Rhode Island Medical Society (RIMS) Library

Two important groups of rare or unusual materials collected by the Rhode Island Medical Society in its 175 years can be found in Special Collections at the Hay Library.

The first group comprises the contents of the Society's De Jong Rare Book Room plus titles selected from its general collection. Here are medical classics such as Pliny's Historia Naturale (Venice, 1501), Galen's works (Venice, 1525), Avicenna's Liber Canonis (Venice, 1555), Vesalius's De Humani Corporis Fabrica (Amsterdam, 1642) and works by Celsus, Harvey, Boerhaave, Pare, Morgagni and Osler along with other authoritative texts including the ubiquitous Anatomy, Descriptive and Surgical (London, 1858) of Henry Gray. The collection includes numerous 18th and 19th century medical tracts published in America from Nicholas Culpeper's Pharmacopoeia Londinensis (Boston, 1720) to the "ether controversy" of the 1850's and beyond. There is also a substantial selection of pamphlets dealing with homeopathy, hydropathy, naturopathy and other less orthodox medical doctrines more frequently practiced in the 19th century.

The second group consists of the Society's own records, and includes a collection of historically significant antique medical instruments, given to the Society by William James Burge, M.D. (1831-1921), a fellow of the Society since 1874, as well as by other members of the Society over the course of many decades.

Supplementing these historical medical materials are two associated literary collections compiled by physicians, the James Henry Davenport collection (comprising books on medical history, medical biography and the extra-curricular writings of physicians), and the personal library of Providence Superintendant of Health Charles Value Chapin (consisting primarily of Greek and Latin classics in English translation).

Format(s): Books, Museum Objects
Library: John Hay, Collections Annex
Contact(s): Richard_Noble@brown.edu
Contact(s): Holly_Snyder@brown.edu

Access to the collection:

Online Catalog (JOSIAH):
Individual records for most printed materials available on JOSIAH
RIMS Records

Related Collections:
Chapin (Charles V.) Personal Library
Davenport Collection

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