Rare Books

Rare books in Historical Collections & Archives are included in the library catalog. Our rare book holdings can be described as "a collection of collections." Each collection is unique, and has its own story. Expand each section below to learn about our collections.

Consisting of over 3,000 titles from the early 16th to mid-20th centuries, the History of Medicine Collection is the most extensive of HC&A's rare book collections, with a strong relationship to campus history and the local medical community.

The collection began development under Bertha Brandon Hallam, the first professional librarian at University of Oregon Medical School. Beginning in 1919, Hallam engaged the support of the Portland Academy of Medicine (PAM), the city’s leading organization for medical professionals. PAM directly funded many rare book acquisitions, and facilitated donations of books from members throughout the 20th century.

In the early 20th century, George Emanuel Burget, Ph.D., Chair of the UOMS Library Committee, donated his own book collection to the library. Included were several works by Claude Bernard; Félix Vicq-d’Azyr’s 1786 Traité d'anatomie et de physiologie; and titles by Marcello Malpighi, John Hunter, Alexander von Humboldt, Antoine Laurent Lavoisier, R.T.H. Laennec, and many more. PAM and Library Committee members including Adalbert Bettman, M.D., Noble Wiley Jones, M.D., and Ernst A. Sommer, M.D., also made individual donations of rare books. An important donation from Joseph Leggett Miller, M.D. brought works by Roger Bacon, Hermann Boerhaave, Richard Bright, Ambroise Paré, and Benjamin Rush, along with dozens of other titles.

In 1964, the History of Medicine Room was established through the support of PAM and the medical school. At this time the History of Medicine Collection included around 400 16th-19th century volumes.

In 1980, biophysicist and inventor Norman Holter donated his copy of the 1555 edition of Andreas Vesalius’ De humani corporis fabrica to the library. As one of the greatest works of Western medicine and a landmark of the Renaissance, Holter’s donation raised the profile of OHSU Library’s rare book collections, and encouraged future donations of rare medical classics.

Thanks to donations from faculty, alumni, and the general public, the History of Medicine collection today includes over 3000 titles, and is among the finest institutional collections of rare books in the Pacific Northwest.

The History of Dentistry Collection originated in the School of Dentistry’s library in the 1970s, under the guidance of J. Henry Clarke, D.M.D., and the school’s History of Dentistry Committee. The dental school built the History of Dentistry Collection to around 550 titles from the 18th century to the early 20th century, with strengths in orthodontics, periodontology, anesthesiology, pathology, oral surgery, and dental practice in the Pacific Northwest.

In 2003, the collection and its oak bookcases were transferred to OHSU Library. The transfer of the collection to OHSU Library established a new partnership for preserving and providing access to the school’s unique historical collections. Since 2003, over 100 additional titles have been added to the collection, including several historic works on 18th-19th century dental anatomy and technology.

Archive photo of Dr. Donald (Don) Trunkey with other surgeons
Donald D. Trunkey, M.D., circa 1980s.

When Dr. Donald D. Trunkey was just five years old, he was taught to read by his aunt, a teacher at the Southern Oregon College of Education (now Southern Oregon University). He quickly devoured all the works of Zane Grey and other adventure tales—fitting subject matter for a young boy growing up on the Palouse. He remembers first falling in love with history on reading Francis Parkman's classic, The Oregon Trail (1847), and for a time he thought about becoming a history teacher.

But an early experience, combining tackle football and a clothesline pole—which resulted in an epiphyseal fracture and dislocation of the wrist—brought Trunkey into contact with the local general practitioner. Over the course of the several hours it took the physician to set the break, and the weeks of subsequent cast repair, Trunkey got to know the doctor and soon decided that medicine was the direction he wanted to take.

Combining his love of medicine and history, Trunkey began collecting classic medical texts. His first notable purchase was Walter Cannon's Traumatic Shock (1923); books soon followed, many from the book lover's paradise known as the Old Hickory Bookshop. His best find to date is a manuscript letter from Baron D.-J. Larrey, Napoleon's surgeon, describing the relative merits of the climates of London and Florence.

Dr. Trunkey donated many titles from his personal library to OHSU’s Department of Surgery.  In 2015, selected rare books from the collection were transferred to Historical Collections & Archives, where they are now available to the OHSU community and the public for research.  These include an English translation of Dominique Jean Larrey’s Surgical Essays, and other classics in military medicine and trauma surgery. 

Portrait of Frank G. Everett, D.M.D., posed in suit.
Dr. Frank G. Everett (photo courtesy of Everett family)

Dr. Frank G. Everett was born in Vienna, Austria, in 1907. He graduated from the University of Vienna Medical School in 1932 and received a Dental License from the University of Vienna Dental School two years later. In the late 1930s, Everett and his wife, Leonie Lea Everett left Austria for America. They visited a number of cities in the United States and, by 1939, had arrived and decided to stay in Portland, Oregon. Here, Dr. Everett continued his education, receiving a D.M.D. from North Pacific College in 1941 and a Master of Medical Science from the University of Oregon Medical School in 1948. He served on the faculties of both the Dental and Medical Schools from 1939 continuously up to his passing in 1976; at the time of his death he held the rank of Professor Emeritus in the Department of Periodontology.

Dr. Everett began his contributions to research, literature and dentistry early in his career. He wrote more than 60 papers for national and international dental and medical journals, served as co-author of four editions of Orban's Periodontics, and contributed to four other texts. He was a distinguished Fellow of the American Academy of Periodontology, recipient of the Orban Memorial Award from Loyola University (Chicago), honorary member in Verein Osterreichischer Zahnarzte (Vienna), and Guest Speaker of the Main Address at the Sesquicentennial Celebration for the University of Vienna Dental School in 1971 on which occasion he was named “Outstanding Alumnus and Teacher” and had his portrait hung alongside the other “Greats of the Vienna Group” (Bernhard Gottlieb, Balint Orban, Harry Sicher, Joseph Peter Weinmann).

OHSU’s Historical Collections & Archives is home to the Frank G. Everett papers, which document his research and scholarly output, and the Frank G. Everett Historical Collection, which consists of many books collected by Everett once housed in the Everett Library within OHSU’s School of Dentistry. These volumes were donated to HC&A when the school relocated to the Skourtes Tower on OHSU’s South Waterfront campus. Since the initial donations, additions have been made by the Everett family.

First developed under the direction of Bertha Hallam, the Sydenham Collection contains 19th-century books published by the Sydenham Society and the New Sydenham Society, London-based publishers of reprints of classic medical works.

First developed under the direction of Bertha Hallam, the First Class Collection was built from a list of the textbooks used by students in the first session of the University of Oregon Medical School (1887-1888). It provides a fascinating glimpse of 19th century medical education.