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Visual Repositories for the History of Medicine: History of Medicine Collection Resources

History of Medicine Materials

History of Medicine Artifacts Collection

Collection of historical medical instruments and artifacts, art objects, realia, and other three-dimensional objects related to the history of medicine, primarily originating from Europe and the United States, but including some artifacts from China and Japan.

History of Medicine Picture File
The History of Medicine Picture File holds thousands of small and large images organized into series for individuals, places, and subjects related to the history of medicine and medical practice.

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. Paris, France is the provenance for many of the posters, but several hail from England and the United States.

Ivory Anatomical Manikins

Ivory Manikins from the Dr. Josiah Charles Trent Collection Artifacts, approximately 1650-late 19th century

We have a number of ivory anatomical manikins in the History of Medicine Artifact Collection, all of which are from the Dr. Josiah Charles Trent Collection. The manikins are highly intricate and often contain moveable, miniscule ivory organs. Many of the female figures include a fetus. The manikins are on a rotating display in the Josiah Charles Trent History of Medicine Room.  

Featured Ivory Anatomical Manikins

Female manikin with ivory pillow on wooden couch covered in green brocade, 17th or 18th century

France, Germany or Italy. Articulated, detachable plate, separate organs, with fetus. 

Male (7.1) and female (7.2) manikins with ivory pillows on carved wooden couch with ivory ball feet, 17th or 18th century

France, Germany or Italy. Articulated, detachable plate, separate organs. Female manikin includes a fetus.

The Four Seasons

The Four Seasons
The Four Seasons are unique, 17th-century copperplate engravings from the Trent Collection that were digitally reconstructed from more than 200 photographs in order to reproduce the experience of lifting the multilayered flaps and volvelles to reveal various anatomical dissections.

A metaphor for the stages of human life, the prints illustrate not only human anatomy but are replete with allusions to alchemy, astrology, astronomy, botany, geography, palmistry, physiology, uroscopy and zoology.

Virtual Exhibits


Anatomical Fugitive Sheets

Anatomical fugitive sheets provide an early interactive model for looking inside the human body. The History of Medicine Collections have a total of ten such anatomical fugitive sheets dating from the early-sixteenth to mid-seventeenth centuries. The digital collection allows users to interact with the fugitive sheets by virtually lifting their flaps.

Malignant Fever 

This exhibit highlights the effects of epidemic diseases on society by examining one of the most famous outbreaks in U.S. history – the 1793 yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia. Drawing chiefly on letters written by Dr. Benjamin Rush, an eighteenth-century physician and U.S. Founding Father, to his wife Julia Stockton Rush, the exhibit examines the timeline of the outbreak, early responses, stages and symptoms, and the “cure” for yellow fever that Rush developed.

Animated Anatomies

Explores the visually stunning and technically complex genre of printed texts and illustrations known as anatomical flap books. These publications invite the viewer to participate in virtual autopsies, through the process of unfolding their movable leaves, simulating the act of human dissection.

Anatomical Flap Books

Anatomical Flap Book Collection Records

Anatomical flap books feature interactive human anatomy illustrations. These illustrations utilize paper flaps and pop-ups of superimposed colored plates to simulate a 3D dissection of the human body.

Featured Flap Books