United States National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health

Archives and Modern Manuscripts Program

  • About the Archives and Modern Manuscripts Program

    The NLM Archives and Modern Manuscripts Program oversees the collection and administration of archives and modern manuscripts that relate to the history of medicine. The collections include approximately 10,000 linear feet of material dating from the 17th century to the present. The collections are made up of organizational records and personal papers, oral histories, diaries, lecture notes, pharmacopoeias, herbals, treatises, and dissertations. Topics include the history of military medicine, biomedical science, and public health and disease. Also included are the internal records of NLM and other organizations relating to medical librarianship and medical informatics.

    Please note that most records of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) are in the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).

    The Archives and Modern Manuscripts Program is administered by the NLM History of Medicine Division (HMD).  The program has four distinct areas of emphasis.

    • Archives and Modern Manuscripts Collection

      The Archives and Modern Manuscripts Collection consists of organizational records and personal papers documenting medical practitioners, biomedical scientists, health policy planners, and medical societies, predominantly American, from ca. 1850 to the present. Strengths of the collection include military medicine, public health and health policy, mental health, child development, and molecular biology. Significant collections include personal papers of former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, the Group Health Association archives, and the papers of Nobel Prize-winning scientists, particularly those connected with NIH.

    • Bound and Folio Manuscripts

      Bound and folio manuscripts are chiefly 18th century materials consisting of lecture notes, recipe books, hospital logs, and other discrete items, often with European or eastern U.S. provenance. These manuscripts supplement the Library’s medieval manuscripts and book collections.

    • Oral History Collections

      Oral history collections, chiefly from the 1970s to the present, consist of interviews with physicians, scientists, health policy administrators, and health-business executives.

    • Medical Librarianship and Informatics

      Medical librarianship and informatics collections include institutional archives, the papers of NLM Directors, including NLM founder John Shaw Billings, and records and oral histories of the Medical Library Association (MLA).

    • Program History

      The NLM manuscripts collection began in the 19th century as a collection of incidental manuscript items, chiefly relating to American medicine and public health. By the middle of the 20th century, the collection had grown to include a significant number of Western and Islamic medical manuscripts. A distinct modern manuscripts collection was established in 1962. By 1965 the Library had hired its first Curator of Modern Manuscripts and began actively soliciting donations of personal papers and society records. By 1976 holdings included 236 processed collections, which grew to over a thousand collections by 1999, comprising about 6,000 linear feet of cataloged materials.

    Back To Top *

  • How to Search Archives and Modern Manuscripts

    Search for processed Archives and Modern Manuscripts collections in the Library catalog LocatorPlus. See also Guides to Collections.

    • LocatorPlus Search Tips

      Quick limits:
      1. Choose "HMD Collection" keyword anywhere search;
      2. Use " " to search for exact phrases
        example: "yellow fever"
      Advanced Search:
      1. Click "Limit" button screen bottom right
      2. Choose "Item Type" as manuscript or mixed material
      3. Choose "Location" as HMD Collection
      4. Click "Set Limits"
      5. Enter search terms

    Back To Top *

  • How to Access and Use Archives and Modern Manuscripts

    Request material onsite from the Archives and Modern Manuscripts Collection through the Library catalog LocatorPlus. Items are retrieved on the hour and are consulted in the History of Medicine Reading Room.

    Original material from the Archives and Modern Manuscripts Collection cannot be borrowed through interlibrary loan. Limited photocopying is possible.

    Back To Top *

  • Contact Archives and Modern Manuscripts

    John P. Rees, Curator
    E-mail: reesj@mail.nih.gov
    Phone: (301) 496-8953
    Fax: (301) 402-7034

    James Labosier, Associate Curator
    E-mail: labosij@mail.nih.gov
    Phone: (301) 402-8819
    Fax: (301) 402-7034

    • Mail forms to:

      James Labosier, Assistant Curator
      Archives and Modern Manuscripts Collection
      History of Medicine Division, Bldg. 38, Rm. 1E-21
      National Library of Medicine
      8600 Rockville Pike
      Bethesda, MD 20894

    Back To Top *

Last reviewed: 07 August 2008
Last updated: 05 November 2008
First published: 23 April 2004
Metadata| Permanence level: Permanent: Dynamic Content