W. Bruce Fye History of Medicine Library

Historic medical books are works of art as well as science.Location:
Plummer Building, 15th floor, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn.

Available to:
Mayo Clinic employees; external researchers and scholars; visiting clinicians

9 am-1 pm Central Time, Monday-Friday; closed on holidays
Tours available by appointment only

Call 507-284-3676 or email lane.hilary@mayo.edu

This specialized library, within the Plummer Library, houses important collections in the history of medicine and allied sciences.  Several thousand volumes of rare medical classics (from 1479) and early journal literature (from 1665) comprise the core collection of primary literature on all aspects of medicine and allied fields.  Early medical imprints (pre-1875) and more recently published histories, biographies, facsimiles and other support material comprise the remainder of the collection.  Special strengths include anesthesiology, cardiology, dermatology, immunology, ophthalmology and neurology.

Non-book special collections include medical bookplates, Vanity Fair caricatures, Mayo Clinic related cartoons, medical philately and medical heraldry.  Exhibits using titles from the W. Bruce Fye History of Medicine Library collection are curated once a year. 

An approved request and scheduled appointment are required for researchers to use the collection. Staff services include research assistance, identification of historical works, reference verification and other literature research support.

Bookplate Exhibit on Display

Ever since books were first printed in the 15th century, it has been common practice for collectors and libraries to make some mark of ownership.  This might be simply the name of the owner written on the inside cover of the book or even on the title-page, but eventually the favored convention became the book-plate – a label with a distinctive design. 

In 1934 Mayo Clinic Librarian, Miss Frida Pliefke, began a collection of medically themed bookplates. She wrote to hundreds of libraries and received in return a fine assortment of beautiful bookplates.  The W. Bruce Fye History of Medicine Library collection comprises over 800 bookplates and this exhibit displays just a sampling of this unique collection.

Exhibit curated by:
Hilary J. Lane, Instructor in History of Medicine
Coordinator, W. Bruce Fye History of Medicine Library

Viewing times:  Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.