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By-laws and Records of Books Borrowed


Held at: Historical Medical Library of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia [Contact Us]19 S. 22nd Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Historical Medical Library of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

Established in 1791, the Library of the College of Physicians was Philadelphia's central medical library for over 150 years, serving medical schools, hospitals, physicians and other health professionals. Today, it is an independent research library devoted to the history of medicine and serves hundreds of scholars, health professionals, students and popular writers each year.

In addition to its historical research resources, over the last half century the library has been involved in several medical library consortiums, providing both resources and administrative support to these projects. Some of these include: Mid Eastern Medical Regional Library Service (MERMLS), Medical Document Service (MDS), Health Science Library Consortium (HSLC), and Consumer Health Information Network (CHINET). These organizations aim to spread knowledge for the benefit of medical research and public health. The Library has also played a key role in providing material for exhibitions and publications by the College of Physicians. Rare books from the library stacks are regularly put on display for visitors, and images from their collections are reproduced for publications. The Library has kept consistent records of its functions from the 1960s until the early 2000s. These records not only include user requests, correspondence, and grant applications, but also the papers of several library directors throughout this period. In the Library Collection are the papers of the following directors: Anthony Aguirre, Ellen Gartrell, Charles Greifenstein, Lisabeth M. Holloway, Thomas A. Horrocks, Andrea Kenyon, Edward Morman, Christine Ruggere, and Marjorie Smink.

The College Library is also notable for its manuscripts and archives. Within its collection are the College's own archives; the archives of other Philadelphia medical institutions; and letters, case books, and student notebooks that document the personal life and professional practice of doctors in the Philadelphia region and around the world. Among the most important manuscript collections are the bulk of extant letters written by S. Weir Mitchell, a Civil War surgeon, neurologist, physiologist, novelist, and leading member of the College for more than fifty years.

The College Library also owns several collections of printed books associated with individual Fellows. The College offers research fellowships to candidates studying the history and culture of medicine. The Lewis collections, donated by College President Samuel Lewis over several decades in the nineteenth century, consist of several thousand books, many of them rare, whose acquisition clearly established the singular importance of the College Library. Most recently, forensic psychiatrist Robert L. Sadoff donated the Sadoff Library of Legal Medicine and Forensic Psychiatry to the College. Before arriving at the College in 2002, Dr. Sadoff's four thousand volumes comprised the world's largest private collection of books and pamphlets on these topics.

Care of the collections has always been of great concern to the College of Physicians of Philadelphia. The College recently installed a state-of-the-art climate control system in the library stacks, and several recent grants and gifts have been applied to an extensive preservation and restoration program.


Large portions of this historical note were taken directly from The College of Physicians of Philadelphia website: (accessed July 27, 2010).

Historical Medical Library of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia
Finding Aid Author
Chrissie Perella
Finding Aid Date
February 2020

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