Medicine on Screen is a curated portal to the National Library of Medicine (NLM) historical audiovisual collections. This site showcases unique, rare, and important medical films enriched with contextual information, scholarly essays, and related resources.


NLM holds a world-renowned historical audiovisual collection of nearly 10,000 titles from the silent era to the present. These films cover a broad range of medical and health-related topics, from public health, surgery, and nursing to mental health, cancer, tuberculosis, child development, tropical medicine, genetics, and substance abuse. Some are public education films, some are professional training films, and some document scientific or medical research. The collection does not generally include Hollywood-type entertainment films, though the occasional celebrity name does appear, for example, Gene Kelly directed and starred in a WWII-era naval training film. Many of these films are rare, and in some cases NLM may have the only surviving copy.

Medicine on Screen replaces the inventive NLM project Medical Movies on the Web, which debuted in 2013 under the direction of David Cantor, Michael Sappol, and Paul Theerman. Building on that foundation, Medicine on Screen adds fresh design, content, and functionality, and continues to highlight selected films from the Library’s audiovisual collections along with expert commentary that sets the films in historical context. In some cases, the films are supplemented with a bibliography and a selection of related materials from the collections of the Library and other repositories. Access to these and other digitized films is also provided through the NLM Digital Collections and YouTube channel.

Please note that some digitized films made available by NLM may contain material that some viewers may find to be challenging, disturbing, or offensive. Viewer discretion is advised.

NLM Historical Audiovisual Collections

The National Library of Medicine holds a world-renowned collection of films related to human health and illness. The collection is open to the public. Titles are being digitized regularly for online access through NLM Digital Collections. To view titles from the entire cataloged collection, visit the Library.

Medicine on Screen is a curated portal to the National Library of Medicine (NLM) historical audiovisual collections. This site showcases unique, rare, and important medical films enriched with contextual information, scholarly essays, and related resources.

Project Direction

Sarah Eilers, Archivist and Historical Audiovisuals Manager

Project Consultant

Dr. Oliver Gaycken, Associate Professor, University of Maryland-College Park

Video Player/Digital Collection Management

NLM Digital Repository Development Team

Web Design

Link Studio

Project Oversight

Elizabeth Mullen

Web Team

Elizabeth Mullen
Steven Dunne
Thu Tran

Acknowledgements

Drs. Michael Sappol, Paul Theerman, and David Cantor, Project Founders
John Rees, Technical Assistance
Jason Anderson, Transcription and Captioning
Sarah Owen and Liz Newton, Research
Rebecca Warlow, Head, Images and Archives
Jeffrey Reznick, Chief, History of Medicine Division