Construction work on the bridge between the Simpson-Querrey and Searle buildings may cause significant noise disruption in the library Feb 1-21. Learn more.

Special Collections


Temporary Closure Notice

Starting September 1, 2017, the Special Collections department will be temporarily closed for the renovation of the library. This closure will impact access to the collections and services provided by the department. Limited historical reference services will be available via email through Please allow additional time for responses to requests.

If you have questions about this temporary closure and its impact, please email Katie Lattal, Special Collections Librarian, at

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The Special Collections Department is the steward of Galter Health Sciences Library and Learning Center’s rare, unique, and historical materials. The library’s rare book collections consist of medical and dental works from European and American sources, spanning the 15th through the 20th centuries, with strengths in anatomy, pathology, obstetrics and gynecology, and urology, among others. The department also houses collections of medical and dental artifacts, manuscripts, institutional and personal archives, and more. The great majority of our titles are cataloged, and their records may be located in Galter Search.



The Special Collections department provides historical reference support to the Northwestern University community as well as the general public. Some services, such as scanning, printing, and photography, may be fee-based. Please contact us for details.

For a list of select resources, see the History of Medicine GalterList compiled by librarians.



Galter Health Sciences Library and Learning Center is open only to the faculty, staff and students of Northwestern University and its affiliated hospitals. See our policy here. The Special Collections reading room, however, is open to the general public by appointment only. Please contact us by phone or email to register as a user.

Instructors wishing to use our materials during class sessions may schedule the use of our reading room. The instructor must be present during these sessions and various security protocols respected. Reservations must be made in advance.


Contact us

Katie Lattal
Special Collections Librarian

Abebi Pendleton
Library Assistant

(312) 503-8133


Mailing Address
Special Collections
Galter Health Sciences Library
303 East Chicago Avenue
Suite 2-212
Chicago, Illinois 60611

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Archibald Church Historical Medical Collection

  • Highlights of titles published before 1800:
    • Four incunabula by Thomas Aquinas and Albertus Magnus
    • Sixteenth century authors include Ambrose Pare and Andreas Vesalius
    • Seventeenth century authors include William Harvey, John Mayow and Clopton Havers
    • Eighteenth century authors include Giovanni Battista Morgagni, Percival Pott, and Antonio Valsalva
  • Post-1800 titles cover general medicine, pathology, surgery, military medicine, biography, and more
  • Early journals
  • Manuscripts include:
    • Physicians such as J.B. Murphy, William Osler, and Benjamin Rush


Kretschmer Collection of Urology

Holdings include rare books, artifacts, papers, and student notebooks donated by Herman L. Kretschmer.


A. D. Black Historical Dental Collection

Holdings include rare books, engravings and prints, the G.V. Black collection, and more.


Institutional archives

Holdings include photographs, publications, papers, and administrative records from:

  • The Feinberg School of Medicine and its antecedents
  • The Dental School
  • The School of Pharmacy
  • The Woman’s Medical School

NB: These collections are in the midst of processing. Please contact us for holdings information.


Personal Archives

Holdings include: 

  • Materials of former deans, faculty, alumni/ae, and others, including N.S. Davis, Irving S. Cutter, Archibald Church, Arthur Stillians, Michael Mason, and more
  • Approximately 4,000 medical and dental portraits, caricatures, and engravings
  • Medical and dental ephemera

NB: These collections are in the midst of processing. Please contact us for holdings information.



Holdings include medical and dental instruments and equipment, as well as objects related to the Feinberg School of Medicine, its affiliates, the history of medicine in Chicago, and more.

NB: These collections are in the midst of processing. Please contact us for holdings information.


Digital Collections

  • G.V. Black Collection
    • The G.V. Black digitized collection contains 43 manuscripts, 100 letters, and several photographs covering the period between 1867 and 1915. Some of the more important items in the collection are: correspondence between Dr. Black and Dr. Frederick S. McKay that focuses on mottled enamel of teeth and early hypotheses on water and fluoridation; correspondence, program announcements, and other memorabilia from the World Dental Congress held in conjunction with the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893; a manuscript on zoo chemistry.
    • Searchable finding aid
  • Northwestern University Medical School: 1859-1979, a pioneer in educational reform
    • A history of the Feinberg School of Medicine, written by Leslie B. Arey, PhD, a faculty member in the Department of Anatomy from 1919 to 1987.
  • Biographies of notable individuals affiliated with the Feinberg School of Medicine
    • The Special Collections Department is part of an ongoing project with the Faculty Affairs Office to research and compose biographies of the individuals and families with endowed professorships named in their honor.
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Video: Leslie B. Arey on the history of the NU Medical School Library

Conversations with Leslie B. Arey: An Oral History of the N.U. Medical School
(60 Minutes; 1985)

James E. Eckenhoff, MD, medical school dean 1968-1985 interviews Leslie B. Arey, PhD,
NU faculty 1915-1988. The video features personal impressions, memories, and vignettes,
with photographs and film clips. Produced by the Medical School Library staff Edward Tawyea,
Associate Director 1985-1988, and Pejman Makarechi, Head of Media Production Services
1983-1988 and updated by the Galter Health Sciences Library.

Excerpted from: Conversations with Leslie B. Arey: An Oral History of the N.U. Medical School

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Updated: December 19th, 2017 14:47