. . . Skip to main content

History of Medicine: Treasures @ NML

This guide provides information on our rare books and history of medicine resources.

Request a Visit

Come see these works and more in person between 9 and 5 Monday through Friday

Selected Rare Book Room Treasures

ALBINUS, Bernhard Siegfried, 1697-1770. Tables of the skeleton and muscles of the human body. London, J. and P. Knapton, 1749.  
Albinus was one of the greatest anatomical illustrators of the eighteenth century; his illustrations of the bones and muscles were noted for their beauty and their accuracy and his work established a new standard in anatomical illustrations. He is said to have spent 24,000 Dutch florins on the production of the illustrations for the above work. --Garrison-Morton 399
Useful Link


ARETAEUS, fl. 2d century (?) Libri septem, nun primum e tenebris eruti a Junio Paulo Crasso ... accuratissime in Latinumn sermonem versi. Venetiis, Apud Juntas, 1552.
Aretaeus left many fine descriptions of disease. Garrison ranks him second to Hippocrates in this respect. Includes the first account of diabetes, to which Aretaeus gave its present name. -- Garrison-Morton 22
Digital Version

ASTRUC, Jean, 1684-1766. De morbis veneris libri sex
. Venetiis, Apud Jo. Mariam Lazzaroni, 1741.
Considering the period in which it was written, this is an admirable and comprehensive book on venereal disease. It includes a careful review of the existing literature. First published in Paris in 1736, it was translated into English in 1737 and went through several editions. He recognized the quiescent period of syphilis, described leukodermia and spontaneous fracture of syphilitic bones. He follwed Van Swieten's treatment in the use of mercury. -- Garrison-Morton 5195

BARTHOLIN, Thomas, 1616-1680. De nivis usu medico observationes varia ... De figura nivis dissertatio; cum operum authoris catalogo. Hafniae, Typis Mattiae Godicchii, 1661.
The medical uses of snow in the treatment of disease.

BEAUMONT, William 1785-1853. Experiments and observations on the gastric juice, and the physiology of digestion. Boston, Lilly, Wait, 1834.
First Edition: Plattsburgh, 1833. Beaumont, an American Army surgeon, reported the results of his work on the gastric fistula produced by a gunshot wound in Alexis St. Martin, a young Canadian half-breed. The investigations covered a period of eight years, 1825-1833. With this human medium, he was the first to study digestion and the movements of the stomach in vivo. -- Garrison-Morton 989
Digital Version (Note: Digital version is from 1838 edition)


BELL, Sir Charles, 1774-1842. An exposition of the natural system of the nerves of the human body. Philadelphia, Carey & Lea, 1825.
This is the American edition of a work published in London in 1824. It includes the republication of the papers delivered to the Royal Society, on the subject of the nerves. Bell's physiology of the nervous system was given in 6 papers presented to the Royal Society from 1821 to 1829. This volume includes the first four, from July 12, 1821 to Jan. 19, 1823. His description of the nerves which now bear his name-- the internal and external respiratory nerves--was published in the first of these articles. This represents his greatest contribution to science and the real work of his life. Digital version from 1827
Digital Version


BELL, Sir Charles, 1774-1842. A system of dissections, explaining the anatomy of the human body. Edinburgh, Mundell and Son, 1798-1803. Two volumes in one. 30 plates.
Bell began this work in 1797, as a 23-year-old medical student. It is a remarkable work for a mere youth. The beautiful drawings of his dissections, the clear descriptive text, the careful instructions of methods of work, show the maturity of genius. -- Garrison-Morton 402


BELL, Sir Charles, 1774-1842. Discourses on the nature and cure of wounds. 2d ed. Edinburgh, Mundell and Son, 1800. Two vols. in one.
This is the 2d edition of a work which first appeared in 1793-1795. Vol. I covers wounds in general; Vol. II particular wounds. The work is dedicated to Erasmus Darwin, grandfather of Charles.


