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

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.



Congratulations to UCSF and Partners!

NEH awards leading San Francisco institutions $315,000 to digitize AIDS archives

The Archives and Special Collections department of the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) Library, in collaboration with the San Francisco Public Library (SFPL) and the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender (GLBT) Historical Society, has been awarded a $315,000 implementation grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The collaborating institutions will digitize about 127,000 pages from 49 archival collections related to the early days of the AIDS epidemic in the San Francisco Bay Area and make them widely accessible to the public online. In the process, collections whose components had been placed in different archives for various reasons will be digitally reunited, facilitating access for researchers outside the Bay Area. Continue reading

National Endowment for the Humanities Awards New York Academy of Medicine Library with Digital Projects for the Public Discovery Grant

Interactive digital “Biography of a Book” project brings to life the creation, use and collection of key historic texts in the Academy Library’s rare book collections

The National Endowment for the Humanities has awarded The New York Academy of Medicine Library $30,000 through its Humanities Digital Projects for the Public Discovery Grant program to support the development of its interactive digital “Biography of a Book” project. This innovative project aims to tell the individual and collective stories of books, ranging from the survival of one of only two extant medieval copies of an ancient Roman cookbook, to a twentieth century re-imagining of a classic work of Renaissance anatomy. Continue reading

The MHL Welcomes a New Partner: The Osler Library

The Medical Heritage Library is pleased to announce our first new partner of 2016: the Osler Library of the History of Medicine at McGill University.

The Osler Library of the History of Medicine at McGill University, Montreal, Canada, opened in 1929 to house the collection of rare medical and other books donated by Sir William Osler (1849-1929), the renowned physician and McGill graduate and professor. Initially comprising 8000 titles listed in the Bibliotheca Osleriana, the collection – one of the world’s outstanding ones – has grown to around 100,000 works including rare monographs, journals, archives and prints, as well as scholarly publications about the history of the health sciences and related areas. To date, the Library has scanned 152 items, all of which are available on the Library’s own Internet Archive site as well as in the MHL collection.

Making the Osler Library’s items available through the MHL not only enriches the MHL collection, but makes the Osler’s items searchable through the MHL’s Bookworm and full-text search tools.

We’re delighted to be able to include the Osler’s material in our collection and will be tagging more as the Library continues to scan items.

The MHL Welcomes a New Partner: Rush University Medical Center Archives

The Rush University Medical Center Archives, Chicago, Ill., is the official archival agency of Rush University Medical Center and Rush University. The Rush Archives holds almost 3000 linear feet of material from these two institutions and their predecessor schools and hospitals going back to the founding of Rush Medical College in 1837, two days before the city of Chicago was incorporated. The Rush Archives also includes the personal papers of many individuals related to those institutions. Photographs, audiovisual material, paintings, artifacts, nursing school uniforms and caps, and digital assets document the history of Rush, also.

From St. Luke’s News, August 1946, p. 11. From the St. Luke’s Hospital Records, #4704.

From St. Luke’s News, August 1946, p. 11. From the St. Luke’s Hospital Records, #4704.

Hundreds of the Rush Archives’ most used documents have been digitized and are available on the Internet Archive, including annual reports and newsletters from Rush Medical CollegePresbyterian Hospital, founded in 1883; St. Luke’s Hospital, founded in 1864; and the Central Free Dispensary, founded in 1873. These items also document Presbyterian Hospital and St. Luke’s Hospital’s nursing schools, founded in 1903 and 1884, respectively. These newsletters and annual reports provide significant information and photographs regarding the advancement of medical and nursing education, developments in research, and changes in patient care during Rush’s more than 175 years of serving Chicago communities.

All of the yearbooks in the Rush Archives from the following schools are now available online, also:

St. Luke’s Hospital School of Nursing

Presbyterian Hospital School of Nursing

Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Hospital School of Nursing

Rush University and its four colleges, Rush Medical College, the College of Nursing, the College of Health Sciences, and the Graduate College

Thanks to the Book Digitization Initiative Grant and the Yearbook Digitization Project grant from the Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries in Illinois (CARLI), these items were digitized by and made available through the Internet Archive.

Rush University Medical Center Archivist, Nathalie Wheaton, MSLS, is particularly fond of the 1895 issue of

Drawing by Rush Medical College student Christian H. Beyer, class of 1895.  From The Pulse Yearbook, 1895, p.158. From the Rush Medical College Records, #4707.

