NLM Resources

Explore a variety of resources from the National Library of Medicine.

NLM Digital Collections is the Library’s free online resource of digitized audiovisuals, books, and still images, many available for download. Material includes individual titles as well are those organized into collections; for example, Tropical Disease, World War I, FDA Notices of Judgment, and NLM Productions.

LocatorPlus™ is the Library’s online public access catalog of books, audiovisuals, still images, journals, computer files, and other materials in the Library’s collections. Records indicate if an item has been digitized and typically include a link.

Profiles in Science provides digital access to the archival collections of prominent scientists, physicians, and others who have advanced the scientific enterprise, including DNA researchers Francis Crick and Rosalind Franklin and US Surgeon General C. Everett Koop.  The Library holds many of these collections, which contain published and unpublished items including books, journal volumes, pamphlets, diaries, letters, manuscripts, photographs, audiotapes, video clips, and other materials.

Circulating Now is the NLM History of Medicine Division’s blog exploring the Library’s myriad collections, including important audiovisual titles. The blog provides insight into collections, information about news and events from the History of Medicine Division, and series such as “Revealing Datapenned by NLM staff and guest writers.

Hidden Treasure is a remarkable book that brings to light hundreds of wondrous items held by NLM but largely unseen by the public and obscure even to librarians, curators, and historians. Incisive essays inform the reader about spectacular large-scale, color-illustrated medical books; rare manuscripts; pamphlets and ephemera; “magic lantern” slides; toys; stereograph cards; scrapbooks; film stills; posters; and more from the 13th to the 20th century, from Europe, Africa, North America, and Asia.

NLM Exhibitions enhance awareness of and appreciation for the collection and health information resources of the National Library of Medicine. The Exhibition Program in the History of Medicine Division produces lively and informative physical and online exhibitions.  Along with supportive educational resources, the Program engages diverse audiences and explore a variety of topics in the history of medicine. Find a Traveling Exhibition Near You.

Beyond NLM

Outside of NLM, several other publications and online collections feature health, medical, and scientific moving images and useful research that contextualizes and explores the backstories of these titles and genres:

Medfilm, a European-based audiovisual platform and collaborative film database run by a team of researchers at the University of Strasbourg, France, is an active partner of Medicine on Screen. The Medfilm platform offers a database of hundreds of health and medical films with accompanying analyses. Exploring the worldwide history of health, it operates as a nonprofit, academic, interdisciplinary, and international research/teaching project. Its mixed-method approach provides direct access to a twentieth-century collection of medical- and health-related ephemeral “utility” films along with complementary non-film archival materials intended for contextualization. Ephemeral utility films are educational, industrial, and promotional health-related audiovisuals, typically produced for specific, pragmatic purposes, and distinct from commercial entertainment. They may be shot by physicians, produced for training professional audiences, or sponsored or commissioned by industry or public institutions.  Created in the form of an adapted MediaWiki, the MedFilm database has been developed in collaboration with the Direction du Numérique at the University of Strasbourg.

Discover films from the NLM historical collections featured in Medfilm.

The Library of Congress’s National Screening Room features more than 300 digitized films, many in the educational and instructional genres. Health-related topics included mental illness and the work of African-American physicians.

The Wellcome Library’s Moving Image and Sound Collection has thousands of titles covering all aspects of medicine, health, and welfare throughout the 20th century and beyond, chiefly produced in the United Kingdom but also containing titles from the world over.

Atomic Theater is a site featuring dozens of civil defense and security titles from the Cold War era, most made by the US government as it contended with threats to public safety and health, preparation for atomic attack, and the predicted effects of nuclear blasts and radioactive fallout.

Download a full PDF of the Field Guide to Sponsored Films, produced by the National Film Preservation Foundation. The guide profiles message-driven educational and instructional motion pictures, surveying more than 450 (American) sponsored films made between 1897 and 1980. The selected films are notable for their historical and cultural influence or artistic merit. Developed by industrial film expert Rick Prelinger with a team of scholars, archivists, and collectors, the guide includes bibliographic reference, indexes, repository information, and links to works viewable online.

Learning With the Lights Off is a collection of essays that address the phenomenon of film’s educational uses in twentieth century America. Nontheatrical films in general and educational films in particular are a growing area of inquiry in media and cultural studies. This collection illuminates an influential form of filmmaking seen by millions of people around the world, revealing insights into film’s powerful role in American culture as a medium of instruction and guidance. [This link does not provide full access to the book, but does offer links to most of the film titles profiled in the publication.] For more detail on the contents of the book, see this book review in the journal The Moving Image.