Rare Book and Historical Collections

The Rare Book and Historical Collections at The New York Academy of Medicine comprise a significant research collection devoted to the history of medicine and public health.

"Historical Account of the Small-Pox Inoculated in New England..." was written in 1730 by Zabdiel Boylston and is among the 32,000 volumes in NYAM's Rare Book Room.

NYAM's library began with the donation of a set of Martyn Paine's Commentaries during the second meeting of the Academy, which was founded in 1847. Since that time, the rare book and historical collections portion of the library has grown via gifts and purchases to approximately 32,000 volumes, the majority of which date from the 15th through the 18th centuries. This impressive collection contains 85 to 90 percent of the medical books printed in what is now the United States between the late 17th and early 19th centuries. First editions of later major works, such as Freud's work on dreams, are also housed in the Drs Barry and Bobbi Coller Rare Book Room.

Strengths of the rare book collection include works about public health; infectious disease; developments in medical research and clinical medicine; obstetrics and gynecology; the development and regulation of the medical profession; and the growth of medical societies and hospitals. In addition to printed books, the collection contains other significant items related to the history of the health sciences. We maintain a large vertical file of portraits and other images rendered in a variety of print mediums such as engraving, lithography and photography.

This remarkable collection is supported by an extensive reference collection in the history of the health sciences and the history of books and printing. The fact that medical books have remained a significant part of the world's production of written and printed texts is reflected in the rare book room's collections.

Hours and Contact Information

Open by appointment
10 AM–4:45 PM

Coller Rare Book Reading Room
Tuesday, Thursday, Friday
10 AM - 4:45 PM
12 PM - 6:45 PM


Coller Rare Book Room

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