Pamphlets and Medical Ephemera

The Historical Library holds thousands of pamphlets and medical ephemera that have not been cataloged individually. Some of the major categories of pamphlets and ephemera are listed below:


The Library has a number of uncataloged medical broadsides dating from the 17th to 20th centuries.

Connecticut medical institutions: annual reports and ephemera

Included are annual reports of Connecticut hospitals and of state and local health-related agencies from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Pamphlets from New Haven Hospitals are cataloged separately. A finding aid is available.

Hospital annual reports

The Library has a large collection of annual reports and other ephemera of nineteenth and early twentieth-century hospitals and insane asylums. Hospitals in New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and in London, England are best represented. A finding aid is available in the Library. Connecticut hospitals are included in the previous collection.

Medical school catalogs, addresses and ephemera

The Library has a large collection of catalogs and introductory and commencement addresses of American medical schools. Most date from the 19th century. There is an excellent finding aid to these materials in the Library.

Nursing school annual reports

The Library has a small collection of annual reports and other ephemera of American nursing schools. A finding aid is available in the Library.

National health-related organizations

This collection includes early pamphlets of such American national organizations as the American Child Health Association, American Cancer Society, and the American Heart Association, as well as federal agencies such as the U.S. Children's Bureau and the Public Health Service. Most of the pamphlets are directed to the public and date from 1910 to 1950.

Patent medicine almanacs

The Library has about 450 patent medicine almanacs dating from the 1840s to the 1950s. They were produced annually by patent medicine companies and distributed free through drug stores. All are American, though some are in languages other than English. A finding aid is available in the Library.

Patent medicine trade cards and other advertisements

Trade cards are small, colorful and attractive cards for advertising patent medicines. Other types of advertisements include guides to health, cookbooks, songbooks, joke books, game books, etc. Their function was similar to the medical almanacs. These items are not yet cataloged. Ask in the Library.

Spas and mineral waters

These are pamphlets and ephemera on spas and mineral waters in the U.S. and Western Europe, arranged by state and dating from 1839 to 1945. There are approximately 240 items.

State public health department pamphlets

Pamphlets issued by state departments on public health issues. Most of these were distributed to the general public and dealt with such matters as prevalent diseases, personal hygiene and safety, and community hygiene.

Yale-New Haven Hospital collection

Ephemera, brochures, correspondence from the files of Lottie Bishop, and clippings of the Yale-New Haven Hospital and its predecessors from the early nineteenth century to the 1970s. The bulk of materials are from 1900 to 1950.

Biographical information

The Library has a very large collection of pamphlet biographies, many of them reprints. There is a database of these in the Library. In addition, the Library maintains a large "vertical file" of newspaper clippings, press announcements, and other ephemera related to individuals.