The collections of the Center for the History of Medicine enable researchers to contextualize, understand, and contribute to the history of human health care, scientific medical development, and public health. Collections are open to all and reflect nearly every medical and public health discipline, including anatomy, anesthesiology, cardiology, dentistry, internal medicine, medical jurisprudence, neurology, obstetrics and gynecology, pharmacy and pharmacology, psychiatry and psychology, and surgery, as well as variety of popular medicine topics and public health subjects such as industrial hygiene, nutrition, and tropical medicine. Through the Center, researchers have the opportunity to use the rich historical resources of both the Harvard Medical Library and Boston Medical Library.

The Center is home to the Warren Anatomical Museum. Founded in 1847, the Museum collection includes anatomical artifacts, pathological specimens, instruments, and other objects.

Our collections include:

  • Archives and manuscripts, including the personal and professional papers of prominent American physicians, Harvard faculty and biomedical researchers, the records of medical organizations and health care institutions, and the institutional records of Harvard Medical School (founded 1782), Harvard School of Dental Medicine (founded 1867), and Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health (founded 1922).
  • Rare books and journals, with particular depth in medical incunabula, mendicant literature, European books printed from the sixteenth through the nineteenth century; and American (particularly New England) medical imprints of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
  • Sound and moving image materials, including films, audio recordings, and oral histories.
  • Visual materials and artifacts, including prints, photographs, portraits, fine art, satires, instruments, machines, and medals.
  • Anatomical, osteological and fluid preparations.

Open access to digitized and born digital resources is available through several channels:

  • OnView, the Center's primary portal to digitized content and exhibits
  • Medical Heritage Library, online access to thousands of rare books, journals, pamphlets, and other items digitized as part of the Medical Heritage Library, Inc.'s consortium
  • Hollis Images, a selection of digitized photographs, lantern slides, satires, and other visual materials that are part of Harvard's Digital Repository Service
  • Dataverse, Research data available from Center collections
  • Archive-It, online access to websites archived by the Center
  • DASH, the depository for Harvard's electronic theses, dissertations, and scholarly publications

Learn more about searching for Center collections.