BELL, Sir Charles, 1774-1842. Engravings of the bones, muscles, and joints; illustrating the first volume of the Anatomy of the human body. 3rd ed. London, Longman, 1810.
This is the separate book of engravings to illustrate the text. John Bell wanted drawings of "subjects int hose very shapes and postures in which they were explained". He decried "figures, which are supposed to be drawn truly from the anatomical table, are formed from the imagination of the painter merely; sturdy and active figures, with a ludicrous contrast of furious countenance and active limbs, combined with ragged muscles and naked bones and dissected bowels, which they are busily employed in supporting,..." In drawings made for student use, the body should be laid out as in dissection.


BERTIN, René-Joseph-Hyacinthe, 1757-1828. Traité des maladies du coeur et des gros vaisseaux. Paris, J.B. Bailliere, 1824.
This is a very rare copy of this early treatise on heart disease. The designations "concentric" and "eccentric" hypertrophy came from Bertin's work.
Digital Version


BRAMBILLA, Joannes Alexander. Instrumentarium chirurgicum militare. Vienna, Schmidt, 1781.
Extremely rare first edition. It gives an exact survey of the surgical knowledge of the times, more complete than any other. Illustrations of surgical instruments are represented in natural size.


BRIGHT, Richard, 1789-1858. Reports of medical cases, selected with a view of illustrating the symptoms and cure of diseases by a reference to morbid anatomy. Vol. I. London, Longman, 1827.
Bright studied medicine at Edinburgh, Berlin and Vienna and taught clinical medicine at Guy's Hospital with Addison. In this first volume of reports, Bright showed the importance of morbid anatomy in the the study of disease. He gave the first account of chronic non-suppurative nephritis, the disease known by his name. Bright supervised the drawing and engraving of the fine illustrations himself. This volume is exceedingly rare.


CAMPER, Pieter. Demonstrationum anatomico-pathologicorum. 2 vols. in one. Amstelaedami, Joann Schreduer et Petrum Mortier, 1760-62.

The representations are nearly life-size and were designed for the practical use of surgeons.


CAREY, Mathew, 1760-1839. A short account of the malignant fever, lately prevalent in Philadelphia. 4th ed. Philadelphia, printed by the author, January 16, 1794.
This small book went into several editions in a few months. Carey, a well-known publisher, served for a time as a member of the committee of citizens. An Early American imprint. After 1793's Yellow Fever epidemic in Philadelphia, printer Mathew Carey widely distributed this pamphlet accusing the black community of robbing the houses of the sick or those, like Carey, who fled the city to avoid the disease. Digital version is just full text.
Digital Version

CARSWELL, Sir Robert, 1793-1857. Pathological anatomy. Illustrations of the elementary forms of disease. London, Longman, 1838.
Carswell was professor of morbid anatomy at University College, London, and one of the leading English pathologists of his day. His great pathological atlas, containing plates selected from 2,000 water-colours painted and lithographed by himself, has never been surpassed. -- Garrison-Morton 2291
Useful Link


CRUICKSHANK, William Cumberland, 1745-1800. The anatomy of the absorbing vessels of the human body.  2nd ed.; considerably enlarged, and illustrated with additional plates. London, G. Nicol, 1790. 5 plates.
With William Hunter and William Hewson, Cruikshank laid the foundation of modern knowledge concerning the lymphatics. He was Dr. Johnson's physician and William Hunter's assistant at the Great Windmill Street School of Anatomy. Here he gives a detailed account of the lymphatic vessels, their coats and valves, and describes the lymph glands.


CRUVEILHIER, Leon Jean-Baptiste, 1791-1874. Anatomie pathologique du corps humain. Paris, Baillière, 1829-1842. 2 vols.
The fine illustrations of gross pathology make this one of the greatest works of its kind. Cruveilhier, first professor of pathological anatomy in Paris, gave the first descriptions of disseminated sclerosis, hypertrophic pyloric stenosis and ulceration of the stomach due to hyperacidity. Because many of the conditions shown here are not found illustrated elsewhere, this work is still useful in teaching.


