Friday, November 2, 2007

Wellcome Library’s “Free For All” training session

Today I went to the Wellcome Library’s “Free For All” training session on free medical history resources on the web – potential sources to point people with medical history queries that turn up in the patent inbox.

This was mainly a list of recommended sites:

US National Library of Medicine history division, - wide range of online exhibitions, large image collection, a small but increasing collection of digital books, and “Profiles In Science” on prominent figures with digital documents. Also a lot of catalogues to indentify material.

Karolinska Institutet: - Massive list of links to medical history websites and articles, in English. Not easily searchable as you have to read through the pages.

PubMed Central: or – Archive of freely-accessible academic medical articles, including some notable journals digitised back to the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Bibliotheque Interuniversitaire de Medicine, Paris: - French-language website with a huge range of digitised historical texts, including English-language material – look under “Editions electroniques”.

Medhist: – Indexed and searchable web gateway to quality history of medicine resources edited by staff at the Wellcome Library.

Of even more interest is that I discovered that the Wellcome Library has a collection of British patents on medical subjects up to 1906 that can be searched through their online catalogue by applicant, title and patent agent. I’m still trying to find out if they have all medical ones and what the earliest date is – unfortunately the patent years given initially on the catalogue are publication years, so everything’s about a year later than it should be and all the pre-1852 stuff is dated 1853 or 1854 by when it was printed. Have a play around, it’s a free search facility for material that has no other free database. Go to the search by document type at and type patent in the search box, then search within results using the “Limit/Sort” button.

They still won’t copy them, though, for the same reasons as we restrict.


Philip Eagle
BIPC - British Library

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