home Events and Exhibits, J. Otto Lottes Health Sciences Library Rare Books at the Health Sciences Library

Rare Books at the Health Sciences Library

Did you know that the Health Sciences Library has a rare book room? The Donald Silver Rare Book Room was donated to the library by the Department of Surgery in honor of Dr. Donald Silver, an emeritus professor. lt is located on the third floor of the Health Sciences Library, directly adjacent to the elevator. Viewing hours of rare books in the collection or of the room itself are available by appointment. Items can be used for research purposes and under limited conditions borrowed or scanned for use with the permission of the Rare Book Librarian or the Director of the Library, Deb Ward.

A “rare” book is considered rare because of the scarcity of item, not because of its dollar value, although at times that can be considerable. Rarity is based on a few factors: that there are few exemplars in existence, that they are primary source materials, that the intellectual content of the materials is significant, or they are old and fragile. Any one or more of those factors establishes that an item is “rare.”

The items in the Rare Book Room at HSL are placed there if they are printed before 1900 or are selected by the Director or HSL Librarians. Criteria for selection can also include considerations such as special examples of binding, fine paper, printing, or because they contain significant illustrations. Some titles are fascimilies, expertly reproduced copies, of important manuscripts and early printed books.

An item is given rare book status and retained in our library if the item affords a needed perspective on contemporary studies, or provides the opportunity to learn about early developments in the field of medicine. Other criteria include providing a historical focus on the patient, the medical environment, or medical institutions. Items, which identify a historical person or trends in medicine, or have a historical background to technological breakthroughs, are also given rare book status. We are particularly interested in collecting items relating to early medicine in Missouri.

Many of the books in our collection were donated by Clarence Martin Jackson, a former graduate of the University of Missouri. He received a B.S. in 1898, an M.S. in 1899, and an MD in 1900, all from Mizzou. He became dean of the Medical school from 1909 to 1913, and spent the rest of his career at the University of Minnesota. Jackson left over 12,000 items from his personal collection to the University of Missouri Libraries, including many of the volumes in the HSL Rare Book Room. Other books in the collection have been donated by many generous supporters over the years, or were originally purchased for the use of students and faculty in the medical and nursing programs.

This exhibit highlights some of the important works from our collection.

The works on exhibit are:

  • Samuel Thomas von Sömmerring. Icones embryonum humanorum. Frankfurt: Varrentrapp and Wenner, 1799.
  • Giovanni Battista Morgagni. De Sedibus et Causis Morborum per Anatomen Indagatis. Venice: Ex Typographia Remondiniana, 1761.
  • John Huxham. An essay on fevers, and their various kinds, as depending on different constitutions of the blood: with dissertations on slow nervous fevers; on putrid, pestilential, spotted fevers; on the small-pox; and on pleurisies and peripneumonies. London: S. Austen, 1750.
  • Claudius Galen of Pergamon. Libri tres : Primus, De facultatum naturalium substantia. Secundus, Quod animi mores, corporis temperaturam sequuntur.  Tertius, De propiorum animi cujusque affectuum agnitione & remedio. Paris: Simon Colinaeus, 1528.
  • Florence Nightingale. Notes on nursing. New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1894.
  • Girolamo Cardano. De methodo medendi. Parisiis: Rovillii, 1565.

Taira Meadowcroft

Taira Meadowcroft is the Public Health and Community Engagement Librarian at the Health Sciences Library at the University of Missouri.

home Resources and Services, Special Collections and Archives On the Twelfth Day of Christmas in July…

On the Twelfth Day of Christmas in July…

… we present Jesus and the Twelve Apostles.

In this collection of the Gospels from 1591, the text is written in both Arabic and Latin.  It's inscribed "With compliments to my friend Dr. W. Burggraaf, Christmas 1931."


A beautiful example of works in translation, the book also contains 149 woodcut illustrations.  They were, however, printed from only 68 blocks, so the careful reader can discern some copycat pictures in different places.  Like the two below, both used to illustrate a version of the same story in Matthew and then in John.



Reusing woodblocks was a fairly common practice, particularly in bibles where multiple versions of similar events or themes are told by the various authors of the books of the Bible throughout.  We've come across several other books in our collection where the illustrations give us deja vu.

That's it for the 12 Days of Christmas in July series!  Have a merry holiday, and if you should feel like celebrating with us, stop by and see us next week – we'd be happy to show you any of the books featured here, along with any of the others in our collections!

Independence Day

Happy Independence Day from those of us here at Special Collections!  In honor of the day of America's declaration of independence from England, here are some items from our collections about the document that started it all.

First, from our poster collection, is this reproduction of the Declaration, produced by the Marquette Cement Manufacturing Company to "foster a greater appreciation of the fundamentals of Americanism" in 1925.  A block of text on the back asks the question "Why not celebrate the 4th of July by displaying this facsimile of the Declaration of Independence in your home or place of business."  To that we say: way ahead of you, Marquette Cement Manufacturing.

Here's a close up of some of the signatures that anyone familiar with the document will recognize:


From our Rare Collection is this beautifully illustrated pamphlet on the story of the Declaration:


Published in 1903, it includes a history of the events leading up to the writing of the document, portraits of the signers, and an essay on the history of the American flag by John Quincy Adams.