CORVISART DES MAREST, Jean Nicolas, Baron, 1755-1821. Essai sur les maladies et les lesions organiques du coeur et des gros vaisseaux. 2nd ed. Paris, H. Nicolle, 1811.
The first edition of the Essai appeared in 1806, went through several French editions, was translated into English. For many years it was an authority and stands today as one of the best examples of clinical description based upon bedside observation and pathological finding. Corvisart really created cardiac symptomatology and made possible the differentiation between cardiac and pulmonary disorders. He was first to explain heart failure mechanically and to describe the dyspnoea of effort.
Digital Version 


DUVERNEY, Guichard Joseph, Traite de l'organe de l'ouie, contenant la structure, les usages & les maladies de toutes les parties de l'Oreille. Paris, Michallet, 1683.
One of the truly great books in the history of Otology. "First scientific account of the structure, function and diseases of the ear. Duverney showed that the bony external meatus develops from the tympanic ring and that the mastoid air cells communicate with the tympanic cavity. It was Duverney who first suggested the theory of hearing later developed by, and accredited to, Helmholtz." --Garrison-Morton 1545


ESTIENNE, Charles, 1504-1564. La dissection des parties du corps humain diuisée en trois liures. Paris, Simon de Colines, 1546.
Estienne was a descendant of the famous family of printers of the same name. He received his medical degree in Paris in 1542, where he studied under Sylvius, who also taught Vesalius. This work was completed up to the middle of the third book in 1539, four years before Vesalius published his Fabrica, but work was halted by a law suit. As finally published in Latin in 1545, the introduction credits Riviere with the dissections and the illustrations. The French translation appeared in 1546. This is the first published work to include illustrations of the whole external venous and nervous system. Estienne's most important new anatomical idea: the description of the central canal of the spinal cord.


GRAAF, Regnier de, 1641-1673. De mulierum organis generationi inservientibus. Lugduni Batavorum, Hackiana, 1672.
"De Graaf demonstrated ovulation anatomically, pathologically and experimentally. In the above work he included the first account of the "Graafian follicle." -- Garrison-Morton 1209


GRAAF, Regnier de, 1641-1673. De virorum organis generationi inservientibus, de clysteribus et de usu siphonis in anatomia. Lugduni Batavorum, Hackinana, 1668.
"Exact and detailed account of the male reproductive system." -- Garrison-Morton 1210 Graaf accounts his success in inducing an erection in a corpse by injecting water into the hypogastric artery, an important scientific experimental outcome for the time.


HARVEY, William, 1578-1657. The anatomical exercises of Dr. William Harvey, professor of physick, and physician to the Kings Majesty,concerning the motion of the heart and blood. With the preface of Zachariah Wood. To which is added Dr. James De Back his discourse of the heart... London, Frances Leach for Richard Lowndes, 1653.
English translation of De motu cordis "the most important book in the history of medicine." -- Garrison-Morton 759 First book to accurately describe the circulation of blood in the body, by one of history's most important anatomists.
Digital Version


HILL, John, 1716-1775. The British herbal, an history of plants and trees, natives of Britain, cultivated for use, or raised for beauty. London, T. Osborne, 1756.
This attractive volume contains 75 hand colored engravings of plants and trees. Hill was apprenticed to an apothecary at an early age and later set up his own shop in London. While employed in the arrangement of gardens and collections of dried plants, he travelled over the country in search of rare plants. One of the first herbals to appear after 1753, the year considered the beginning of modern botanical nomenclature. Hill also criticizes his contemporary, Linnaeus. Beautifully illustrated and engraved by Hill himself.


HOOKE, Robert, 1635-1703. Micrographia: or some Physiological Descriptions of Minute Bodies made by Magnifying Glasses. London, J. Martyn, 1665.
This is the first edition of the first book published in English on the microscope. It contains many accurate illustrations of insects, pollen, moss, seeds, etc., all drawn by Hook himself. He was responsible for the introduction of the word "cell," having observed in cork "little boxes or cells distinct from one another." His method of illuminating opaque objects was to concentrate the light of a small oil-lamp, first through a glass globe filled with water, and, after that again, through a convex lens. -- Garrison-Morton 262

