Written By: Marlinda Gallardo
Edited By: Adina Vega and Michelle Sosa

Have you ever wondered: Who were the first recorded conjoined twins and what did their skeleton look like? How long has vegetarianism been practiced and promoted? How did astrology influence medicine in the 15th and 16th centuries? All of your wildest medical questions can be answered among the archives of the Historical Medical Library at The College of Physicians of Philadelphia.

Image of the exterior of the Historical Medical Library

Established in 1788, the Historical Medical Library (HML) was built to serve Phiadelphia’s medical schools, hospitals, and physicians. Today, it is an independent library dedicated to the history of medicine and the medical humanities. The library is proud to house both a physical and digital collection. The Historical Medical Library’s physical collection of early printed books includes over four hundred editions before 1501. Their archives and manuscripts include the archives of other Philadelphia medical institutions, the College’s corporate archives, letters, case books, and student notebooks that document doctors’ personal lives and professional practice in the Philadelphia region and worldwide. The Historical Medical Library’s digital collections consist of images drawn from their own collection and can be viewed by anyone anywhere in the world.

As an added bonus, HML has its very own museum, The Mütter Museum, which displays its beautifully preserved collections of anatomical specimens, models, and medical instruments. The museum is open to the public to visit, and their collection is made available to search digitally through HML’s website. *Warning: Visiting this site is not for the faint of heart.

Image of the exterior of the Historical Medical Library

The Historical Medical Library is indeed a key player of a historical organization with a contemporary mission. It shares its wealth of medical knowledge with the world in an effort to cure diseases, promote immunization, and prepare for pandemics. The Historical Medical Museum is focused and dedicated to tying the threads of history and the traditions of medicine together. After all, we cannot know where we are going if we do not know where we have been.

Categories: iSchool SLA


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