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Wyndham D. Miles Papers on the History of the National Library of Medicine 1864-1984
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Collection Scope and Content Note

A history of the National Library of Medicine had been a dream of library directors ever since Dr. Frank B. Rogers began to work on one in the late 1950's, but no book-length history of the library appeared until 1982. In that year Wyndham D. Miles's A History of the National Library of Medicine: The Nation's Treasury of Medical Knowledge appeared. Miles, a historian of chemistry, had been working as a historian for the National Institutes of Health since 1962. At the direction of Dr. Martin M. Cummings, the library's director, Miles began to work on the history of the library.

The collection can be divided into three major groupings. The first consists of notes and photocopies gathered by Miles as part of his research on the history of the library. Particularly useful are the indexed notebooks used by Miles for notes on published material and manuscript material at the National Archives.

As each chapter was written, Miles sent the chapter to reviewers with special expertise on the subject matter. The drafts with the reviewers' comments, and often Miles's response, are included in the second part of the collection. The drafts are supplemented by correspondence with many of the reviewers and with others. Taken together, the drafts and correspondence provide much insight into many of the poorly documented activities of the library.

The third portion of the collection concerns the publication of the volume. Material on the preparation of the index is included, as well as sample drafts, galleys, and proof pages. Requests for review copies and letters from recipients of the history are also included. An epilogue written by Miles on the problems faced in preparing the history rounds out the collection.

Miles also conducted oral history interviews with significant figures in the Library's history. These tapes are also included in the collection, along with written summaries of their contents. No transcripts exist.

The collection serves as a valuable adjunct to Miles's published volume, and should be of interest to all who desire to know more about any particular development in the history.

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