 
HUNTER, John, 1728-1793. A treatise on the blood, inflammation, and gun-shot wounds. London, E. Cox, 1812. 2 vols.
Reprint of the 1794 edition, his last work, published the year after his death. It was while serving with the army at Belle Isle during the Seven Years War that Hunter collected the material for his epoch-making book on wound management. His studies on inflammation in particular are fundamental for pathology.
Digital Version


HUNTER, William, 1718-1783. Anatomia uteri humani gravidi tabulis illustrata. The anatomy of the human gravid uteris exhibited in figures. Birmingham, John Baskerville, 1774.
"Contains 34 copper plates depicting the gravid uterus, life-size. This is William Hunter's best work and one of the finest anatomical atlases every produced, "anatomically exact and artistically perfect" (Choulant). -- Garrison-Morton 6157 Hunter was known for not using forceps, and for being the go-to midwife to London's upper crust, including King George III's wife Charlotte. A classic of both medicine and book production, Hunter spent more than 25 years and quite a bit of money producing this atlas, printed by John Baskerville, considered the best English printer of the era.
Digital Version


LEEUWENHOEK, Anthony van, 1632-1723. Arcana naturae. Delphis Batavorum, Henricum a Krooneveld, 1695, 1697. Two volumes in one.
Leeuwenhoek was one of the greatest microbiologists of all time. This is part of the collection of his most important writings. He saw protozoa and bacteria and was probably also the first clearly to observe red blood cells. -- Garrison-Morton 98 Leeuwenhoek also observes and describes protozoa and spermatozoa, and proves living organisms must always derive from parents of their own-species, no spontaneous generation.
Digital Version


MACEWEN, Sir William, 1848-1924. Pyogenic infective diseases of the brain and spinal cord. Glasgow, J. Maclehose, 1893.
Macewen's greatest work was in connection with the surgery of the brain. In the above book he included extensive case reports of 65 patients under his care, with details of operative procedures. -- Garrison-Morton 4872 Macewen is considered one of the founders of neurological surgery. A student of Lister, Macewen advocated antiseptic techniques. His case studies include his work with brain abscesses and meningitis.
Digital Version


MALPIGHI, Marcello, 1628-1694. Opera omnia. London, R. Littlebury, 1687. Two volumes in one.
Malpighi was the founder of histology and one of the great microscopists. In 1660 he was the first to see the capillary anastomosis between the arteries and the veins, thus helping the completion of Harvey's work on the circulation. -- Garrison-Morton 66 Malpighi is also known for being one of the first researchers to use experiments in biological discovery. This compilation includes a tract on silkworm anatomy (first on an invertebrate), the discovery of capillaries, the first description of embryonic development of a chicken, and classics of plant and lung anatomies.


MASCAGNI, Paolo, 1752-1815. Prodromo della grande anatomia, seconda opera postuma. Firenze, Marenigh, 1819. Tavole figurate de alcune parti organiche del corpo umano, degli animali e dei vegetabili.
This work, edited by Antommarchi, was published posthumously. It contains 20 copperplates, drawn and engraved by Serantoni, on the textures of the organs of animals and plants. It contains a great number of figures, most of which were intended to illustrate Mascagni's view as to the vascular nature of the texture of organs. Beautifully printed.


MASCAGNI, Paolo, 1752-1815. Vasorum lymphaticorum corporis humani historia et ichnographia. Senis, Pazzini Carli, 1787.
"Mascagni was an Italian anatomist who taught anatomy and physiology at Siena, Pisa, and in the hospital of Santa Maria Nuova at Florence. This extensive work on the lymphatics made him lastingly famous. It contains 138p. of text and forty-one copper engravings in folio, fourteen of which were linear copies of finished prints. The artist was Ciro Santi (Cyrus Santius) of Bologna." -- Garrison-Morton 1104


MASSACHUSETTS MEDICAL SOCIETY The pharmacopoeia of the Massachusetts Medical Society. Boston: E. & J. Larkin, 1808.
The first pharmacopeia issued in America.


