Guide to the Research Collections
This is one of the exceptionally strong collections of the library, numbering over 17,000 volumes. It represents the sociological, rather than the medical, aspects of the subject. Strong in standard works, histories, and primary materials, the resources do not include much secondary material such as textbooks.
The holdings of serials, including journals and the publications of health organizations, congresses,
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and special bureaus, are unusually extensive. Generally complete files of the more important titles are supplemented by an interesting representation of those which are secondary.
Another feature of great importance because of its extent and completeness is the collection of reports and other publications of national, state, and especially municipal health departments. The library's collecting policy is comprehensive for the publications of United States federal agencies, and those of New York State and City. United States resources are the most complete, but there is a very good representation of foreign materials.
The collection on such special topics as smoke regulation, working conditions, and disposal of the dead range from adequate to strong. Works on the purely medical aspects of public health are not extensive. Vital statistics, on the other hand, are thoroughly covered as a subject; hygiene of school buildings is adequately represented. Materials on food adulteration are held in strength. The library comprehensively acquires materials on the social and economic implications of air, water, and soil pollution. Those phases of public health which concern engineering are well documented.
Sanitation has long been a subject of interest. Notable early accessions were received in 1878, when the United States Sanitary Commission deposited its papers with the Astor Library, and in 1882 with a gift of $12,000 from J.J. Astor used in part to fill important needs in the collections dealing with sanitary science.