Exploration, Encounter, Exchange in History

By Rebecca C. Warlow

Calling all National History Day students to explore scientific research, encounter medical discoveries, and witness the exchange of ideas among some of the world’s foremost researchers in the fields of medicine and the health sciences!

Marshall Nirenberg with molecular models, ca. 1962

Marshall Nirenberg with molecular models, ca. 1962
NLM’s Profiles in Science

Each year thousands of students participate in the Kenneth E. Behring National History Day Contest, preparing posters, web sites, plays, papers, and other projects based on the National History Day theme for the year. This year the National History Day theme is Exploration, Encounter, Exchange and will be held from June 12–16, 2016. The National Library of Medicine (NLM) is pleased to announce that for the 2016 contest we will award The National Library of Medicine’s History of Medicine prize for one outstanding entry in any category, in the Senior division, that best utilizes National Library of Medicine resources, whether primary or secondary sources, obtained through an NLM database/service such as MedlinePlus, PubMed, PubMed Central, NLM’s Digital Collections, Images from the History of Medicine, other online NLM resources, or by visiting the Library.

We invite students to explore this year’s theme at the National Library of Medicine. Through our collections students can learn about the development of medical thought from Andreas Vesalius’ 16th century ground breaking book on human anatomy De Humani Corporis Fabrica (On the Fabric of the Human Body) to Marshall Nirenberg’s Nobel Prize winning research into DNA in the 1960s to research into modern epidemics such as AIDS and Ebola. Students can encounter people whose ideas and actions changed health care such as Mike Gorman’s crusade to improve mental health care in the United States or the efforts of nurses to have the medical community recognize domestic violence as a serious health issue. Students can explore images of nursing, military medicine, public health, AIDS, and much more. NLM provides online access to thousands of articles and books, over 200 films, and 70,000 still images as well as our Profiles in Science, Turning the Pages, Food and Drug Administration Notices of Judgment, and Exhibition web sites. Students can also visit the NLM to explore our original manuscript, still image, book, and film collections.

NLM Online Resources for National History Day Projects

Four sets of hands overlap from each side of the poster-- left, right, up and down. The hands are a multicolor combination of red, green, and yellow.

A poster for Doctors without borders: partnering against Ebola, 2014
NLM #C06380

PubMed Central (PMC) is a free full-text archive of biomedical and life sciences journal literature at the U.S. National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine (NIH/NLM).

MedlinePlus has extensive information from the National Institutes of Health and other trusted sources on over 950 diseases and conditions. There are directories, a medical encyclopedia and a medical dictionary, health information in Spanish, extensive information on prescription and nonprescription drugs, health information from the media, and links to thousands of clinical trials.

14,000 rare books

200 historic films

70,000 images from the history of medicine

700 finding aids to original manuscript collections

Profiles in Science contains archival collections of twentieth-century leaders in biomedical research and public health.

Turning the Pages allows users to leaf through medical masterpieces from past centuries.

Food and Drug Administration Notices of Judgment – The FDA Notices of Judgment Collection is a digital archive of the published notices judgment for products seized under authority of the 1906 Pure Food and Drug Act.

Exhibitions and Educational Resources focus on a variety of topics including the history of forensic medicine; U.S. Civil War doctors, nurses, and disabled veterans; African-American academic surgeons; the history of women physicians; and the story of Frankenstein as it relates to medical ethics.

Resources Available for In-Person Research at NLM in Bethesda, MD

600,000 rare books, serials, pamphlets, dissertations, and journals

18,000 linear feet of manuscript collections related to medicine and scientific discoveries

150,000 prints and photographs

10,000 historic audio-visual titles

Portrait of Rebecca Warlow.Rebecca C. Warlow is Head of Images and Archives in the History of Medicine Division at the National Library of Medicine.