Special Collections in the Health Sciences

Last week I had the interesting task of creating an inventory of books that were originally donated by a retired professor. Many of the books were historic textbooks from the late nineteenth to early twentieth centuries. I couldn’t resist peeking inside a few, much to my fascination and dismay. Want to assure yourself that time travel would not, indeed, be fun? Read a medical textbook from the 1920s; we’ve come a long way since then.

But there were also a few amazing finds that I couldn’t resist sharing with my readers. First off, the opening image from The Modern Apothecary: A Compendium in Four Parts (1941), which is a drawing of the “prescription department of the Wade Drug Company, Cleveland, Ohio.”

The book comes in its own hardback case, presumably for pharmacists on the go!

And the other interesting finds, which were slightly harder to inventory as they were never actually published, were a set of day-books used by a doctor (or multiple different doctors) from the 1880s to the 1920s. They are fascinating primary documents that the donor must have picked up at auction or an estate sale somewhere. Each details the patients, number of visits, paid status, and sometimes specific ailments.

I’d love to have more information about them, but I suppose that will be up to the librarians in the Special Collections department.

It’s always a pleasure when archives and special collections pop up in unexpected places. Though I did end up with red rot all over my hands and pants (from resting the spines on my legs as I typed the inventory). Learned my lesson on that one!


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