourage applicants to contact the Curator of the History of Medicine Collections to discuss research projects and Rubenstein Library collections that might support it before submitting an application. 
The deadline for application is January 31, 2018 by 5:00 PM EST. Recipients will be announced in March 2018. Grants must be used between April 1, 2018 and June 30, 2019.

Digitization Collaborative Provides Open Access to Over 100 Years of American Medical History through the Internet Archive

The Medical Heritage Library has completed its National Endowment for the Humanities-funded initiative Medicine at Ground Level: State Medical Societies, State Medical Journals, and the Development of American Medicine, 1900-2000

Boston, MA, October 2, 2017. The Medical Heritage Library has released 3,907 state medical society journal volumes free of charge for nearly 50 state medical societies, including those for the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, through the Internet Archive ( The journals – collectively held and digitized by Medical Heritage Library founders and principal contributors The College of Physicians of Philadelphia; the Center for the History of Medicine, Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine; The New York Academy of Medicine Library; the Library and Center for Knowledge Management at the University of California at San Francisco; the National Library of Medicine of the National Institutes of Health; the Augustus C. Long Health Sciences Library at Columbia University and Columbia University Libraries; and content contributor the Health Sciences and Human Services Library, University of Maryland, Founding Campus, with supplemental journal content provided by the Brown University Library, the Health Sciences Library of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the University of Pittsburgh Health Sciences Library System, and UT Southwestern Medical Center Health Sciences Digital Library and Learning Center –  consist of almost three million pages that can be searched online and downloaded in a variety of formats. State medical society journals document the transformation of American medicine at both the local and national level, serving as sites not only for scientific articles, but for medical talks, local news regarding the medical profession, pharmaceutical and device advertising, and unexpurgated musings on medicine and society throughout the 20th century.

Project supporter and former president of the American Association for the History of Medicine, Distinguished Professor of History Nancy J. Tomes, Stony Brook University, notes: “The value of this collection lies precisely in the insights state journals provide on issues of great contemporary interest. They shed light on questions at the heart of today’s policy debates: why do physicians treat specific diseases so differently in different parts of the country? Why is it such a challenge to develop and implement professional policies at the national level? How do state level developments in health insurance influence federal policy and vice versa? How do factors such as race, class, gender, and ethnicity affect therapeutic decision making? How have methods of promoting new therapies and technologies changed over time? These are issues of interest not only to historians but to political scientists, sociologists, and economists.”

The digitized collection offers unprecedented, centralized access to one of the richest resources concerning the evolution of American medicine and will open the texts to new forms of analysis in the digital humanities, such as those supporting the investigation of health trends and outcomes over time and region, as well as visualizations.

Journals were digitized between 2015 and 2017 through the National Endowment for the Humanities (grant number: PW-228226-15), with additional funding provided by the Harvard Library and the Arcadia Fund, as well as Harvard Medical School. All publications found in the collection are provided free of charge by individual journal publishers agreeing to open access for content currently under copyright. Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. For more on the NEH Office of Digital Humanities visit

Beyond the Internet Archive’s portal through which MHL content is delivered, the Medical Heritage Library hosts state-by-state links to the journals ( and the MHL’s advanced search interface (, which offers full-text, proximity, date, and language searching among other features.


About the Medical Heritage Library
Founded in 2010 with funding from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to digitize 30,000 medical rare books, the Medical Heritage Library (MHL) is a digital curation collaborative among some of the world’s leading medical libraries that promotes free and open access to quality historical resources in medicine. The MHL’s 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 our understanding of the world in which we live. The MHL’s growing collection of digitized medical rare books, pamphlets, journals, and films number over 200,000, with representative works from each of the past seven centuries, all of which are available through the Internet Archive. Information about the MHL may be found on our website,


Media Contact
Hanna Clutterbuck-Cook

New to the MHL!

In case you haven’t been keeping up, here are some of the latest things to come into our collection:

See more of our latest additions right here! And you can subscribe to the RSS feed of our latest additions here.

State Medical Society Journal Digitization Project Wrapping Up

Our latest digitization project, state medical society journals, is in its last months. We’re working on the final report to the National Endowment for the Humanities (#SavetheNEH, by the way!) and the last few volumes are going into the collection.

There’s more than one way you can access the material. There is, of course, the main collection page on the Internet Archive, but we’re also working on a more detailed list by state and we hope to supplement this list with links to each journal title individually.

You will automatically search the state medical journals project as part of the main MHL collection if you use the IA search box from our main collection page and you can also use our own full-text search tool. Scroll down to “collections” and select “statemedicalsocietyjournals” to use all the power of our search tool for this body of material.

