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History of Medicine Collections: Rare Books and Manuscripts


Along with incunabula (books printed before 1501), the History of Medicine Collections also feature a wealth of rare print materials, such as Andreas Vesalius's De humani corporis fabrica, a hand-colored copy of the first edition of Georg Bartisch's Opthalmodouleia, and a first edition of De motu cordis by Sir William Harvey 

Books and Journals

The History of Medicine Collections contains over 20,000 rare print items including books and journals. Please use the online catalog to search for items related to your research topic or interest.

You may search by

- Author

- Title

- Keyword

- Subject Heading

Advanced Search Option: To limit your search to materials in Special Collections, select the "Advanced Search" page of the catalog, click the drop down box under the Location heading on the right side of the page, and choose "Special Collections" from the list.

Manuscript Collections

The following are just a few examples of manuscript collections pertaining to the history of medicine. You can search the catalog for manuscripts or search our collection guides by keyword.

Bailey Daniel Webb papers, 1845-2003 and undated, bulk 1950s-2003. Early female graduate of Duke University School of Medicine (M.D., 1946) and pediatrician in private practice in Durham Co., N.C., 1949-1987. Includes Webb's 1941 doctoral thesis and other school records (1925-1933); as well as binders and scrapbooks compiled by Webb detailing her youth and schooling, private practice and hospital career, international trips, and Durham history, chiefly in community medicine and governance.

Caleb Budlong physician's account books, 1817-1843, 1915 and undated.

Dorothy Whitlock papers, 1948-1989 and undated. The Dorothy Whitlock Papers span the dates 1948-1989 and derive from Whitlock's work as an occupational therapist and medical illustrator. The Dorothy Whitlock Papers span the dates 1948-1989 and derive from Whitlock's work as an occupational therapist and medical illustrator.

History of Medicine picture file, 1523-2002 and undated. Thousands of images portraying physicians, scientists, nurses, and other individuals related to the history or practice of medicine. Places featured include hospitals and other institutions of medicine, and scenes related to events in medical history. Subject categories include advertising, anatomy, books, caricatures, childbirth, embryology, medical instruments, pediatrics, physicians, and surgery. The predominant formats are engravings, lithographs, print materials, and modern photographic prints, but there are also albumen photographs, negatives, and other image formats

Josiah C. Trent papers, 1852-1961, bulk 1944-1950.U. S. thoracic surgeon and rare book and manuscript collector. The Trent papers consist mostly of correspondence and notes for and drafts of published and unpublished research and articles. The collection also includes miscellaneous printed material, photographs, and lecture notes taken as a medical student

Lincoln Hospital (Durham, N.C.) Records, 1901-1998 and undated. Durham, N.C. hospital established in 1901 Dr. Aaron Moore, Dr. Stanford Warren, and John Merrick to serve African Americans in the area.The Lincoln Hospital Records span the years 1901-1998, and primarily comprise the institution's administrative and medical files.

Philip Turner papers, 1751-1858, 1881 and undated. Turner (1740-1815) was a noted surgeon from Connecticut and New York. The Philip Turner Papers Collection spans from 1751 to 1858 and contains correspondence, military hospital returns, printed material, and ledgers documenting Philip Turner's career as a surgeon in private practice in Norwich, Connecticut and New York, New York, in the Continental Army, and in the United States Army

Trent history of medicine manuscripts collection, [1588?], 1661-1994 and undated, bulk 1750-1980.The Trent History of Medicine Manuscripts Collection is an artificial collection made up of 780 manuscript collections with a focus on the history of medicine or medical practice in the United States and Europe. The collections were acquired by physician and rare book and manuscripts collector Dr. Josiah Trent of Duke University. The collections range in date from a possible 1588 date to 1994, with the bulk dating from the 1750s-1980s 

William H. Helfand collection of medical prints and posters, 1695-1991, bulk 1800-1899. William Helfand is a scholar of pharmaceutical history and art, and collector of ephemera and art related to medicine. The William H. Helfand Collection of Medical Prints and Posters consists of 34 prints and posters realted to the history of medicine and pharmacology, dating from 1695 to 1991, with the bulk of the prints dating from 19th century

Mansur Manuscript


The History of Medicine's manuscript collection includes letters, diaries, lecture notes, physician day books, and account ledgers. The collection covers items as diverse as a seventeenth century copy of a late fourteenth century Persian treatise on anatomy to global health collections such as the Mara de Bruyn papers.  Also represented are large collections of manuscripts by Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Waterhouse, Pliny Earle, Silas Weir Mitchell, and Ellis Herndon Hudson.