Online Resources from the National Library of Medicine’s History of Medicine Collection

The National Library of Medicine (NLM) houses one of the world’s largest history of medicine collections. The History of Medicine collection documents health and disease in all time periods and cultures through manuscripts, books, photographs, and films. There are a variety of materials available online, here are a few highlights:

Images from the History of Medicine

There are some 70,000 images in the History of Medicine collection – including portraits, photographs, caricatures, genre scenes, posters, and graphic art illustrating the social and historical aspects of medicine dated from the 15th to 21st century from around the world. It’s a fantastic resource for private study, scholarship and research. Some images protected under U.S. or foreign copyright laws.

Turning the Pages 

Using advanced 3D computer generated imagery and innovative software programing you can enjoy rare works of antiquity at home or in the classroom. Explore the beauty of the world’s oldest surviving surgical text; travel back in time to view the world from 13th century Islamic perspective, and peruse one of the most influential anatomy works in Western medicine. Select titles are available for iPad viewing.

Online Exhibitions and Digital Projects

There are numerous exhibitions that are available virtually with instructional resources for middle and high school students and teachers. Learn about communities around the world working in collaboration with scientists, government leaders and international organizations to address disease; explore the history of forensic medicine and the science behind unexplained or suspicious death fact-finding; discover the many contributions women have made to the practice of medicine; and explore the human body beneath the skin, in all its anatomical glory. For teachers and educators, there is a brochure with lesson plans, learning games and career information.

Profiles in Science 

Explore the leaders in biomedical research and public health. Each scientific profile contains significant life and work documents – including text, audiotapes, video clips, photographs and scientific papers. Discover leaders in cellular biology, genetic, and biochemistry, and understand issues of research policy, science education, and the impact of computers on compiling and analyzing data.

For more information visit the History of Medicine website.

[Dana Abbey, Health Information Literacy Coordinator, National Network of Libraries of Medicine, Midcontinental Region]