New York Academy of Medicine Library Launches Digital Collections


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William P.C. Barton's Vegetable Materia MedicaThe New York Academy of Medicine Library announced the launch of its new digital collections and exhibits website, hosted on the open-source framework Islandora and accessible at http://digitalcollections.nyam.org/.

The new site makes it easy for the public to access and explore highlights of the Library’s historical collections in the history of medicine and public health.

The website is part of the Academy’s commitment to improving access to the Library’s collections through digitalization. “With the launch of our new digital collections and exhibits website, users across the globe will have access to an ever-growing number of important resources in the history of medicine and public health,” said Academy President Jo Ivey Boufford, MD in a press release.

The website includes a glimpse into the Library’s rare and historical collections material. In one day, high-end photographer Ardon Bar-Hama, courtesy of George Blumenthal, took photos of a subset of the Library’s collection, which are all accessible via the new website.

Visitors interested in cookery can page through the Library’s Apicius manuscript with 500 Greek and Roman recipes from the 4th and 5th centuries.

Other highlights include anatomical images from Andreas Vesalius’s De Humani corporis Fabrica and botanicals like this skunk-cabbage (Symplocarpus Foetida) hand-colored plate from William P. C. Barton’s Vegetable Materia Medica.

Also featured is The William H. Helfand Collection of Pharmaceutical Trade Cards, which contains approximately 300 colorful pharmaceutical trade cards produced in the U.S. and France between 1875 and 1895 that were used to advertise a wide range of goods in the nineteenth century. Such cards are now regarded as some of the best source material for the study of advertising, technology and trade in the post-Civil War period.

The Library will continue to launch new digital collections and exhibits, including “How to Pass Your O.W.L.’s at Hogwarts: A Prep Course,” which celebrates the 20th anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and will be launched on June 26. Two other upcoming digital projects focus on the history of the book: “Facendo Il Libro/Making the Book,” funded by the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, and “Biography of a Book,” funded by a National Endowment for the Humanities Digital Projects for the Public grant.

Photo: William P.C. Barton’s Symplocarpus Fœtida (Skunk-cabbage) provided by New York Academy of Medicine Library.

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