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.

The Migel Library Joins the MHL

M.C. Migel keeps watch over the collection from above the original card catalog.

M.C. Migel keeps watch over the collection from above the original card catalog.

The Medical Heritage Library is pleased to announce the addition of titles from the Migel Library of the American Printing House for the Blind.

The M.C. Migel Library at the American Printing House for the Blind is one of the largest known collections of materials related to visual impairment in the United States.  The library holds over 20,000 items that range in scope from original research to fiction with characters or authors who are visually impaired.  While a majority of the collection is historical, we continue to acquire large numbers of new and relevant items in various formats.  The collection includes journals, agency reports, proceedings, organizational newsletters, and a large amount of non-English language materials.  The Library is also unique in that it contains thousands of individually cataloged periodical articles that are not thought to be organized by the subject of visual impairment anywhere else.  The Migel Library’s online catalog includes items from the Barr Research Library at APH.  The Barr Library began in the 1970s as a collection of materials used or authored by the Research Department at APH.  As a result, many of its 4,500 items are unique manuscripts that were researched and created at APH.

The Migel Library was started as a circulating collection at the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) in New York in the 1920s.  A reference library for the field was a major priority of AFB’s first director, Robert Irwin.  In 1926, the AFB board granted him $1,000 to start the collection.  Book donations flooded in from around the country at such a rate that Irwin needed to hire a full time librarian, Helga Lende, in 1929.  Lende’s knowledge of the German, French, Spanish, and Scandinavian languages was essential to developing such an inclusive collection – especially considering the amount of blindness research coming out of Europe following the First World War.  Lende’s 1940 bibliography Books About the Blind gives a sense of not only the popular literature being collected, but also many unpublished masters’ and doctoral theses in the Migel holdings.  By the time Helga Lende retired in 1964, the library had become one of the largest collections in the world in its area of specialty.  The Library was named after philanthropist Moses Charles Migel in 1963.  Having been inspired by his experiences with blinded soldiers while serving with the Red Cross in World War I, Migel helped found AFB in 1921, and headed their board until 1945. The general stacks of the Migel Library were formally transferred from AFB to the American Printing House for the Blind in Louisville, KY, in 2009.

Helga Lende, Librarian from 1929 to 1964.

Helga Lende, Librarian from 1929 to 1964.

Digitization of materials began in 2010 as a limited, grant-based project consisting of our most significant items.  Thanks to further funding through APH, we have been able to pursue a continuous digitization program for the foreseeable future.  We are reviewing the stacks item-by-item to digitize every eligible volume.  This includes the small pamphlets and articles that, while unique, were passed-over during the first phase of the project in the interest of efficiency.  Our Internet Archive page now includes 2,270 items and we are steadily adding to the number. All future items will be automatically tagged as part of the MHL and thus made available through the MHL’s Internet Archive page, as well forming part of the corpus for the MHL’s full-text search tool and Bookworm.

Annotated photo album, Industrial Home for the Blind, Light Buoy Industries, ca. 1928.

Annotated photo album, Industrial Home for the Blind, Light Buoy Industries, ca. 1928.

About the MHL: The Medical Heritage Library (MHL) is a digital curation collaborative among some of the world’s leading medical libraries, promoting 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, all of which are available here through the Internet Archive.


New to the MHL!

Check out some of the latest additions to our collection!

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

While We Were Out…

…new items were being added to our collection steadily! Here are a few:

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