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History of the Health Sciences : Historical Collections

About the Historical Collections

The Historical Services unit at the Ebling Library maintains one of the preeminent collections of rare and older health sciences books in the country. Ranging in date from the late fifteenth century to the early twentieth century, the collection encompasses the development of western medicine and related disciplines as it is recorded in books, journals, and pamphlets.

Titles in the collection can be found by searching the Library Catalog, where their location is identified as "Ebling Historical Vault." Guidelines for access to these materials can be found below in Using the Collections.

The rare book collections have been amassed over time in large part due to generous donations from benefactors. Their contributions continue to represent some of the best items in the collection, and they illuminate general subject strengths, such as anatomy and vaccination, which we continue to collect. The collections have also grown through the timely purchase of major groups of materials, made possible by further donations and skillful pursuit by former health sciences librarians, like Helen Crawford. For a look at a few of these collections and the stories behind them, choose from the links below:



Using the Collections

The Historical Reading Room is open to all who need comfort, quiet, and a place to study or to use Ebling Library’s historical resources. 

If you are in need of an item listed in the Library Catalog that indicates “Ebling Library Historical Vault” please complete our online form. The item will be retrieved for you to consult in the Historical Reading Room. If you are visiting us in person, there are Vault request forms in the Historical Reading Room which you may use to request items.

Historical Services provides access to rare books and documents that are often fragile and in need of special handling to ensure their preservation. If you are using historical materials in the reading room, we ask that you observe the following guidelines:

  • No food or drink is allowed.
  • Only pencils are to be used for note taking.
  • Never make marks or notations in the material.
  • Materials never circulate or leave the Historical Reading Room.
  • If you are in need of scans or photocopies, they will be made by the staff. Slips will be provided to mark the pages you would like reproduced.
  • When you have finished consulting an item, it should be returned to the staff.

Exhibits or lectures may occasionally affect the hours of the HRR, but generally our hours will reflect the hours of the building.