The Collections of the Countway Library
Virtually all of the great works in the history of medicine can be found in the Countway’s Center for the History of Medicine. There are particular strengths in medical incunabula—over 800 books printed before 1501—European books printed from the sixteenth through the nineteenth century, and English publications before 1800. The Countway also holds a comprehensive collection of American, particularly New England, medical imprints of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. A number of significant special collections have been acquired, notably the libraries of physicians Oliver Wendell Holmes and John Collins Warren and his family, the anatomical library of Friedrich Tiedemann, the Solomon M. Hyams Collection of Hebraic Medical Literature, and the William Norton Bullard Collection of medical incunabula. The Countway’s collections are particularly rich in the diverse subject areas of anatomy, gynecology and obstetrics, radiology, medical jurisprudence, surgery, psychology, phrenology, medical botany, pharmacy and pharmacology, and internal medicine.
The Countway also collects manuscripts and personal papers of physicians from the medieval and Renaissance periods through the twentieth century, including the professional papers of many renowned Harvard faculty members as well as physicians and scientists from New England and around the country, notably Walter Bradford Cannon, Jacob Bigelow, Clarence J. Gamble, Henry Pickering Bowditch, John Collins Warren, Stanley Cobb, James Jackson Putnam, and Benjamin Waterhouse.
In addition to the manuscript collections, the Countway preserves and maintains the archives—the official minutes, correspondence, reports, publications, and other records—of the Harvard Medical School, School of Dental Medicine, and School of Public Health. The Countway also serves as a repository for the archives and official historical documents of many other medical institutions and organizations, including the Massachusetts Medical Society, the New England Röntgen Ray Society, and the Dorchester Medical Club, and houses the collections which form the National Archives of Plastic Surgery.
The Center for the History of Medicine holds a print and photographic collection of some 100,000 items, along with other works of fine art, such as the painting First Operation under Ether by Robert C. Hinckley, portraits by Gilbert Stuart and Rembrandt Peale, the Manfred Kraemer Collection of Medical Prints and Satires, and the Horatio R. Storer Collection of Medical Medals.