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Medical Collection

The John Rylands Library's collection of Medical and Scientific items reflects the University's heritage in the fields represented.

The Library houses one of the most outstanding collections of printed medical books in the UK, with over 60,000 volumes. The majority of items in the collection date from the nineteenth century and at its core is the library formed in 1834 by the Manchester Medical Society. There are some 3,000 medical books printed before 1701 and around 4,000 18th-century items.

The collections also include some of the earliest printed editions in various languages of Aristotle, Euclid, Hippocrates and Pythagoras, along with great names of Renaissance and early modern scientific discovery such as Galileo, Copernicus and Newton. Of particular note are items relating to natural history which include some beautifully illustrated examples of the classification processes of animal and plant kingdoms in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. There are further specialist collections for the history of mathematics and deaf education.

The Scientific and Medical collections have huge potential for new and exciting discoveries. To begin research into the collection, we first need a better understanding of its contents. Although the collection was once partially catalogued, a preliminary survey indicates that a significant number of items are unrecorded and difficult to access both by researchers and the public

We are delighted to be able to undertake this work thanks to the support of Dr David Shreeve, who is kindly supporting cataloguing our Medical Manuscripts - alongside a two year Research Fellowship in the History of Medicine.