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About this work


From 1903-1960 the Library existed as a section of the HMM, although housed for much of its life in separate premises, with its own administrative structure. Relations between the Library and HMM were often strained, and in 1938 Moorat recommended to the Trustees that the Library should gain independence from the HMM. A step towards this was made in 1941, when the Librarian was to report to the Director, rather than to the Conservator, and the title of Historical Medical Library was adopted. For a brief period, 1946-1947, the Library and HMM shared the same premises, at Euston Road, before the HMM was removed to Portman Square. By the time the HMM finally returned to Euston Road in 1954, the Library had developed a strong and separate identity, so that although it was still administratively subordinate to the HMM, in practice it operated as an independent unit. In 1960 the collections passed into ownership by the Trust, and the Library was no longer administratively subordinate to the HMM, but reported directly to the Trust.

The Library always had its own accessions budget, within the larger HMM budget, with a distinct series of Library registers and ledgers. However, some accessions of books and manuscripts to the Library came through the work of staff employed for the HMM, such as Paira Mall, whose collecting in India between 1913 and 1921 established the extensive collection of 'Oriental Manuscripts'. Further Library materials were acquired via the HMM, through donations and purchases from private owners and dealers.

After the opening of the HMM in 1913, some books and manuscripts were used in its displays, but the Library remained closed to readers until 1946, except for postal enquiries and reference by HMM staff. Until 1946 the Library staff concentrated on the acquisition and cataloguing of materials. The formal opening of the Library took place in Dec 1949.

The Library’s own records for the period before xxx are fairly sparse. Lists of the classification scheme are extant, but little else. However, the HMM records of Library activity may be found at WA/HMM/LI. This includes Library reports and memoranda to the Curator, ledgers and purchase books. Library personnel records are to be found at WA/HMM/ST.


1900-13 CJS Thompson appointed as Librarian

1903-4 Historical Medical Exhibition planned; collecting begins by CJS Thompson and Louis Sambon

Thompson responsible for providing library service at Snow Hill

1910 Arthur Amoruso appointed as assistant to Thompson

Paira Mall appointed as specialist in oriental languages

1911 Paira Mall sent to India to collect materials

1911 Historical Medical Museum established in 54a Wigmore Street

1913 Museum open from Jun-Oct

TW Huck appointed as Librarian (killed on Western Front 1918)

1914 Museum re-opened as WHMM; Library remains closed to readers

1919 CC Barnard appointed as Librarian

Establishment of Library classification scheme

1921 Library move from Wigmore Street to the Museum store at Stratford Mews

WRB Prideaux appointed as Librarian, part-time

1923 SAJ Moorat appointed as part-time unpaid assistant

1925 Post of Chief Librarian created; CR Hewitt appointed

Junior Assistant appointed

SAJ Moorat appointed as Assistant Librarian

1928 Library move to Museum store at Hythe Road, Willesden

1932 HMM moves to the new WRI building at Euston Road; remains closed

Library remains at Hythe Road

SAJ Moorat appointed as Chief Librarian

1934 Reference Library for HMM established at Euston Road

1936 HSW died; Library acquisition ceases, Trustees begin dispersal of Library and HMM materials

1938 Moorat's recommendations to Trustees on future of Library: calls for separation from HMM

Library purchasing budget reinstated

1940 Max Neuburger's reports on HMM and Library

1941 Librarian now to report directly to Director, rather than Conservator

Title of Wellcome Historical Medical Library adopted

Library granted accomodation at Euston Road, some books transferred from Willesden

1946 WJ Bishop appointed as Librarian

Library opens to readers

1953 FNL Poynter appointed as Librarian

1954 'Current Work in the History of Medicine' established

1955 Library refitted with appropriate shelving and furniture

1957 'Medical History' established 1958 Library store at Dartford established

1960 Ownership of collections passes to the Trustees

Library no longer subordinate to HMM

1962 Re-opening of Library after major refurbishment

1966 Trust established a Sub-department of the History of Medicine in the Department of Anatomy, UCL

1968 Name of Wellcome Institute of the History of Medicine replaced WHMM and Library

1972 Library store moves to Enfield 1973 Decision to transfer the Museum collections and for the WIHM to concentrate on academic research

1973 E Freeman appointed as Librarian

Paintings, prints, drawings, photographs transferred to Library (later to be called Iconographic Collections)

1976 Scheme of association between the WIHM and UCL and building up of Academic Unit

1977-82 Transfer of Museum collections

1981 PO William appointed as Director of Trust

1982 Staffs of the Trust and Institute administratively integrated

1986 Public flotation of the Wellcome Foundation Ltd; transfer of ownership of Wellcome Building from theCompany to the Trust

1989 Company moves out of Wellcome Building

1992 Wellcome Trust and Institute return toWellcome Building after refurbishment


1900-1913 CJS Thompson, PhD, MPS

1913-1918 TW Huck, FLA

1919-1921 CC Barnard, MLA (Assistant Librarian)

1921-1925 WRB Prideaux, BA, FLA

1925-1931 CR Hewitt, FLA (Chief Librarian)

1932-1946 SAJ Moorat, MA, DipLib (Chief Librarian)

1946-1953 WJ Bishop, FLA

1954-1964 FNL Poynter, BA, PhD, FLA (Chief Librarian 1961-1964)

1964-1973 E Gaskell, BA, ALA

1973-1996 E Freeman, BA, ALA (Deputy Director 1981-1988)

1996- D Pearson



Physical description

21 boxes

Acquisition note


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