AHA Today

Vaulted Treasures: Digitized Medical Books from UVA

Elisabeth Grant | Mar 30, 2009

William Harvey, illustration on blood circulation

“Inside a climate-controlled vault at the University of Virginia Claude Moore Health Sciences Library are treasures. Not gold or silver or precious stones, but printed treasures, all published between 1493 and 1819. Some are small pocket-sized volumes only a few inches tall. Others are massive: the largest weighs in at 18 pounds and has a cover that exceeds four square feet. Some consist of only the written word. Others contain exquisite illustrations of the human body or fanciful landscapes.”

This opening paragraph on the Vaulted Treasures site stirs up a feeling of curiosity and wonder.  How exciting to enter the vault at the University of Virginia Claude Moore Health Sciences Library and experience the treasures that lay within.

But for those who can’t make the trip to Charlottesville, just make a stop online to view high quality digital images from 50 books in the collection. Start with an introduction to the site to learn about the progression of printed medical books. The first medical books, most published after 1470, printed ancient texts, like the works of from Hippocrates, Galen, and Aristotle.

The Vaulted Treasures site groups authors and their works into three time periods:

Only a few pages of each book are showcased on the site. Once you’ve had a look, a trip to the Library might be in order after all.

This post first appeared on AHA Today.

Tags: AHA Today Archives Digital History Culture History of Science


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