United States National Library of Medicine
National Institutes of Health
History of Medicine

Directory of History of Medicine Collections


The College of Physicians of Philadelphia,
Historical Library and Wood Institute

Archive; Library; Museum
19 South 22nd Street
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19103-3097
United States
Annie Brogan, College Librarian
(215) 399-2304
1 215-563-3737
Fax: (215) 569-0356

The College of Physicians of Philadelphia is the largest independent research library devoted to medical history in the United States. In addition to the holdings accumulated while the College Library served as the central medical library of Philadelphia (19th and 20th century monographs and journals), the library also has extensive holdings of rare books, manuscripts, and prints and photographs, as well as the archives of the College and those of other medical organizations, local and national, extant and extinct. SERVICES: Access to the various collections; historical and bibliographic references; extended historical research (there is an hourly charge for this service); no microfilming services; photocopying at the discretion of the Library staff.

Finding aids to manuscript and archive collections:
Sturgis Collection of Medical Images database and the Historical Medical Digital Library (HDML) are accessible from the home page.


The Library contains over 250,000 books and journals published before 1966. More than 400 are incunabula, and more than 12,000 are pre 1801 imprints. Strong holdings in anatomy, surgery, dermatology, neurology, embryology, pathology, and ophthalmology. Particularly rich collections in homeopathy, tuberculosis, and yellow fever. Manuscripts number over one million items and include medieval illuminated manuscripts, hundreds of 18th- and 19th century student lecture notes, and the papers of leaders in American medicine, including Robley Dunglison, George Bacon Wood, S. Weir Mitchell, Joseph Leidy, William Williams Keen, and Edward Bell Krumbhaar and Francis Clark Wood. Archives of a number of medical societies and institutions can be found in the Library. The Library also houses the archives of the American Association for the History of Medicine and the archives of the College of Physicians in Philadelphia (founded in 1787). Finding aids at the Web address above. Prints and Photographs: A portrait/picture catalogue containing over 100,000 cards represents reproductions in books and journals, as well as original prints and photographs. Includes the Samuel B. Sturgis collection and the Faber Family collection of medical illustrations. Special Collections: the William H. Helfand-Samuel X Radbill Medical Bookplate Collection (10,000+ bookplates), Samuel D. Gross Library of Surgery, Joseph T. Freeman Gerontology Collection, Samuel Lewis Curio Collection, William Kent Gilbert Autograph Collection, Medical Trade Ephemera Collection (over 7,000 items), and Joseph Carson Collection.

Online Systems: Books are entered in OCLC; archives and manuscripts in RLIN. The Library's online catalog can be accessed at above Web address. The Sturgis Collection of Medical Images database and the Historical Medical Digital Library (HMDL) are accessible from the home page. Guides to the Collection: A Catalogue of the Manuscripts and Archives of the Library of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia (1983); Lisabeth M. Holloway, "The Historical Collections of the Library..." in Transactions and Studies of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, 4th ser. 41 (1974): 151-162; Thomas A. Horrocks, "As Far as the Eye Can See: Ophthalmology in the Historical Collections of the Library...", T & S, 5th ser. 11 (1989): 37-49; Horrocks and Jack Eckert, "Manuscript Resources in Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry in the Historical Collections of the Library...", T & S, 5th ser. 12 (1990): 93-101.

Subject Strengths:
History of Anatomy; History of Dermatology; History of Embryology; History of Epidemiology and Infectious Diseases; History of Homeopathy; History of Medicine; History of Neurology; History of Ophthalmology and Optometry; History of Pathology; History of Psychiatry; History of Surgery
Last Updated:
02 Apr 2020