MAURICEAU, Francois, 1637-1709. The diseases of women with child, and in child-bed... translated by High Chamberlen, by whom this 2d ed. is reviewed, corrected and enlarged... London, John Darby, 1683.
"The outstanding textbook of the time. Mauriceau, leading obstetrician of his day, introduced the practice of delivering his patients in bed instead of in the obstetrical chair. -- Garrison-Morton 6147 Many firsts of women's medicine, including first discussions of puerpal fever, tubal pregnancies, and how to prevent congenital syphilis.
Digital Version


MEAD, Richard, 1673-1754. A short discourse concerning pestilential contagion, and the methods to be used to prevent it. London, S. Buckley, 1720.
The great Mead was asked for advice concerning the plague, and replied with this tract. It was afterwards expanded into a book and is almost a prophecy of what was to develop as the English public health system. -- Garrison-Morton 5123


MILTON, Massachusetts A collection of papers relative to the transactions of the town of Milton, in the Massachusetts, to promote a general inoculation of the cow pox, or kine pock, as a never failing preventive against small pox infection. Boston, J. Belcher, 1809.
Early American imprint. Part of the literature on the controversy concerning the value of vaccination.


NUCK, Anton, 1650-1692. Adenographia curiosa et uteri foeminei anatome nova. Lugduni, Batavorum, Apud Jordanum Luchtmans, 1691.
"Nuck was a Netherlands surgeon and teacher of anatomy and surgery at The Hague and Leyden. His interest in the inguinal canal developed from his efforts to explain the pathogenesis of inguinal hernia in women. This work contains his description of a diverticulum, a shallow, peritoneal invagination in the female homologous to the processus vaginalis in the male, which now bears his name: "Nuck's canal." Nuck is known for his studies on glands and the lymphatic system. Another chapter of this work contains the first description of the lymphatic network of the ovary."  -- Garrison-Morton 1213


RAYER, Pierre Francois Olive, 1793-1867. Traité des maladies des reins. Paris, Baillière, 1837-41. 3 vols., and atlas, with 60 plates.
"Rayer was a celebrated French urologist who has been called "the father of kidney pathology." His great treatise on diseases of the kidney is a milestone in the history of the subject. The illustrations in the atlas volume are true to nature, good in color and life-size. It is comparatively easy to recognize the correct diagnosis. Some conditions rarely illustrated are included, such as echinococcus cysts of the kidney." -- Garrison-Morton 4208


REGIMEN SANITATIS SALERNITANUM Regimen sanitatis salerni. This boke teaching all people to gouerne them in helth, is translated out of the Latyne tonge in to englyshe by Thomas Paynel, which boke is amended, augmented, and diligently imprinted. London, Thomas Berthelet, 1535.
Third edition in English. The Regimen consists of a string of very sensible dietetic and hygienic precepts, dedicated in the several imprints, to the King of England, in most of the manuscripts to the King of England, in most of the manuscripts to the King of France. It passed through some 240 separate editions, including Irish, Bohemian, Provencal and Hebrew. Very rare.


SANTORINI, Giovanni Domenico, 1681-1737. Anatomici summi septemdecim tabulae quas nunc primum edit atque explicat iisque alias addit de structura mammarum et de tunica testis vaginali. Michael Girardi. Parmae [Giovambattista Bodoni] 1775.
First edition of one of the rarest and most beautiful of the few medical books published by the famous Bodoni press. A pupil of Malpighi, Santorini was Professor of Anatomy and Medicine in Venice from 1703 to 1728. He made valuable observations on the muscles of the face, larynx and penis. He described the accessory pancreatic duct.


SCARPA, Antonio, 1747-1832. Anatomicarum annotationum liber primus. De nervorum gangliis, et plexubus. et liber secundus de organo olfactus. Ticini Regii, 1785.
A pupil of Morgagni, Scarpa began publishing papers on anatomical subjects at the age of twenty. Later he was Professor of Anatomy at Pavia. Scarpa was a good Latin scholar and an excellent draughtsman. He contributed to the knowledge of surgery of hernia, to orthopedics, and to ophthalmology. He distinguished true from false aneurysms.



SIMPSON, Sir James Young, bart. 1811-1870. Anaesthesia, or the employment of chloroform and ether in surgery. Philadelphia, Lindsay & Blakiston, 1849.
In an attempt to find an anaesthetic less irritating than ether, Simpson discovered the advantages of chloroform. He was the first to use it in obstetrics.

