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The Mussey Collection

How to Access the Collection

  • The Henry R. Winkler Center for the History of the Health Professions at the University of Cincinnati is open by appointment only.
  • For more information or to schedule an appointment, please contact us by email at chhp@uc.edu or phone at 513-558-5120.

  • Search for digital and duplicate Collection titles

  • Search for digital Mussey Collection titles

The Mussey Collection: About the Collection Itself

“Library of 5,000 volumes and bust of Reuben Dimond Mussey presented to the Cincinnati Public Library by William Heberden Mussey.”3

“During the course of his career as a surgeon and medical educator in New England and Ohio, Mussey assembled a remarkable personal library. In size and scope, the collection is equivalent to libraries maintained by hospitals and medical societies of the period. The inventory of the Mussey collection compiled at the time of its transfer to the University numbers 3,379 book, pamphlet and periodical titles.

The Mussey collection is representative of medical book publishing and importation in the United States during the 19th century in its high percentage of British and French medical authors published between 1810 and 1850—decades during which American physicians and surgeons looked to Europe for direction in medical theory, clinical practice and surgical technique.

It also exhibits the dramatic expansion of publishing by American medical authors post∼1850. This is especially evident in the publication of surgical texts during and after the Civil War, testifying to the expanded experience and knowledge gained by American surgeons as the direct result of this conflict.

The Mussey collection is plainly the library of a surgeon…the “surgery” section of the mongraphs lists 210 titles but this provides only a partial view of the collection's surgical focus. If one examines the table of contents of almost any pre-Civil War surgical text, the chapter headings provide a surprising portrait of what fell under the surgeon's responsibility during the first half of the 19th century. In addition to the expected general and specialty surgical topics, one finds chapters on obstetrics & gynecology, venereal diseases, skins lesions and neoplasms, eye diseases, urinary tract disorders, venesection, etc.

The completeness of Mussey's vision of a medical library is evident in the remarkable number of periodicals to which he either subscribed or was able to purchase.”1


There are more than 1,300 pamphlets in the Mussey collection – bound and unbound:

  • addresses delivered by physicians
  • eulogies of deceased physicians delivered by physicians or clergymen
  • introductory & valedictory medical school lectures
  • acts of incorporation, by∼laws, & constititions of various institutions and societies
  • hospital annual reports
  • society proceedings
  • medical school annual announcements & catalogs
  • institutional and governmental committee reports
  • monographs on specific medical, surgical and public health topics
  • reprints of journal articles
  • medical school theses or dissertations
  • medical museum catalogs
  • publishers' catalogs
  • manufacturers' catalogs (including patent medicine advertising)


These 2,166 Books, Texts and Bound Pamphlets represent most medical specialities, with extensive holdings in surgical subjects:

  • general surgery
  • orthopedic surgery
  • military surgery
  • eye diseases and operative ophthalmology
  • genito-urinary disorders
  • venereal disease
  • dermatology
  • cancers (distinct from
    breast neoplasms)
  • obstetrics
  • gynecology and operative gynecology
  • rectal disorders
  • operative dentistry

Less expected subject strengths include:

  • cholera (which manifested itself several times during Mussey's career)
  • hygiene—a complex of subjects that emphasized:
    diet, rest, cleanliness, exercise, pure air, and abstinence from alcohol and tobacco as a means of preventing disease


This is largely an American collection of 370 titles, with
long runs of:

  • American journal of the
    medical sciences
  • Boston medical and
    surgical journal
  • British and foreign medico-chirurgical review (New York)
  • Medical examiner
  • Medical news and library
  • Medico-chirurgical review
  • New England journal of medicine and surgery
  • New Orleans medical journal
  • New York journal of medicine and the collateral sciences
  • Transactions of the American Medical Association
  • Transactions of the Medical Society of the State of New York
  • Transactions of the Ohio State Medical Society

…and an impressive inclusion of local and regional medical journals including:

  • Baltimore medical and philosophical lyceum
  • Carolina journal of medicine, science and agriculture
  • Columbus review of medicine and surgery
  • Journal of health (Cincinnati)2

1, 2Christopher Hoolihan. “The Reuben D. Mussey Collection at the Henry R. Winkler Center for the History of the Health Professions, University of Cincinnati Libraries.” October 2010.

3“Mussey Physicians in Each Generation for over 200 Years”, information compiled by Katherine T. Barkley, Medical Librarian, Jewish Hospital, Cincinnati, Ohio, [no date]

Henry R. Winkler Center for the History of the Health Professions

Donald C. Harrison Health Sciences Library |231 Albert Sabin Way | Cincinnati, Ohio  45267- 0574

Phone: 513-558-5120  |  Fax: 513-558-2682  

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