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Boston Medical Library

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Boston Medical Library (est. 1875) of Boston, Massachusetts, which evolved into the "largest academic medical library in the world," was originally organized to alleviate the problem that had emerged due to the scattered distribution of medical texts throughout the city.

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Early history

In 1875, the Society for Medical Observation, the Society for Medical Improvement, the Treadwell Library at the Massachusetts General Hospital, and the Public Library all had volumes of information that needed to be more accessible to physicians.[1] This was the second attempt to create a medical library in the city;[2] the first attempt was in 1805.[3] This second library was incorporated with the first "as an independent institution under the control of the profession as a whole".[1] James Read Chadwick, a gynecologist, collected books, pamphlets, and medical periodicals and make this material accessible to the practicing physician. It later became the later the Boston Medical Library (BML).[4] Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr., Parkman Professor of Anatomy and Physiology at Harvard,[2] served as the BML's first president and writer Librarian.[1]

The Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine

In 1960, the BML and the Harvard Medical Library combined their collections, to be housed in a new building named for Lever Brothers executive Francis A. Countway, [5] whose sister, after his death, gave $3.5 million of his fortune toward the library.[2]

Current developments

In 1999, the Rare Books and Special Collections Department of the Countway Library assumed custodial responsibility for the Warren Anatomical Museum, which houses the skull of Phineas Gage.[6]

The department was renamed the Center for the History of Medicine in 2004.[7] It hosts rotating exhibits about the history of medicine from the library collections. The displays are located in the lobby area and are open to the public.[8]

The New England Journal of Medicine noted that The Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine loaned out material from the 19th century in order to make the 2010 electronic-conversion of the complete journal possible as paper copies of some issues of the Journal were found missing from the Journal's own paper archive.[9]

According to the History of Medicine Division of the National Institutes of Health National Library of Medicine, The Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine is the "largest academic medical library in the world, and its collections, which have been formed over nearly two centuries, sometimes through the medical holdings of other libraries, include rare and historical materials that can be numbered among the largest in the world."[10]


Boston Medical Library comprises the following collections:[11]

See also


  1. ^ a b c Chadwick, J. R. (1903). "The Boston Medical Library". Medical library and historical journal. 1 (2): 126.122–135. PMC 1692114. PMID 18340795.
  2. ^ a b c Hawes, L. E. (1975). "Countway — A New Harvard Eponym". New England Journal of Medicine. 292 (24): 1294–1295. doi:10.1056/NEJM197506122922411. PMID 1093027.
  3. ^ Garland, J. E. (1975). "Centennial Salute to Boston Medical Library". New England Journal of Medicine. 293 (17): 874–875. doi:10.1056/NEJM197510232931712. PMID 1101056.
  4. ^ Countway Library of Medicine, Center for the History of Medicine, "About the Center,", Accessed 15 May 2011
  5. ^ "Compensation and the I.R.S.: It's not the 'Good' Old Days". Business Day. New York Times. 2010-12-01. Retrieved 2014-01-21.
  6. ^ Countway Library of Medicine, Warren Anatomical Museum (WAM), The Phineas Gage Case, Archived 2014-08-14 at the Wayback Machine, Accessed 15 May 2011.
  7. ^ Countway Library of Medicine, Center for the History of Medicine, "About the Center," Archived 2014-08-14 at the Wayback Machine, Accessed 15 May 2011.
  8. ^ "Center for the History of Medicine: Exhibits and Events". Countway LIbrary of Medicine. Retrieved 20 February 2016.
  9. ^ Campion, E. W.; Miller, P. W.; Costello, J.; Duff, E.; Drazen, J. M. (2010). "TheJournalfrom 1812 to 1989 at". New England Journal of Medicine. 363 (12): 1175–1176. doi:10.1056/NEJMe1009367. PMID 20843253.
  10. ^ Directory of History of Medicine Collections, National Institutes of Health National Library of Medicine,, Accessed 15 May 2011.
  11. ^ Archived 2012-03-05 at the Wayback Machine, Accessed March 15, 2011.
  12. ^, Accessed March 13, 2011.

Further reading

External links

This page was last edited on 5 February 2019, at 15:08
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