The History Collections at Laupus

We must preserve the past to learn from it.

That’s exactly why Laupus Library is home to The History Collections, which focus on materials relevant to the history of health care. Collections include historical materials from medicine, nursing, the allied health sciences, dentistry, pharmacology, public health and domestic health.

Materials dating from the sixteenth century into the twenty-first century are already part of this growing collection. Primary care practices in eastern North Carolina are a focus of the History Collections.

Although print is the primary format, the collection includes audio and video formats, microforms, electronic resources, photographs, artifacts, regalia, and manuscripts. The collection includes items as varied as 19th century microscopes to a book that reproduces an Egyptian surgical papyrus. 

Students often view these collections as part of a required undergraduate English class project where they research their planned major. For example, students planning to become dermatologists often focus their project on The Stereoscopic Skin Collection. This collection is like an atlas for skin diseases, mapped out by physicians before us. If you view the collection, be warned that some photos contain graphic content.

We’ve also received questions about these collections from as far away as Texas, showing that medical history – particularly some of the more gruesome photos – is of great interest to many people.

Given that it’s summer and a lot of us are spending time outdoors and in the sun, be sure to take extra care of your skin. You don’t want to end up with any of the conditions documented in our Skin Collection cards.


 –Dr. Dorothy A. Spencer, Laupus Library