SMELLIE, William, 1697-1763. Tabulae anatomicae. Accedit earundem explicatio cum Brevi de arte obstetricia. Translated by Georg Leonhart Huth. 2d ed. Nürnberg, Seeligmanns, 1789. 

Text in Latin and German. Translation of A Sett of Anatomical Tables, with Explanations...which appeared in 1754. Smellie was a dominant figure among 18th Century obstetricians. He invented many obstetrical instruments, including midwifery forceps with a simple lock. In this edition, Smellie's famous plates are re-engraved by Seeligmann.
Digital Version 


SPIEGEL, Adriaan Van, 1578-1625. De Humani Corporis Libri Decem. / CASSERIO, Giulio, 1552-1616. Tabulae Anatomicae. 89 plates.
Bound in one volume, folio, original vellum, engraved title pages. 1st edition, Daniel Bucretius, 1627. Includes some of the finest copperplates produced in the 17th century. Contains first adequate description of spinal muscles. Text and explanatory descriptions of the plates written by Van Spieghel, last of the great Vesalian line of Padua University anatomy professors. His name is associated with Spiegelian lobe of the liver. Casserio, teacher of William Harvey, was responsible for the original plates. He turned them over to Spigelius, who combined the text material with the plates for publication.
Digital Version

STOKES, William, 1804-1878. The diseases of the heart and the aorta. Dublin, Hodges and Smith, 1854.
Stokes was a leader in the Dublin school of medicine although he received his medical education at Glasgow and Edinburgh. He first established his reputation as a clinician in 1837 with his book on diseases of the chest. This treatise on heart diseases contains his account of fatty degeneration of the heart, in which he so well described the periodic form of respiration now known as "Cheyne-Stokes breathing," and the first description of paroxysmal tachycardia. -- Garrison-Morton 2760


UNDERWOOD, Michael, 1737-1820. A treatise on the diseases of children. 4th edition. 3 vols. London, J. Mathews, 1799.

First mention in a treatise on diseases of children of congenital heart disease. -- Garrison-Morton 6326


VESALIUS, Andreas, 1514-1564. Opera omnia anatomica et chirurgica, cura Hermanni Boerhaave et Bernhardi Siegfried Albini, Tom. I., II. Lugd. Batav., apud. Joann, du Vivie et Joann. et Hermann Verbeek, 1725

This beautiful and elaborate edition of Vesalius is based on the 2nd folio edition of the Fabrica of 1555. The majority of the illustrations are copperplates but a few of the smaller are woodcuts. Typography of this edition is excellent; the plates skillfully engraved by Wandelaar.


WILLIS, Thomas, 1621-1675. Cerebri anatome: cui accessit nervorum descriptio et usus. London, Jo. Martyn & Ja. Allestry, 1664.

The most complete and accurate account of the nervous system which had hitherto appeared. In its preparation Willis was helped by Lower, and its illustrations are by Sir Christopher Wren. Willis's classification of the cerebral nerves held the field until the time of Soemmerring. The book includes the first description of the "circle of Willis," and of the eleventh cranial nerve ("nerve of Willis"). Willis recognized the sympathetic system and accepted the brain as the organ of thought. -- Garrison-Morton 1384


WILLIS, Thomas, 1621-1675. Opera omnia. Venice, Jo. Malachinum, 1720. Two volumes in one.
A collected edition of his works was first published in Geneva in 1680. In the "Pharmaceutice rationalis" section, Willis described diabetes mellitus for the first time. All  physicians up to the time of Willis included all diseases in which the quantity of urine was increased under the term "diabetes." In this book Willis was the first to notice that cases of wasting disease in which this symptom was associated with sweetness of the urine formed a distinct group, and thus may justly be regarded as the discoverer of diabetes mellitus.
Digital Version 

Subject Guide

Megan Rosenbloom's picture
Megan Rosenbloom
Contact:
USC Norris Medical Library

2003 Zonal Ave

Los Angeles, CA 90089-9130

P: 323.442.1134