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Kornhauser Health Sciences Library - History Collections

History Collections - Kornhauser Health Sciences Library, University of Louisville
Louisville, Kentucky 40292
United States
Katherine Burger Johnson, Archivist/Curator
(502) 852-5778
1 502-852-5775
Fax: (502) 852-1631

The University of Louisville's Kornhauser Library houses a valuable body of historical manuscripts documenting the evolution of medical training and health care practices in Kentucky during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The holdings include archives of the University of Louisville, School of Medicine from its establishment as the Louisville Medical Institute in 1837. There are also archives of four other Louisville medical colleges absorbed by University of Louisville in 1908 (Hospital College of Medicine, Kentucky School of Medicine, Kentucky University Medical Department, and Louisville Medical College) as well as records of schools of dentistry, nursing, and public health. Records of local and state hospitals, health departments, medical societies and other professional organizations are also preserved. The school records are mainly enrollment registers, catalogs and annual announcements, medical journals published by the schools, faculty articles, lectures and addresses, student notebooks, photographs, and memorabilia such as class tickets and diplomas.

The unit also makes available for research the personal papers of Kentucky physicians, dentists, pharmacists, nurses, and health administrators, many of whom have achieved national prominence in their fields. Notable among them are: S. Spafford Ackerly, Charles Caldwell, Daniel Drake, Joel Elkes, Joseph N. and Arthur T. McCormack, Gradie R. Rowntree, R. Glen Spurling, and Lansford P. and David W. Yandell. Medical bibliophile and cardiologist Emmet Field Horine donated his extensive collection of nineteenth century manuscripts and printed primary sources relating to anesthesiology. The library preserves thousands of biographical sketches, reports, notices and articles from nineteenth century newspapers and journals, and other historical manuscripts, which were transcribed by the WPA historical research project, which produced Medicine and its Development in Kentucky (1940).

In more than 150 years of operation, the library has amassed a fine collection of rare medical and scientific books and journals, antique medical and dental instruments, and other artifacts. The specially designed Joan Titley Adams History Room contains many volumes from the original medical school library --all acquired before 1850-- and book collections focusing on the history of psychiatry and phrenology. SERVICES: Located on the upper floor of the Kornhauser Health Sciences Library, the History Collections can be consulted Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. with the archivist and special collections curator available on Wednesdays, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. For more information, contact Katherine Burger Johnson, Archivist/Special Collections Curator or Mary K. Becker, Administrative Specialist, University of Louisville, Kentucky 40292, phone: 502-852-5775.


When the Louisville Medical Institute was founded in 1837, $20,000 was set aside for "books, anatomical specimens, and chemical apparatus," and a comprehensive medical library was established. When LMI became the Medical Department of the University of Louisville in 1846, the Board of Trustees had a catalogue of the holdings prepared and printed, listing a collection of over 3,200 books and journals. In December, 1856 the medical school burned and although many valuable medical books were lost, approximately two-thirds of the library or between 2,000 and 2,500 volumes were saved. These make up the core of the Rare Books Collection at Kornhauser Health Sciences Library.

The William E. Gardner Collection is a collection of over 800 publications on the subject of the history of neurology, neurosurgery, and psychiatry. It includes classics in psychiatry beginning with a book on demonology and on witchcraft. There is a copy of Benjamin Rush's first book, Diseases of the Mind, (1812), the first book published in the United States on mental diseases and disorders. With donated money, additional books on child psychiatry have been added to the collection.

Emmet Field Horine willed two collections from his vast personal library to the Kornhauser Health Sciences Library. These include publications by and about Charles Caldwell, M. D., and books and journals on phrenology, mesmerism, animal magnetism, the water cure and hypnotism. The Caldwell Collection has over 200 cataloged volumes. The other volumes relate mainly to anesthesia. Of special interest is A Treatise on Etherization in Childbirth by William Channing dating to 1848.

A noted recent addition to the Kornauser Health Sciences Library is the collection of ophthalmology books belonging to the late Arthur Keeney M. D. The total donation numbered about one thousand monographs, of which about one hundred will be housed in the History Collections. Of note is a bound set of three works by Hiernonymi Fabricii: Aqvapendente de Visione/Voce/Auditu, Venetiis, 1600.

Subject Strengths:
History of Anatomy; History of Health Regulation; History of Health Societies Departments and Associations; History of Medical Education; History of Nursing; History of Psychiatry; History of Public Health; History of Stomatology
Last Updated:
16 Sep 2016