Early Medical Printed Illustrations

This month sees the commencement of the ninth annual Manchester Science festival and by happy coincidence we are unveiling in our digital collections images from a recently completed JRRI Seedcorn project ‘Illustrations in the Early John Rylands Medical Collection ’.

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The John Rylands Library holds over 3,000 medical books printed before 1701, however, the catalogue gives minimal information on visual material within the holdings. This digitisation project was instigated by Dr Cordelia Warr to improve the information available on illustrative material within the Rylands early printed medical collections, in order to facilitate teaching and further research.

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The images selected for the project represent a range of disciplines; midwifery, anatomy, surgery and the medicinal use of plants. Research assistant on the project, Dr Hannah Priest, has supplied detailed metadata which accompanies the digital images to further enhance the information available.  The work of Cordelia and Hannah on these fascinating early printed texts will undoubtedly inspire greater interest in the early printed medical collections held by Library. More importantly, it will further a better understanding of the place of illustrative material in medical publications generally, many of which, up to the nineteenth century, were not illustrated or were only minimally illustrated.

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All images Copyright of the University of Manchester.

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