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Medical History and Special Collections: Exhibits & Events

Online Exhibits

Rare Apothecary Jars

Beautiful examples of 15th to 18th century apothecary and ewers (albarelli and versatoi)  jars on exhibit in the lower lobby of the Library and in the Richmond Room.  These are Italian and Spanish majolica jars are on loan from the Mary Duke Biddle Trent Semans Foundation and were used to store drugs made from medicinal herbs and plants.

Apothecary jar


Apothecary jar


Permanent and Current Exhibits

There are several permanent exhibits in the Library.

Neurosurgical Stereotactical Devices

See the early devices used by neurosurgeions when operating on the brain.  This impressive collection was developed by Dr. Blaine Nashold along with the descriptive displays.  Five exhibit cases on the 3rd level of the Library hold this fascinating collection of neurosurgical devices.

asutin lee devicenashold device

Zeiss UltraPhot Microscope

This microscope was used to capture stunning images by Duke's Department of Pathology.  It is considered one of the premiere microscopes of its times. Located on the "balcony", a half flight up the central stairs from the 3rd level.

Zeiss ultraphot

65th General Hospital

The 65th General Army Hospital in World War II was a base hospital sponsored by Duke University, following in the footsteps of the Lt. Colonel Frederic Hanes, later professor of Medicine at Duke, who commanded the unit in World War I.  English artist and war correspondent Frank Beresford captured members of the 65th in his paintings, which are displayed on the 3rd level of the Library.

65th general OR scene 65th general hospital x-ray

A statue honoring the 65th when it was decommissioned is located in the gardens in front of Duke's Cancer Center and Clinic buildings.

65th general hospital scuplture65th general hospital sculpture pt.2

Other exhibits and artifacts can be found on the 1st level of the Library in the Reading Room, Trent Room, and lower lobby exhibit cases. See Roentgens bust, the diver "Little Jake", a Sans Blas Indian medical fetish, and other medical artifacts.

Additional display cases are also located on the 2nd level and 3rd levels and feature treasures from Duke's Medical Center Archives.


Watch here for special events and exhibits sponsored by the Library & Archives and History of Medicine.

February 9-March 20, 2016 Exhibit

Every Necessary Care and Attention:  George Washington & Medicine -- National Library Medicine traveling exhibit.   Level 2R, next to Library's Service Desk.  Also visit the exhibit Website.

Soon to come:  Accompanying display in Level 1 exhibit cases:  Diseases of the Presidents.

Monday, March 7, 2016 5:30 p.m.
Holsti-Anderson Family Assembly Room, Room 153 Rubenstein Library, Duke University’s West Campus

Dr. Ed Halperin will present: “This is a Christian institution and we will tolerate no Jews here":  The Brooklyn Interns Hazing Episodes. Anti-semitism in U.S. medical education rarely flared into acts of violence; except in Brooklyn. Presenting the results of recently completed research, Dr. Halperin will describe the assaults on the Jewish interns of Kings County Hospital in 1916 and 1927 and the implications of these assaults for the contemporary debate on immigration and higher education.
Dr. Halperin is Chancellor  and Chief Executive Officer at New York Medical College and Professor of Radiation Oncology, Pediatrics, and History as well as Provost for Biomedical Affairs at Touro College.

This event is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served. Sponsored by the Trent Associates for the History of Medicine Collections in the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.





Medical Garden Pamphlet

A guide to medicinal herbs.  Contact Library Administration 919.660.1150 for a free copy.

Foundations for Excellence:  75 years of Duke Medicine.  Written by Walter E. Campbell.  Duke University 2006.

A historical look at the development of Duke medical center, hospital, school of medicine, and research enterprise.

$20.00  Contact Library Administration 919.660.1150 for more information; copies are also for sale at the Library's Service Desk.