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Description of the Department of Historical Collections

The History of Medicine Suite is on the second floor of the Health Sciences Library, on your right as you exit the elevator. It consists of two areas, one public and one restricted. The public area provides tables and chairs for studying.

In the restricted area are:

The general focus of Special Collections is the history of medicine in Central New York, especially as regards medical education in the 19th century. Besides rare books and journals, there are photographs, medical instruments, historical research aids, non-print and mixed media collections, personal papers, manuscripts, and memorabilia of all kinds. The following online catalogs, holdings lists, and finding aids provide access to these materials:

About 5000 titles of non-circulating books, journals, manuscripts, and pamphlets are grouped in seven separate subcollections, as follows:

The GENEVA Collection: Items about, published by, once owned by, or pertaining in any other way to the earliest predecessor of SUNY Upstate Medical University, Geneva Medical College (1834-1871), its students, alumni, professors, patrons, or administrators. GMC is best known for having graduated the first woman with a regular M.D. degree in modern times, Elizabeth Blackwell, on January 23, 1849.

The ELSNER Collection: Items written by or once owned by Henry Leopold Elsner (1855-1916), prominent Syracuse physician.

The AMERICANA Collection: Items published in the United States before 1820, but not eligible for the Geneva or Elsner Collections.

The RARE Collection: Items produced until 1800, and not eligible for any other collection.
The 19TH CENTURY Collection: Items produced between 1801 and 1900, and not eligible for any other collection.

The 20TH CENTURY Collection: Items produced between 1901 and 2000, and not eligible for any other collection.

The 21ST CENTURY Collection: Items produced from 2001 and not eligible for any other collection.

The core of Special Collections is the Geneva Collection, founded upon the remainder of the Library of Geneva Medical College. Insofar as Geneva Medical College itself was strong for its time in obstetrics, surgery, anatomy, orthopedics, pathology, and medical jurisprudence, the present collection is likewise strongest in these areas. Other subject strengths of Special Collections include neuroradiology, neuroanatomy, and anatomical illustration, thanks to a substantial donation by Arthur D. Ecker, M.D., Ph.D.; and psychiatry and clinical psychology, thanks to a substantial donation by Wolf Wolfensberger, Ph.D.

For researchers of the history of medicine, Historical Collections provides data and services either in person, by phone (315-464-4581), by fax (315-464-7199), by U.S. Mail (766 Irving Avenue, Syracuse, NY 13210), or by e-mail <> -- as well as many resources on the World Wide Web, easily accessible through the Historical Collections home page: <>.

Descriptions of Historical Collections:

The History of Medicine Suite is open whenever the Library is open. Special Collections is open to the public 9 to 5 Monday to Friday. To use the resources of Special Collections, please make an appointment with the Curator:

Phone: 315-464-7091
Fax: 315-464-7199