Tucked away on the upper level of the Norris Medical Library on the USC Health and Sciences Campus, the Rare Books Room holds the Salerni Collegium History of Medicine Library, holding some 1500 volumes dedicated to the history of medicine.
The works span the centuries from the 16th to 20th centuries, including 80 rare folio volumes. The room also holds the Far West Medicine collection, comprised of 90 titles specifically dedicated to the history of medicine in California and the west.
Highlights of the collection include the anatomist William Hunter’s 1774 The Anatomy of the Human Gravid Uterus, illustrated with nearly life-sized and extremely detailed anatomical engravings of the female pregnant torso in various states of dissection. These extraordinary images by Dutch illustrator Jan van Rymsdyk were some of the first realistic depictions of female anatomy in print, and many still find their stark realism disturbing today.
A copy of Micrographia by Robert Hooke, first published in 1665, shows the first images of objects too small to see in detail with the naked eye. The showpiece is an oversized, gorgeously meticulous depiction of a flea, becoming monstrous at this scale.
The library also holds a 1639 copy of Francis Bacon’s Sylva Sylvarum:Or a Natural History in Ten Centuries, a variety of antiquarian botanical works, and a delightful little practical guide to Phrenology.