Historical Collections at HSLS

Historical books open on a tableHow relevant can old medical books be to modern medicine? Not very much? Think again. The Rare Book Room is full of surprises. Until recently, scientists believed that the brain and meninges were devoid of lymphatic vessels. When the presence of the meningeal lymphatic system was accepted in 2015, the follow-up review of historical descriptions of lymphatic vessels uncovered five earlier ones. Thus, in 2018, Paolo Mascagni was posthumously credited with the first discovery of meningeal lymphatic vessels for his description published in 1787. Mascagni’s book is a part of the rare book and special collections, which contain more than 10,500 publications and artifacts dating from 1496 to 1945.

  • This unique collection is only accessible by appointment, but it is quite easy and convenient to schedule a visit by phone or email. We are always happy to accommodate visitors.

The research into medical sciences past is also supported by our circulating history of medicine collection, which includes an additional 10,000 volumes of secondary resources published from 1946 to the present.

Both collections are discoverable through PittCat.

Consider exploring our historical collections. Knowing the origins and paths that led to modern discoveries can be extremely rewarding.

~Gosia Fort