Drawing by Rush Medical College student Christian H. Beyer, class of 1895.
From The Pulse Yearbook, 1895, p.158. From the Rush Medical College Records, #4707.

Rush Medical College’s yearbook, The Pulse, and the school’s newsletter, The Corpuscle, 1890-1900. “The 1890s were an exciting time in Chicago history, spearheaded by the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. The World’s Fair really put Chicago on the map. The items in our collection from the 1890s feature wonderful drawings of smiling skulls, darkly funny poems, and photographs of its football team in action. During this era, Rush’s faculty was heavily involved in raising national standards for medical education. Rush Medical College set itself apart from many other Chicago medical schools by providing its students with a solid background in the sciences, incomparable laboratories, and experience in patient care through Rush’s teaching hospital, Presbyterian Hospital.” Rush Medical College became affiliated with the University of Chicago in 1898 and served as its medical school until 1941. To learn more about the history of Rush, please visit

The MHL Welcomes a New Member: Health Sciences Library of the University of North Carolina

The Health Bulletin, Volume 36, Issue 8, page 16 (August 1921).

The Health Bulletin, Volume 36, Issue 8, page 16 (August 1921).

The Health Sciences Library (HSL) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has recently added the North Carolina History of Health Digital Collection to the Medical Heritage Library. The North Carolina History of Health Digital Collection contains more than 1000 books, journals, reports, bulletins, minutes, proceedings, and histories covering topics in medicine, public health, dentistry, pharmacy, and nursing, dating from 1849 to the present. These materials thoroughly document the development of health care and the health professions within North Carolina and is thus a significant part of the state’s cultural heritage and history, helping to reveal manifold health problems and how these problems were perceived, understood, and treated over time. The digital collection provides consolidated online access to resources that have been difficult to find and utilize in print.

HSL Special Collections Librarian Dawne Lucas particularly likes the public service announcements from The Health Bulletin, which was “sent free to any citizen of the State upon request.” “The public service announcements were an eye-catching way to draw attention to prominent health problems in early 20th century North Carolina,” says Lucas.  “Some of them, such as the ones promoting the importance of vaccines, are still relevant today.”

This project was made possible by a multi-year NC ECHO (Exploring Cultural Heritage Online) digitization grant for the creation of the North Carolina History of Health Digital Collection. NC ECHO is funded by the State Library of North Carolina through the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA).

To see the new items from UNC as well as the full Medical Heritage Library collection, follow this link!

New to the MHL: Anatomy, Myology, and Operative Surgery

The Augustus C. Long Health Sciences Library has recently added several important volumes in the history of medicine to the Medical Heritage Library.  Though the Health Sciences Library participated in MHL’s Sloan Foundation and NEH funded digitization projects, the size of these items precluded them being digitized at that time.


From the Albinus anatomy.

Bernhard Siegfried Albinus’ monumental anatomical atlas of 1749, Tabulae Sceleti et Musculorum Corporis Humani [Plates of the Skeleton and Muscles of the Human Body], is one of the best-known works in the history of anatomy. It features striking engravings of human skeletons standing before tombs, cherubs, and the first living rhinoceros to reach Europe.

Another volume includes two works by Jacques Gautier-D’Agoty: Anatomie de la Tête (1748) [Anatomy of the Head] and Myologie Complette en Couleur (1746) [Complete Myology in Color].  Gautier-D’Agoty was an artist and engraver, not an anatomist, and his works, while scientifically unimportant, are noted for their bold use of color and sometimes weird and fantastic images of the human body.


From the D’Agoty anatomy.

Joseph Pancoast’s Treatise on Operative Surgery (Philadelphia, 1844) is a landmark of 19th century American surgical writing.  It’s particularly noted for its excellent chapters on plastic surgery, but also contains significant sections on neurological and ophthalmic operations.  The 486 illustrations on 80 plates are known for their accuracy and detail and made this work an American medical best-seller with about 4,000 copies sold over nine years.


From the Pancoast treatise.

The digitization of these works is a collaborative effort among the Columbia University Libraries’ departments. It is part of an ongoing project to restore and repair larger quarto and folio rare books held by the Health Sciences Library’s Archives & Special Collections.  The volumes are first treated by professional conservators at Columbia University Libraries’ Conservation Laboratory. They are then digitized by the Imaging Laboratory, part of the Libraries’ Preservation & Digital Conversion Division.

