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History of the Health Sciences Resources: HSL Special Collections

Information on digital archives, collections and sites in the history of the health sciences

HSL Special Collections website

About HSL Special Collections

Special Collections at the Health Sciences Library (HSL) include not only printed works, such as books, pamphlets, journals, broadsides, posters, and ephemera, but also manuscripts, letters, photographs, student notebooks, drawings, and other documents, as well as medical instruments, artifacts, models, and other cultural objects. These materials range in date from the 1500s to the present day, encompassing the history of medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, nursing, public health, and the allied medical sciences. The history of the health sciences in North Carolina is strongly represented.

Medicinal Plant Gardens

This garden is a fitting tribute to the memory of Sam Hitt, an avid gardener himself, who served as Director of the Health Sciences Library from 1976-1986. The garden connects the library physically and thematically to the neighboring schools of health professions, by growing and displaying plants that have therapeutic uses. It complements the beauty of the library and invites guests and passers-by to stop for reflection or a closer look, and to enjoy the library both inside and out.


Bullitt History of Medicine Club

The Bullitt History of Medicine Club promotes the understanding and appreciation of the historical foundations upon which current medical knowledge and practice is constructed, by encouraging social and intellectual exchanges between faculty members, medical students, and members of the community.

During the academic year the Bullitt Club holds monthly lectures, usually on Tuesdays at noon, at the UNC Health Sciences Library. All meetings are free and open to the public.

Meet Your Librarian

Dawne Lucas, MA, MLS can provide help through email, chat, or phone

Special Collections Tutorials

Medical Instrument and Pharmaceutical Collection

Medical Instrument and Pharmacy Collection

The Health Sciences Library has an extensive collection of medical instruments and pharmacy items, dating from the mid-1800s to mid-1900s. Highlights include a Civil War-era surgical instrument kit and a small collection of instruments owned by former UNC Department of Pathology chair James Bell Bullitt. Many of the items came to the Health Sciences Library from the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (AFIP) and from the office of former Virginia doctor C. E. Martin.

Materials in this collection include:

  • Dental tools
  • Doctor's bags​
  • Medicine bottles
  • Microscopes
  • Optical kits
  • Pharmaceutical samples
  • Surgical instrument kits

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