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Kornhauser Health Sciences Library

History Collection & Archives: Our Collection

General Information

The University of Louisville's Kornhauser Library houses a valuable body of historical materials documenting the evolution of medical training and health care practices in Kentucky during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

The holdings include some records of the University of Louisville School of Medicine from its establishment as the Louisville Medical Institute in 1837 and its absorption of four other medical colleges in 1908. In addition, the library owns a small collection pertaining to the Louisville National Medical College, an African-American school of medicine located in Louisville from 1888-1912. The History Collection also includes records of local schools of dentistry, nursing, and public health from 1838 to 1908. These records are not complete and records are added or updated as new information becomes available.  

A portion of the collection consists of non-university manuscript material and contains the records of local and state hospitals, health departments, medical societies and other professional organizations. In addition, personal papers of Kentucky physicians, dentists, pharmacists, nurses, and health administrators are also available. Notable among them are S. Spafford Ackerly, Charles Caldwell, Daniel Drake, Joel Elkes, Joseph N. and Arthur T. McCormack, Gradie R. Rowntree, R. Glen Spurling, and Lunsford P., Jr. and David W. Yandell.

The library preserves thousands of biographical sketches, reports, notices and articles from nineteenth and twentieth century newspapers and journals. There are also the historical manuscripts which were transcribed by the WPA historical research project to produce Medicine and its Development in Kentucky (1940). Medical bibliophile and cardiologist Emmet Field Horine donated his extensive collection of nineteenth century manuscripts, printed primary sources relating to anesthesiology.

Rare Books

In 175 years of operation, the library has amassed a fine collection of rare medical and scientific books and journals, antique medical and dental instruments, and other artifacts.

Private collections of rare books which have been donated to the library include those of Charles Caldwell, William E. Gardner, Emmet F. Horine, and R. Glen Spurling. The Joan Titley Adams History Room contains many volumes from the original medical school library--all acquired before 1850, along with the Gardner and Caldwell collections.

Digital Collections

The Kornhauser Health Sciences Library Digital History Collection provides online access to formal class photographs; images of students, buildings, classrooms, and laboratories; and early medical school catalogs. Together, these materials serve as a resource into the history of the health-related programs and people of the University of Louisville.

Kornhauser’s Digital History Collection includes items from the Louisville General Hospital School of Nursing, University of Louisville School of Dentistry, University of Louisville School of Medicine Catalogs, University of Louisville School of Medicine Class Digital Photographs, and a database of medical school graduates from 1838-1908.

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