Besides being accessible through the Medical Heritage Library, the volumes can be found via CLIO, the Columbia University Libraries Online Public Access Catalog.

The Health Sciences Library’s conservation project is funded by the Jerome P. Webster Endowment, bequeathed to the Library by Dr. Webster, Columbia’s first professor of plastic surgery, prominent historian of medicine, and bibliophile.

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

From the UKMHL: Digitisation at the Royal College of Physicians, London

We are grateful for the opportunity to cross-post content from the Wellcome Library’s blog about the UK MHL project! This post originally featured there on 5/13/2015.

The library of Royal College of Physicians (RCP) is delighted to be one of the ten UK partner organisations taking part in the UK-Medical Heritage Library (UK-MHL) project. Over next year, working with the Wellcome Library and the Internet Archive, the RCP will be sending books to be digitised and made available online for free.

The Royal College of Physicians was founded in 1518, which makes it the oldest royal medical college in England. The library was founded in the same year and grew mainly through donations and bequests. The Great Fire of London in 1666 destroyed much of the original collection, but the library survived and continued to grow through bequests and donations, as well as new purchases. Initially the collection was not limited to medical subjects, but from the 19th century it became focused on items relating to the work of physicians. The library is thriving today, offering access to contemporary resources for doctors and medical researchers and also historical items for those interested in the history of science and medicine. The RCP has many interesting and unique items which fall into the time period that the UK-MHL covers, 1780 to 1914.

Measuring a chart foldout

I am project coordinator for the RCP and my role is very much a hands-on one. I am charged with hunting down all the books and pamphlets which are to be sent to the Internet Archive’s scan centre. Once I have located these items and gathered them altogether, I assess their suitability for digitisation. First, I check to see how tightly an item is bound. If it is too tight and the text is curling into the gutter, then unfortunately the platform on which the digitation process takes place will not be able to capture this text. This also applies to items which are larger than the platforms, so I make sure to have a ruler with me at all times checking the width of books and their gutters.

Next, I check to make sure there are no duplicate copies. If there are some duplicates, I must make a choice as to which copy will be sent for digitation. The decision can come down to condition or how tightly the item is bound. When all these things are equal I search for other distinguishing marks such as interesting annotations or a provenance which may interest readers. For example this copy of On a haematazoon inhabiting human blood : its relation to chyluria and other diseases is signed “with the author’s compliments”.


Once all the items have been checked and assessed as being suitable for digitisation, I set about packing the volumes. We use big, sturdy crates which hold about 50 items at a time. As these items are rare books I have to ensure that they are packed very carefully and securely. Layers of plastic sheeting, foam, and bubble-wrap are used to line the crate, with extra bubble-wrap used around the volumes, filling any gaps which may result to books sliding and being damaged. I must say this was the task that I was most nervous about carrying out but now, three batches later, I feel like I have mastered the UK-MHL packing technique.

One of the perks of being so hands on with the materials is that I get to take a look at all the wonderful information contained in the books and pamphlets. The RCP has a diverse collection; subject areas cover the breadth of medical and scientific enquiry, as well as topics such as heraldry, library science, linguistics, and religious texts. I am always on the look-out for interesting pictures, trivia, dedications and commentaries, and there is no shortage of these!

I particularly enjoyed looking at the books on therapeutic baths and spa trips. We have a number of these which covered healing spring resorts all over the world, and many even had helpful maps tucked away in pockets stuck to front covers. One book which stood out for me was Dress : its sanitary aspect. A paper read before the Brighton Social Union , January 30th, 1880. The book contains pictures of healthy bodies and what can happen to bodies after some styles of fashionable clothing are worn for long periods of time.


The aim of the project is to make historical resources available for researchers so that the understanding of the intersections of medicine, science and health can be enhanced. I must say that I am expanding my own knowledge on a daily basis through working with books such as The hygiene of the mouth: a guide to the prevention and control of dental diseases which detailed the types of dental treatment which were common for children in the 19th century and why.


As the project progresses we will be sharing some of the interesting items that we uncover through Twitter and the Library and Museum Blog. The books themselves will be available in their digitised formats through the Wellcome Library catalogue, the Internet Archive and, soon, JISC Historical Books. Make sure to check back regularly as books are continuously being updated. The original books will also be available for viewing in the RCP Library reading room.

Author: Alana Farrell is Project Coordinator UK-MHL, Royal College of Physicians London.