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W. Bruce Fye History of Medicine Library: Home

W. Bruce Fye History of Medicine Library


The W. Bruce Fye History of Medicine Library is a specialized library housing important collections in the history of medicine and allied sciences. Several thousand volumes of rare medical classics (from 1479) and early journal literature (from 1665) comprise the core collection of primary literature on all aspects of medicine and allied fields.  More recently published histories, biographies, facsimiles, and other support materials comprise the remainder of the collection of some 23,000 total volumes.  Special strengths include anesthesiology, cardiology, dermatology, immunology, ophthalmology and neurology.  The library also has a large collection of Mayo physician bound reprints. 

Library Catalog
The W. Bruce Fye History of Medicine collection can be searched online at 

Borrowing Privileges
Older works are non-circulating and may be used by calling for an appointment (266-7425). Contemporary support materials (recently published historical accounts, biographies, etc.) are available for circulation. Borrowing privileges are extended to faculty, students and employees of Mayo Clinic.


  • Tours by appointment only
  • Reference consultations
  • Image research for historical medical figures and subjects
  • Digital imaging by arrangement 

Loan Policies

  • Classic monographs and journals: non-circulating
  • Selected contemporary monographs/journals: Two weeks, two renewals
  • Media: Two weeks, two renewals

Hours and Access

The W. Bruce Fye History of Medicine Library is located on the 15th floor of the Plummer Building.

Research access and tours are available Monday - Friday 8:00 am - 4:00 pm by appointment only. At least 24 hours notice is preferred. 

Call or email for arrangements: 

Emily Brown, Librarian


Upcoming Events

Please join us for our next hybrid History of Medicine Society Lecture on Wednesday, March 13th at 6:00 pm CT. 

"A Monument to Suffering and to Patience": The Harrowing Journey of Nabby Adams through Breast Cancer 

Presenter Rafael E. Jimenez, M.D., M.H.A.
Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
Mayo Clinic Division of Anatomic Pathology, Rochester, MN 

Library Company, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

In 1813, Abigail “Nabby” Adams, the daughter of the second president of the United States, John Adams (1797–1801), passed away from metastatic breast cancer. Her ordeal began in 1810, at age 44, when she discovered a lump in her right breast. She consulted with Dr Benjamin Rush, one of the most prominent physicians of the time and a signer of the Declaration of Independence, which resulted in a recommendation for an immediate mastectomy. The surgery was performed at her parent’s home in Quincy, Massachusetts, by Dr John Warren. The crude and painful nature of the surgical procedure was highly traumatic to Ms. Adams and her family. After a few months, she returned to her home in rural New York. Within a few months she began feeling generalized pain. When it was evident that her symptoms were the result of disseminated breast cancer, she returned to her parents’ house, where she died on August 15, a mere 22 months after her surgery. Ms. Adams’ suffering through the stark treatment was the result of a unique historical period, when the medical community had just recently dismissed Galen’s paradigms, but still lacked a basic knowledge of the disease’s nature or the ability to administer painless, safe surgical treatment.

Phillips Hall  
Lecture to begin at 6:00 p.m. CT 
Light buffet served at 5:30 p.m. CT

RSVP for In-Person Attendance is required by 3/5/24. Register online through the button below or contact Emily Brown at or 507-284-3676. 



Please click the link below to join the webinar for online attendance: M2lUOHlTT1VSaUtuZ2NNRGJwdz09
Passcode: 650410 
Webinar ID: 928 2222 6645

Previous lectures are available on the Video Exchange and additional information is available here

For more information contact 

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