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History of Medicine Collections: Getting Started

History of Medicine Collections at Duke

The Duke University History of Medicine Collection acquires, preserves, interprets, and makes available for research and instruction, materials documenting the history of medicine, biomedical science, health and disease in the global context of the Western medical tradition. The collection seeks to bring historical perspectives to bear on contemporary health issues and to facilitate an interdisciplinary understanding of the history of medicine.

The collection consists of over 20,000 rare and unique medical books and journals.  Print items are augmented by several thousand manuscripts and numerous medically related instruments, artifacts, prints, photographs, and ephemera.  Two major gifts helped form the HOM Collections. In 1931, the Georgia Medical Society of Savannah donated its library of 8,000 volumes to Duke University. Another major donation which brought a new level and depth to the collection was the donation by Mrs. Mary DBT Semans of the Trent Collection in 1956. This collection includes 4,000 volumes and 2,500 manuscripts, as well as unique artifacts.

Please note this is merely a guide to materials availalbe from the History of Medicine Collections in the Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library. Please see the Reference Sources tab for resources that summarize the history of medicine in general.

Related Collections

Also housed within the Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library are many other collections that will appeal to those interesrted in studying the history of medicine. Be sure to view research guides availalbe from the Sallie Bingham Center for Women's History and Culture, the Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising, and Marketing History, the John Hope Franklin Research Center, and the Human Rights Archive as these all have potentially relevant collection items for history of medicine scholars.

Chinese Medicine Doll

History of Medicine Librarian

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Rachel Ingold
History of Medicine Collections
Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Medicine Bottles