Guide to the Research Collections




Among the 130 periodical titles in medicine listed as present in the Research Libraries, approximately 20 are in the field of medical history, such as the Archiwum historii medycyny (1964- ), the Bulletin of the History of Medicine (1933- ), and Sudhoffs Archiv (1908- ). There are also substantially complete files of the American Journal of Nursing (1900- ) and the Journal of the American Medical Association (1885- ). Journals relating to vivisection number 4 titles including the Anti-Vivisectionist (1949- ).

The library retains a few general directories of the profession, the most important being the American Medical Directory, the Biographical Directory of the American Psychiatric Association, Directory of Medical Specialists, and Medical Directory of New York State. The latest issue of these titles is on the open shelves in the Main Reading Room. Back issues are in the general collections, as are foreign directories such as the British Medical Register. The Science and Technology Research Center has selected standard dispensatories and pharmacopoeias for the use of the physical scientist. The library relies upon the major indexes of medical literature such as Index Medicus and its predecessors, Cumulated Index Medicus, and the catalogs of organizations such as the National Library of Medicine.

The history of medicine is well documented in the holdings, with a good retrospective collection. Annual reports of medical schools (primarily from the nineteenth century) and New York City hospitals are an outstanding feature, since they represent both the social and historical aspects of the subject. Reports from hospitals outside New York City and those in foreign countries are not particularly well represented. Official reports of state boards of health and medical examiners, while not complete, are present in large numbers. In addition, a number of works relating to the history of medicine, while not classified with the subject in the Public Catalog, may be found under headings such as "U.S. History--Civil War--Medical and Sanitary Affairs." There are materials on specific diseases such as tuberculosis; for the most part these are older items of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and concern the prevention of the disease. The library has collected works on syphilis, particularly those treating its supposed connection with the discovery of America. Thus the Rare Book Division holds a first edition of Girolamo Fracastoro's Syphilis sive Morbus Gallicus (Verona, 1530) which gave a name to the disease and also a copy of the rarer and more complete Rome edition of 1531. Other works of interest include those on the early treatment of syphilis such as Ulrich von Hotten's De Guaiaci Medicina et Morbo Gallico (1519). Ruy Diaz de Isla's Tractado ... contra el mal serpentina (1542) is available in a second edition; in this work the physician describes his treatment of a number of Columbus's men in Barcelona after their return from Haiti in 1493.

Beyond the items already noted, medical rarities are few. There is a treatise on popular medicine entitled Versehung von Lieb, Seele, Ehre und Gut (Nuremberg, 1489); and in the fine collection of early Mexican imprints in the Rare Book Division are four of the first eight medical books printed in Mexico City before 1600, including the first two, Alonso de la Veracruz's Phisica (1557) and Francisco Bravo's Opera Medicinalia (1570). The Arents Tobacco Collection has a number of early medical works, most from the seventeenth century; included are herbals, pharmacopocias, and books of medicine for the layman. They are described more fully in chapter 60 of this Guide. Early anatomy books in the Research Libraries are described in the section on drawing and painting resources in chapter 28.

Doctors have often entered the field of letters; a library exhibition of the published works, most from the Berg Collection, of some eighty English and American doctor/authors was held in 1964.2 Among the papers of physicians and surgeons in the Manuscripts and Archives Division are Benjamin Rush's "Observations on the Cause & Cure of the Tetanus," a paper read March 17, 1786, along with notes of lectures delivered by him in 1809 and 1810 kept by George Clark. Other papers include those of John Wakefield Francis of New York (1809-61) and Gustav Scholer (1887-1929) of New York City; in addition are miscellaneous materials such as 6 volumes of scrapbooks containing prescriptions filled at the store of Mclntyre Ewen and Son from 1857 to 1890. In 1919, Simon Gratz of Philadelphia presented the division with a collection of 61 autograph letters of eminent American physicians and surgeons covering the period 1756 to 1880. Among the names represented are Silvester Gardiner, Samuel Latham Mitchell, David Hosack, and Jacob Bigelow.3 An Arabic manuscript treatise on the human body is dated 1375; it contains one miniature and several circular marginal ornaments. The papers of Eugenie M. Heller and John Houston Finley contain material on the Red Cross during World War I. The Ingersoll-Farrell family correspondence contains the letters during 1917-18 and 1940 of Mrs. Clinton P. Farrell as president of the Vivisection Investigation League, Inc., of New York.


As has been previously noted, holdings in the field of botany are not strong. A check of the section entitled "Most Frequently Cited Serials" in Charles Harvey Brown's Scientific Serials (1956) reveals that the library has active or complete files of only nine of the first twenty-five titles, most of them in biochemistry, biophysics, or agriculture rather than in the field of botany proper. Some twelve titles in botany are currently

-------------------------------------------- page 291
available in the Periodicals Section; these are from the United States, Canada, Poland, Brazil, England, and Germany, among them items such as the Botanical Review (1935- ) and the Boletim (1944- ) of the Museo Nacional in Rio de Janeiro. The General Research and Humanities Division collects only standard reference texts of broad general interest.

Although the general research services of the library are not strong in botanical works, there are a number of rarities in the special and subject collections that should be mentioned. The Prints Division houses a few curious examples of nature printing from actual specimens, including one of the first books to be so illustrated, Christiano Gottlieb Ludwig's Ectypa Vegetalilium (1760). The division has copies of both the "lottery" or quarto and the folio editions of Robert John Thornton's Temple of Flora. It has also Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel's Das Blumenbuch (1929). The Rare Book Division's holdings in botany were enriched in 1965 by the gift of Mr. and Mrs. Pál Keleman of some forty books ranging in date from the early sixteenth century to the first quarter of the nineteenth, including the work of many of the most famous European botanists, among them Otto Brunfels. Charles de l'Écluse, John Parkinson, and J. C. Volckamer.4

Both the Arents Tobacco Collection and the Arents Collection of Books in Parts contain fine botanical books, and the collections are actively adding to the holdings. In the Arents Tobacco Collection the criterion for selection has been the mention of the tobacco plant, the earliest example being Rembert Dodoens's Crüyde Boeck (1554). Fine examples of botanical books originally issued in parts include Redouté's Descriptions des Plantes Rares et Cultivées à Malmaison (1812-17), Henry John Elwes's A Monograph of the Genus Lilium (1877-80), and John Guille Millais's Rhododendrons (1917-24).

Manuscripts are notable in the Spencer Collection's holdings of botanical works. A fifteenth-century "Tacuinum Sanitatis" ("table of health") from northern Italy contains 200 representations of plants and simples in pen-and-ink and color.5 An eighteenth-century German "Hortus Floridus" is illustrated with hundreds of watercolor drawings of plants and flowers. Among the large number of Japanese manuscripts and scrolls are herbals selected for their aesthetic, artistic, and botanical interest. The earliest of these is a manuscript scroll from 1165, "Koyaku Zukan" (Incense of Medicine). There are others produced during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.


Zoology materials are held in less strength than those for botany, although some of the early publications, particularly the materials relating to birds such as sets of Gould and Audubon works and Edward Lear's Illustrations of the Family of Psittacidae, or Parrots (1832), are of considerable importance. A check of the section relevant to zoology in Charles Harvey Brown's Scientific Serials (1956) reveals that only eight of the first twenty-five periodicals are actively collected by the library, with several of those not devoted to zoology proper but to related fields such as microscopy and biochemistry; periodicals held by the library come from the United States, Israel, Brazil, France, and England.