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History of Medicine

About the Collection

The Rawlinson Rare Book Collection for the health sciences is located in the Phyllis Russell Rare Book Room on the bottom floor of the John W. Scott Health Sciences Library at the University of Alberta. The collection is named after Dr. Herbert E. Rawlinson, an early graduate of the Faculty of Medicine and a professor of Anatomy at the University of Alberta from 1927 until he resigned in 1962 because of illness. He passed away in Victoria in 1975. His personal collection of books formed the basis of this present day special collection. The collection has grown thanks to subsequent donations and by selection.


The Rawlinson Collection consists of approximately 1500 volumes. The books may be consulted in the rare books room; however, they do not circulate due to their age, fragility, or rarity. Students, staff, faculty and members of the general public are welcome to access the collection by presenting their OneCards or other acceptable identification at the service desk of the John W. Scott Health Sciences Library.


The areas in which the collection is relatively strong are:

  • Anatomy
  • Medical Education
  • Domestic Health Care (home medical manuals)
  • Epidemics and public health
  • Midwifery and women’s health
  • Western Canadian medical history
  • Neurology

Items of Special Note

A handsome, full-size 1934 edition
of Vesalius’ illustrations (
Icones anatomicae)
from De 
humani corporis fabrica, reprinted
from the 
original wood blocks created
in 1543 (these plates were subsequently
destroyed during World War II).
Corpus of the anatomical studies in the
collection of Her Majesty, the Queen,
at Windsor Castle – the complete
anatomical drawings of Leonardo da Vinci.
Galen’s Librorum prima classis
naturum corporus humani – a 1590 copy
with a handsome modern replica binding.
Anatomical Lectures by Mr. Hunter,
1755. Holograph notes taken by a
student or clerk of William Hunter.
Donated by the 
Mewburn family.

These items and more in the Rawlinson!


Visit Procedures

The materials in the Rawlinson Collection are available for use by students, staff, and the general public in the library's Phyllis Russell Rare BookRoom upon presentation of valid photo identification (e.g., ONEcard, driver’s license, passport, or citizenship card with photo). Items can be viewed during the Scott library's open hours.

For each book you want to use, please record the call number, title, and author, and bring this information with you so that the book(s) can be retrieved when you arrive in the library.

Proper handling procedures must be followed at all times. 

  • All bags, briefcases, laptop sleeves, backpacks, etc. must be left at the reference desk. 
  • No food (gum and candies included) or drink is permitted.
  • Library materials are to be handled with freshly washed hands (no hand sanitizer or lotion). Washrooms are located on all levels of the Scott library. Handle all books with great care.
  • Pencils only may be used. No ink of any kind will be permitted.
  • Library materials are not to be marked or altered in any way.
  • Notebooks and laptops are permitted in the reading room.
  • Please do not place items (notebooks, phones, tablets, etc.) on the library materials.
  • Return all materials to the reference desk after use. 
  • Photography may be taken only for the personal use of the researcher. Please disable the flash on any camera or phone prior to use.

If you have any questions, please ask the service desk staff of the John W. Scott Health Sciences Library.