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Boston Medical Library

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Boston Medical Library
Boston Medical Library

The Boston Medical Library (est. 1875) of Boston, Massachusetts, was originally organized to alleviate the problem that had emerged due to the scattered distribution of medical texts throughout the city. It has evolved into the "largest academic medical library in the world".[1]

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.[2] This was the second attempt to create a medical library in the city;[3] the first attempt was in 1805.[4] This second library was incorporated with the first "as an independent institution under the control of the profession as a whole".[2] 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).[5] Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr., Parkman Professor of Anatomy and Physiology at Harvard,[3] served as the BML's first president and writer Librarian.[2]

The Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine

In 1960, the BML and the Harvard Medical Library combined their collections. It was housed in a new building named for Lever Brothers executive Francis A. Countway,[6] whose sister, after his death, gave $3.5 million of his fortune toward the library.[3]

Current developments

In 1999, the Rare Books and Special Collections Department of the Countway Library assumed custodial responsibility for the Warren Anatomical Museum. Among its holdings is the skull of Phineas Gage,[7] whose life after a traumatic brain injury contributed significantly to medical science.

The department was renamed the Center for the History of Medicine in 2004.[5] 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] As of 2019, however, exhibits are closed while the Library undergoes a renovation; the building is slated to reopen in 2021.[9]

According to the History of Medicine Division of the National Institutes of Health's 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."[1] 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 possible, as paper copies of some issues of the Journal were found missing from their own archive.[10]


Boston Medical Library includes the following collections:[11]

See also


  1. ^ a b "Directory of History of Medicine Collections: Center for the History of Medicine, Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine, Harvard University". History of Medicine. U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health. Retrieved 11 April 2020.
  2. ^ 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.
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ a b "About the Center". Harvard Countway Library. Countway Library of Medicine, Center for the History of Medicine, Harvard University. Archived from the original on 19 July 2013. Retrieved 15 May 2011.
  6. ^ "Compensation and the I.R.S.: It's not the 'Good' Old Days". Business Day. The New York Times. 1 December 2010. Retrieved 21 January 2014.
  7. ^ "Warren Anatomical Museum (WAM): The Phineas Gage Case". Countway Library of Medicine. Archived from the original on 14 August 2014. Retrieved 15 May 2011.
  8. ^ "Exhibits and Events". Countway Library of Medicine. Harvard University. Archived from the original on 3 November 2014. Retrieved 20 February 2016.
  9. ^ Gustainis, Emily Novak (July 2019). "Renovation: Shaping a New Library – Taking Care, July 2019". Harvard Countway Library. Countway Library of Medicine, Center for the History of Medicine, Harvard University. Retrieved 11 April 2020.
  10. ^ Campion, E. W.; Miller, P. W.; Costello, J.; Duff, E.; Drazen, J. M. (2010). "The "Journal" from 1812 to 1989 at". New England Journal of Medicine. 363 (12): 1175–1176. doi:10.1056/NEJMe1009367. PMID 20843253.
  11. ^ "FACTS & FIGURES 2009–2010". Harvard Medical School. President and Fellows of Harvard College. 2012. Archived from the original on 5 March 2012.
  12. ^ "The National Archives of Plastic Surgery". Plastic Surgery in Boston: Then and Now. Countway Library of Medicine, Harvard University. Archived from the original on 24 August 2012.

Further reading

External links

This page was last edited on 23 July 2020, at 16:40
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