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History of Medicine and the Sciences in Library Special Collections

Toward Ethical and Inclusive Descriptive Practices in UCLA Library Special Collections

LSC is committed to remediating harmful description by creating and implementing an anti-oppressive approach to discovery and access. We aim to:

  • Be clear about what we know, how we know it, and what we don't know
  • Embrace baseline description as a tool to improve the discoverability of all our materials
  • Demonstrate an understanding that description is a continuous and necessarily iterative endeavor

Read more about our past and current approaches to description in Toward Ethical and Inclusive Descriptive Practices in UCLA Library Special Collections.

Archivists and Librarians in the History of the Health Sciences (ALHHS)

Databases for the History of Medicine

Images on the Web - People, Places, and Things

History of Medicine Collections of Medicine Collections

The various collections of the History and Special Collections Division support the study of the history of medicine and biology. Collections consist of books, journals, manuscripts, prints, portraits, and medical artifacts. For further assistance in locating manuscripts, prints, portraits, or other artifacts, please inquire in the division.

Our goal is to have an online record for every book, journal, manuscript, manuscript collection, artifact, print, and portrait in the collection and where appropriate, to make selected content available on the web.

Books and Journals in the History of Medicine and Biology

Visit UC Search. Almost all of the books and journals (this includes rare books, and journals, reference works, and histories and biographies) held by the History and Special Collections Division may be found using UC Search. A few special collections of books are described below.

UCLA Library Acquires Historical Collection of Medical Texts
The UCLA Library has acquired a historical collection of books and journals from Germany, primarily medical texts in the field of otorhinolaryngology. The materials were originally in the private library of Dr. Cäsar Hirsch, a specialist in the field, who was forced to leave all his belongings behind when he and his family fled Germany in 1933. 

Prints, Portraits, and Artifacts

Currently, detailed information about these collections is available only in the History Division. Many of the images are recorded in a card catalog located in the Division.

Museum Artifacts

Although small, the Division's museum collection contains artifacts that provide insight into the practice of medicine in different eras. Surgeon's instrument cases, microscopes, scarifiers, thumb lancets, anesthesia masks, phrenological heads, cupping instruments, and glass eyes all bear witness to ideas and practices of the past.

Collection Highlights

Digital Projects

Aids Posters Collection Aids Posters Collection - "Aids Apple"

The UCLA Library launched an online collection of more than 600 AIDS posters from countries around the world on Friday, December 1. The release of this digital project has been scheduled in conjunction with World AIDS Day. “The collection provides a fascinating insight into the many approaches that have been used to try to modify risk behaviors,” said Roger Detels, MD, MS, UCLA professor of epidemiology and infectious diseases. “The posters range from terrifying to amusing and reflect the many cultures from which they have been drawn, which include national cultures and risk group cultures. The collection should be of interest to anyone interested in the history of the HIV/AIDS epidemic and attempts to control it.” The physical collection is held in the Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library History and Special Collections.

Spices - Exotic Flavors and Medicines

Spices - Exotic Flavors and Medicines is an online exhibit exploring the history of spices from their earliest uses to current research. Through text and image, the topic is explored indepth. Irwin Ziment, Profesor Emeritus of Clinical Medicine, UCLA, researched and wrote the narrative in conjunction with the History & Special Collections Division.

The Index of Medieval Medical Images (IMMI)

The Index of Medieval Medical Images project began in 1988 and aimed to describe and index the content of all medieval manuscript images (up to the year 1500) with medical components held in North American collections. The goal of this 2001 pilot project was to make the descriptions and the images available via a searchable database on the Web.

Indexing the Web

These sites aim to list, index, or inventory the great variety of material appearing on the Web that relates to the history of medicine and science.

Library Catalogs