2015 Partner Institutions: The Center for the History of Medicine

The Boston Summer Seminar (BSS) blog has been profiling the four sites at which BSS participants are invited to conduct research during their residency in Boston. We hope these profiles will encourage you in your exploration of each institution’s holdings, and prompt helpful conversations with the Seminar Director and Seminar Archivists in preparing your proposal. In the final installment of this series, we take a look at the Center for the History of Medicine.

The Boston Summer Seminar is pleased to have as one of its inaugural partners the Center for the History of Medicine at the Francis A. Countway Library of Harvard Medical School.

The Countway Library is an alliance between the Boston Medical Library (founded in 1805) and the Harvard Medical Library (founded in 1782). From the Boston Medical Library came one of the largest collections of medical incunabula (books printed in the first fifty years after the production of the Gutenberg Bible) in the world, the medical libraries of Oliver Wendell Holmes and Friedrich Tiedemann, the Kennedy Collection of Early English Medical Books, and the Hyams Collection of Medical Judaica. From the Harvard Medical Library came such holdings as the library of the Warren family, the manuscripts of Benjamin Waterhouse, the Historical Collection in Radiology, and the extensive archives of Harvard Medical School. The Center for the History of Medicine assumed custodial responsibility for the Warren Anatomical Museum in 1999. It was given its present name, Center for the History of Medicine, in 2004 in recognition of the integrated nature of its activities, collections, and audiences.

The Center holds one of the world’s leading collections in the history of medicine, public health, the biosciences, and health care. Online guides to a small selection of the historical collections can be found here. (BSS groups may also want to note the hours and access page.) Center materials are also discoverable via HOLLIS+, Harvard’s combined library catalog, and OASIS, the university’s archival and manuscript material access system.

You can check out recent news about collections and events at the Center’s blog and see a selection of digitized materials here. You can also follow the Center on Twitter.

~ Hanna Clutterbuck-Cook

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