United States National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health

Fact Sheet
Images from the History of Medicine (IHM)


Images from the History of Medicine (IHM) is a database of  over 60,000 images in the National Library of Medicine's (NLM) historical prints and photographs collection. The collection of portraits, photographs, fine prints, caricatures, genre scenes, posters, and other graphic art illustrates the social and historical aspects of medicine from the Middle Ages to the present. Subjects range from medieval astrology to 19th century slum conditions to World War I hospitals to the international fight against drug abuse and AIDS. Most of the images in the collection are from the earlier time periods, although 20th century images are also included, the majority dating from before World War II.

Several subgroups within the database are interesting as separate entities. A collection of 6,000 wood engravings of prominent European physicians, purchased in Amsterdam in 1879, was the Library's first graphic arts acquisition. There are illustrations from landmark medical treatises, such as Vesalius' De Humani Corporis Fabrica and William Harvey's De Motu Cordis. Among the fine prints are several hundred caricatures on medical subjects by Daumier, Cruikshank, Rowlandson, and Boilly. There are patent medicine advertisements from the late 19th century and posters on contemporary issues, such as AIDS, smoking, and illicit drugs.

Internet Access

The IHM can be accessed on the Web at http://wwwihm.nlm.nih.gov/ or from the History of Medicine Division Home Page at http://www.nlm.nih.gov/hmd/ (select Research Resources, then Images from the History of Medicine).

Searching the IHM

The IHM can be searched by entering a Keyword (or term) contained in the image descriptions, or by Browsing a list of terms in alphabetical order. Keyword searches can be limited to Subject, Title, or Author, or include All categories. A Browse search displays an alphabetical list of terms in the database that most closely match the term(s) you entered. When searching by image Order Number (six digits preceded by A or B) the Browse option or the Keyword option may be used.

Under most circumstances, a Keyword search is recommended, since it searches all fields of the record. Expert searching, which permits syntax-controlled searches using complex Boolean operations, will not be recommended until updates in the database are completed. Select the Help for option for tips on searching by each method.

Ordering Reproductions of Images

Photographic reproductions and digital representations of images in the database can be obtained from Light, Inc. (address given below). When ordering an image, identify the Order Number, which is included in each record. Order directly from Light, Inc.; orders cannot be accepted by NLM.

Light, Inc.
12160-A Tech Road
Silver Spring, MD 20904-1914

E-mail: nlm.requests@yahoo.com
Phone: 301) 680-9700
Fax: 301) 680-0575

Copyright & Permissions

The Images from the History of Medicine (IHM) database is a catalog of the prints and photographs collection of the National Library of Medicine (NLM). The purpose of the database is to assist users in finding illustrative material for private study, scholarship, and research. The NLM does not own the copyright to the images in the database, nor do we charge access or permission fees for their use. We do request, however, that published images include the credit line "Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine."

Since the NLM does not own the copyright to the images, it is the responsibility of anyone using the database, or ordering reproductions based on information in it, to ensure that the use of this material is in compliance with the U. S. Copyright law (Title 17, United States Code). For more information on copyright or how to initiate a copyright search, please contact the U.S. Copyright Office at 202-707-5959 or visit their web site at http://www.loc.gov/copyright/

For more information about copyright and the collections, please see Patron Guide to Copyright and Historical Materials.

For additional information about the IHM, please contact:
Customer Services
History of Medicine Division
National Library of Medicine
8600 Rockville Pike
Bethesda, MD 20894-6075

Phone: 1-888-FINDNLM
E-mail: custserv@nlm.nih.gov

Last reviewed: 08 October 2008
Last updated: 08 October 2008
First published: 15 August 2000
Metadata| Permanence level: Permanent: Stable Content