The Collections: Guide to the Collections: Medicine & Science
J. K. Lilly, Jr. was a major collector of important books in the history of science and medicine and it is to his efforts that the Lilly Library is indebted for many of its treasures in both fields. His medical books contain such monumental works as the great De Humani corporis fabrica of Vesalius (1543) and William Harvey's description of human blood circulation, De Motu cordis, (1628) as well as first and early editions of Hippocrates, Malpighi, Pare, Hunter, Jenner, Laennec, Bigelow and Fleming among others. This aspect of the Library's collection is well documented in William R. LeFanu's Notable Medical Books in the Lilly Library, Indiana University published in 1976. Numbered among the scientific landmarks in Mr. Lilly's gift were original editions of works by Pliny, Euclid, Copernicus, Kepler, Napier, Galileo, Boyle, Newton, Priestley, Lavoisier, Ampere, Faraday, Pasteur, and Curie to name but a few.
Among works documenting great moments in medical history, the Library holds the first printing of Fracastoro's poem on Syphilis (1530); Ramazzini on occupational diseases and Tagliacozzi on plastic surgery (1700 and 1597); Withering's discussion of the the medical uses of digitalis in his An Account of the Foxglove (1785); and Jenner's Inquiry into the Causes and Effects of the Variolae Vaccinae (1798).
The largest single addition to the books Mr. Lilly accumulated came in the collection of Ian Fleming, creator of James Bond, Agent "007." Whereas Mr. Lilly's interests were mainly in pure science, the six hundred-odd books from Mr. Fleming's library include many on applied science and technology. With the acquisition of the Ian Fleming collection, the Lilly Library considerably enriched its holdings in these scientific fields.
The Library continues to collect actively both in medicine and science. Resources in the former were increased substantially by the gift of Dr. Edgar F. Kiser's medical collection; the gift of the papers of Nobel Prize winning geneticist Hermann J. Muller and of Tracy M. Sonneborn, both longtime faculty members at Indiana University, provided the foundation for a growing collection in genetics; and the Vaclav Hlavaty papers, which contain a long correspondence between Hlavaty and Albert Einstein concerning the mathematical proofs for Einstein's theories, added to the Library's holdings in mathematics.
Related exhibition catalogues include:
- Exhibition of Original Printings of Some Milestones of Science from Pliny (1469) to Banting (1922) [ online version available ]
- II. Medicine: An Exhibition of Books Relating to Medicine and Surgery from the Collection formed by J. K. Lilly [ online version available ]
- X. Biology. An Exhibition at the Lilly Library in honor of the meetings of The American Institute of Biological Sciences and The American Physiological Society [ online version available ]
- XL. Newton and the Scientific Revolution [ online version available ]
- LI. Rethinking the World: Discovery and Science in the Renaissance [ online version available ]
- LII. J. K. Lilly, Jr., Bibliophile [ online version available ]
Top: Plate from Gasparo Tagliacozzi's De Curtorum Chirurgra perinsitionem, Libri Duo [Venice, 1597].