For other items relating to Independence Day in our collections, including our collection of Fourth of July Orations, stop by and see us, and have a happy Fourth!

home Resources and Services, Special Collections and Archives Salamanca, Wellington’s Masterpiece

Salamanca, Wellington’s Masterpiece

Portrait of Wellington from Baines' History of the Wars of the French Revolution (London, 1817). The word Wellington is a facsimile of the General's signature.July 22, 2012 marks the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Salamanca. While Napoleon was in the midst of his Russian campaign, other generals were busy consolidating France's position in Spain against a combined force of English, Portuguese, and Spanish rebels.

Though Wellington is probably best remembered for the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, the battle at Salamanca is often called his masterpiece. On the afternoon of July 22nd, after a full day of fighting, Wellington recognized a weakness in the French army lines. His decisive orders for attack led to a rapid victory for the British forces.

Page from Southey's "Life of Wellington" (Dublin, 1816) describing the moment when Wellington gives the orders that will lead to victory atThe relative quickness of the British success following this action inspired friends and enemies. The French general Maximilien Foy famously declared "Wellington defeated an army of 40,000 in 40 minutes" when he wrote about his experience at Salamanca in his journal. Robert Southey’s account of the battle from his book Life of Wellington emphasized the dramatic moment Wellington gave his orders.

"Lord Wellington was at dinner when he was informed of this movement [of French troops]: he saw at once the advantage which had been given; he rose in such haste as to overturn the table, …and in an instant was on horseback, issuing those orders which won the battle of Salamanca."

While these accounts might not be strictly true, they do reflect the quickness of this stage of the battle and the strategic skill shown by Wellington.

Up to this point, Wellington had generally been regarded as a defensive general. Salamanca established his ability as a skillful soldier and tactician. This statement from Baines’ History of the Wars of the French Revolution is characteristic of many of the tributes to the battle and to Wellington:

Page from Baine's History of the Wars of the French Revolution (London, 1817) describing the battle of Salamanca.

"The battle of Salamanca was distinguished from all other battles hitherto fought in the peninsula, by several important circumstances: it was more masterly in the design, more gallant in the execution, and followed by consequences of far greater importance."

In retrospect, observers recognized July 22, 1812 as a turning point in the Peninsular War, not only for Wellington's reputation but for the morale of French army on the peninsula. British forces eventually drove the French armies from Spain and invaded Southern France in 1814. If British officer William Napier is to be believed, Wellington was aware of the shift on the afternoon of the battle. Napier recalls seeing Wellington late in the day at Salamanca "…alone, the flush of victory was on his brow… With a prescient pride he seemed only accept his glory as an earnest of greater things." Those greater things would culminate in the Battle of Waterloo, and the final defeat of Napoleon.

Map of the Battle of Waterloo from Southey's Life of Wellington (Dublin, 1816).
Robert Muir's Book Salamanca, 1812 (Yale University Press, 2001) is a source for more information about the battle and its' importance.

Russian Maps Digital Exhibit!!!!

Russian Map Banner


Mapping the Past: Rare Russian Maps from Special Collections has been created as a digital highlight of books and maps on the website of the Special Collections and Rare Books department.  This virtual exhibit describes the cartographic trade and the exploration of the Russian empire from the 16th through the 18th centuries. The display was originally mounted as a physical exhibit in the Ellis Library colonnade at the University of Missouri in April 2011.


Jacques Flach Collection

Jacques Flach
A photo of Jacques Flach.

Jacques Flach was born in Strasbourg, France, the capital of the Alsace region, on February 16, 1846. Flach studied classics and law at Strasbourg University, where he received a Doctor at Law in 1869. In his dissertation and writings, he endeavored to explain legal problems through historical analysis, which was a relatively innovative approach.

Flach wrote and collected books extensively throughout his life. His library supported his prolific writing and research. His collection has a wide breadth including texts on Irish politics, Mesopotamia, Russian history and the Alsace region of France. In total the University of Missouri Library purchased over 6,000 books from his estate in 1920.

The collection was purchased by Henry O. Severance, the University of Missouri library director. While he was working for the American Library in Paris, a service of the American Library Association, this collection came up for sale and he bought the Flach Library for about $6,000 including shipping.

This manuscript is of St. Raymond of Penafort’s book “Summa de poenitentiae et matrimonio”. It dates from the first half of the 13th century. BX1757 .R39 1200

The books from the collection were accessioned at the time of purchase, but the cataloging process continued for more than forty years. Currently only 814 titles of the approximately 6,000 have been identified as Flach collection books. The bulk of unidentified items have no Flach ex-libri. There is a continuing effort to search for the rest of the collection.

Currently there is a Flach book available for restoration support through our Adopt-A-Book program. This is Johann Weis’s elephant folio, Représentation des Fêtes Données par la Ville de Strasbourg Pour la Convalescence du Roi. This codex recorded Louis XV’s entry into Strasbourg in October 1744. Weis describes the events and supplies many of the illustrations. The elaborate plates depict the king’s entry into the city, fireworks and renders beautifully many of Strasbourg’s public buildings.

Please click here for a listing of the Jacques Flach books in MERLIN. Many of the books are located in the Rare Books Collection in Special Collections, but many of the Flach books are housed in the University of Missouri Depository (UMLD).


Selected Bibliography

  • “Columbia.” The Library Journal, 46 (1922): 418.
  • Currie, Florence. “The Flach collection of the University of Missouri”. Bibliographical Society of America 17.1 (1923): 57-64.
  • “Geofroi Jacques Flach.” The Encyclopedia Americana 11 (1919): p. 307.