The Daily Dose Present: Robert L. Brown History of the Health Sciences Collection

DailyDose2Welcome back to the Daily Dose!

Recently, I have been presenting a series on digital collections–the pubic outreach of museums and libraries in this, our digital age. Today, I am happy to present the Robert L. Brown History of the Health Sciences Collection!


LL (6)Linda Lohr has had the great pleasure and privilege of being the Manager of the Robert L. Brown History of Medicine Collection in the Health Sciences Library at the University at Buffalo since 1997. She earned a B.A. and M.A. in French studies from the State University of New York at Albany and received a New York State teaching certificate for French, grades 7-12.  As fate would have it, Linda’s path lead her to the wonderful world of libraries and, in particular, special collections. She is a member of the Archivists and Librarians in the History of the Health Sciences.

mages (3)Keith Mages is a Senior Assistant Librarian with the R.L. Brown Collection. He has an undergraduate degree in Nursing, and a MLS from the University at Buffalo, a MSN in advanced practice psychiatric nursing from Yale University, and a PhD in the History of Nursing from the University of Pennsylvania. When not working in the Collection, he might be off traveling, rooting around second-hand stores, or playing video games. He is a member of the Archivists and Librarians in the History of the Health Sciences, the American Association for the History of Nursing, and the American Association for the History of Medicine.


Established in 1972, the Robert L. Brown History of Medicine Collection is home to rare books, artifacts, and ephemera related to the rich history of medicine, pharmacy, dentistry, nursing, public health and the health professions. The comprehensive monograph collection contains works ranging from 1493 through the 20th century, with an extensive nineteenth century component featuring particular strengths in the subjects of anatomy, surgery, obstetrics and gynecology, pharmacology, dentistry, and oncology.

The Collection includes pre-nineteenth century titles, including works by Vesalius, Thomas Addison, John Hunter and William Harvey. Other interesting materials include historical yearbooks and catalogs from UB’s School of Medicine, along with a complete run of the well-respected Buffalo Medical Journal (1847-1919).

Within the History of Medicine Collection are two special components:

  • The Bonnie and Vern Bullough History of Nursing Collection which includes works by and about Florence Nightingale and American nursing leaders as well as other early nursing texts published before 1900.
  • The Edgar R. McGuire Historical Medical Instrument Collection, established in 1985 by Mrs. Annette Cravens, which is comprised of more than 230 medical instruments and artifacts dating from the early Roman Period to the late 20th century. Contents range from microscopes, surgical instruments and anatomical models to dental instruments, leech jars and baby bottles. A number of these items are part of the UB Digit Collection and are available for viewing and study at

Making parts of the collection digital is important in order to showcase the print and non-print materials that are unique to the collection. With our digital series The Curiosity Cabinet, we aim to share particularly interesting components of our collection with a wide range of individuals, to expose others to the efficient beauty, charming mystery, and of course the fascinating history of medical instruments and medical practice. We hope the video format of The Curiosity Cabinet helps to captivate viewers, to bring them closer to the actual object featured by highlighting each piece’s craftsmanship and functionally.  Additionally, we have also begun to actively communicate digitally via our blog and our Twitter account

Linda Lohr and Keith Mages manage this vibrant, continually growing collection!


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