Warren Library

Description

In 1928, the library of Harvard Medical School received a magnificent bequest from Dr. John Warren (1874-1928) of 2,000 medical books, pamphlets, and manuscripts, assembled by five generations of the Warren family of Boston. Ranging from the earliest days of printing to the start of the 20th century, the Warren Library contains some of the rarest and most significant works in the history of medicine and surgery, including titles by Andreas Vesalius, William Harvey, William Hunter, Joannes de Ketham, John Hunter, Ambroise Paré, and Celsus, along with ten incunables.

Both a working professional collection and a leisure-time resource, the Warren Library reflects the tastes, occupations, and preoccupations of its owners. Dr. John Collins Warren contributed a significant collection of pamphlets related to the development and use of ether as an anesthetic—hardly surprising given his role as the surgeon in the groundbreaking first public operation at the Massachusetts General Hospital in 1846. The published writings of the Warrens themselves are all represented in the collection. A number of Warren Library books bear presentation inscriptions from their authors to members of the family. A small handful even have a succession of family signatures on their title-pages or flyleaves, as the books passed from one generation to the next, over the course of a century and a half. Many of the volumes also carry versions of the distinctive Warren bookplate with the family’s coat of arms depicting a rearing lion on a shield. This device became the basis for the seal of Harvard Medical School.

Items in the Warren Library Collection

In 1850, after some years of dormancy, the Boston Phrenological Society's collection of casts and skulls was sold to Dr. John Collins Warren and later added to the specimens of the Warren Anatomical Museum at Harvard Medical School. This is Dr.…

While Holmes' views on homeopathy are well attested, this letter to Dr. John Collins Warren (1778-1856) indicates he had at least some early interest in the concurrent phrenological movement. Holmes here invites Warren to attend his lecture on the…

After the petition to resign of one of its homeopathic members, Isaac Colby of Salem, the Massachusetts Medical Society appointed a committee, including Oliver Wendell Holmes, to consider the question of homeopathy and whether its practitioners…

The thirteenth-century Italian scholastic, Petrus de Abano, translated Hippocrates, Galen, and many other classic Greek medical texts into Latin. His major work, the Conciliator differentiarum [Reconciler of the Differences Between Philosophers and…

In addition to being a detailed examination of plants native to the United States with their medicinal uses, American medical botany is the first publication in this country to employ a color printing process for its plates, using an innovative…

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