New York Academy of Medicine Library Launches New Digital Collections Website

de Chauliac_watermarkThe New York Academy of Medicine Library announced
today the launch of its new digital collections and exhibits website, hosted on the open-source framework Islandora and accessible at The new site makes it easy for the public to access and explore highlights of the Library’s world-class historical collections in
the history of medicine and public health.

“The Academy is committed to enhancing access to our Library’s world-class collections through digitization,” said Academy President Jo Ivey Boufford, MD.
“With the launch of our new digital collections and exhibits website, users across
the globe will have access to an ever-growing number of important resources in the
history of medicine and public health.”

The website includes a glimpse into the Library’s rare and historical collections material. In one day, high-end photographer Ardon Bar-Hama, courtesy of George Blumenthal, took photos of a subset of the Library’s treasures, which are all accessible via the new website. Visitors interested in cookery can page through the Library’s Apicius manuscript with 500 Greek and Roman recipes from the 4th and 5th centuries. Other highlights includes beautiful anatomical images from Andreas Vesalius’s De Humani corporis Fabrica and striking botanicals like this skunk cabbage
(Symplocarpus Foetida) hand-colored plate from William P. C. Barton’s
Vegetable Materia Medica.

AyersHairVigor_watermarkAlso featured is The William H. Helfand Collection of Pharmaceutical Trade Cards, which contains approximately 300 colorful pharmaceutical trade cards produced in the U.S. and France between 1875 and 1895 that were used to advertise a wide range of goods in the nineteenth century. Such cards are now regarded as some of the
best source material for the study of advertising, technology and trade in the post-Civil War period.

“It is gratifying to digitize our materials and see them come to life with the launch,”
said Robin Naughton, PhD, Head of Digital for the Library. “Our digital collections and
exhibits website represent a bridge between the Academy Library’s collections and
the world as it intersects with the humanities and technology.”

The Library will continue to launch new digital collections and exhibits, including
“How to Pass Your O.W.L.’s at Hogwarts: A Prep Course,” which celebrates the 20th
anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and will be
launched on June 26. Two other upcoming digital projects focus on the history of the
book: “Facendo Il Libro/Making the Book,” funded by the Gladys Krieble Delmas
Foundation, and “Biography of a Book,” funded by a National Endowment for the
Humanities Digital Projects for the Public grant.

About The New York Academy of Medicine Library
The Academy is home to one of the most significant historical libraries in medicine
and public health in the world, safeguarding the heritage of medicine to inform the
future of health. The Library is dedicated to building bridges among an
interdisciplinary community of scholars, educators, clinicians, and the general
public, and fills a unique role in the cultural and scholarly landscape of New York
City. Serving a diverse group of patrons—from historians and researchers to
documentary filmmakers to medical students and elementary school students—the
Academy collections serve to inform and inspire a variety of audiences from the
academic to the public at large.

Freeing the LAMS from the Silos; or, How We Learned to Love MARC for the Sake of BIBFRAME

On April 1st, the College of Physicians of Philadelphia released what we lovingly refer to as the “Digital Spine,” one of the few MHL_image_1catalogs in the United States that merges descriptions of, and access to, library, archival and museum collections.

Approximately 145,000 bibliographic records for collections in the Historical Medical Library and approximately 28,000 records for objects in the Mütter Museum will be merged in a single, cross-searchable database.  To sample this integration, go to and search for “foreign bodies.”





Museum records are slowly being released into the online public access catalog (OPAC).  One of the biggest problems with integrating these two collections is the lack of standardization for describing museum objects (of any kind).  In library description, we have “title.” In museum description, something akin to a title can be found in “Remarks” or “Description” or “Object Description” or “Object Name.”  Building crosswalks between library and museum descriptions is an engaging activity.



Another problem is the interim use of the MARC format to catalog museum objects.  The long-term goal of the Digital Spine project is to expose collections metadata to crawling by search engines.  In order to do this, we had to start with MARC, which seems antithetical, since MARC is not a structure that is understood by search engines. The College selected SirsiDynix as the vendor for this project because of SirsiDynix’ recent release of its BLUEcloud LSP.  BLUEcloud Visibility pulls a library’s records and transforms them using BIBFRAME, which exposes catalog records as linked data.  Here, for example, is part of the “Person” record for Chevalier L. Jackson, the “father” of American laryngology, whose foreign body collection, items referenced above, is one of the first museum collections to be released into the OPAC.




In the near future, we anticipating spending a lot of time tidying museum records and releasing them to the OPAC; retrospectively cataloging original library material that never made it into the original conversion to electronic format; and working with SirsiDynix to create an archives “module” to accommodate hierarchically described collections.  In the long term, we plan to expand the reach of our metadata as linked data – how extensible can we be?  In answering that question, we will truly free the LAMs from the silo.