Solomon M. Hyams Collection of Hebraic Medical Literature

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Solomon M. Hyams Collection of Hebraic Medical Literature


In 1930, the Godfrey M. Hyams Trust presented the Boston Medical Library with $25,000 to build and maintain a collection of rare books and manuscript materials on Jewish medicine and science. Early manuscripts and a 1491 edition of the Canon medicinae of Avicenna—the only medical work to be printed in Hebrew during the 15th century—form the cornerstone of the Hyams Collection. Other rare items include first editions of the Aphorismi secundum doctrinam Galeni (1489), De astrologia (1555) and De regimine sanitatis (circa 1481) of Maimonides, the Liber Elhavi (1486) of Rhazes, early works on circumcision, and Garcia de Orta’s Coloquios dos simples, e drogas he cousas mediçinais da India—the third book to be published in India. Another jewel of the Hyams Collection is the Hand-apparat, a 4,000-item pamphlet collection of August von Wassermann (1866-1925), the German bacteriologist who worked with Robert Koch and devised a test for syphilis.

Collection Items

Sefer ‘Evronot
Calendar- and almanac-making manuals were commonly used to calculate the solar and lunar Jewish calendar. In the fourth century CE, a fixed calendar was established based on astronomical and mathematical calculations. This calendar is still used, and…

Opera Omnia Ysaac
This first printed edition of the collected works of Isaac Israeli includes the tract on fevers. The title-page woodcut depicts an impossible meeting of Isaac with his eleventh century commentators Constantine the African and Ibn Abi al-Rijal.

De Astrologia
Maimonides was probably the most famous Jewish physician of all time but known also as a philosopher, theologian, and astronomer. The De Astrologia, his letter to the rabbis of Marseilles condemning astrology, was composed in 1194; this is the first…

Doktor Bukh
This series, in 4 volumes, covers childbirth and childhood illnesses, hygiene, and first aid.

Ruach Chaim
"The Art of Prolonging Life" is the best known of Hufeland’s works, and is often cited as the origin of the concept of macrobiotics.

Ha-likhot Betah
This volume is concerned with the laws of niddah, or separation during menstruation, and taharah, ritual purification following menstruation.

Rebecca oder das Judische Weib
More on the duties of Jewish women. These pages list the holidays and fast days in the months of Av, Elul, and Tishrei. Tisha b'Av (the ninth of Av) commemorates the two occasions on which the Temple was destroyed (587 BCE and 70 CE). Elul is a month…

Gedenkbuch "Chewra Kadischa"
This volume commemorates the Hevra Kaddisha, or Jewish burial society, in several districts of Vienna during the years 1864-1905. The Hevra Kaddisha performs an invaluable service to the Jewish community. It is charged with ensuring that the dead…

Doctor Perplexorum
Maimonides' philosophical treatise on Judaism takes a rationalist perspective while embracing the Jewish mystical tradition, albeit in a limited way. The first of the 3 books examines the attributes of God and rejects the trend toward…

Hanahatan va-Halitsatan Shel Tefilin
A thesis, delivered and defended publicly, on the laws surrounding the use of phylacteries, or tefillin. Deuteronomy 6:5-8: "And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might. Take to heart these…
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