Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Gems of the collection: Smallpox and vaccination

Tuesday 19 February
12 noon - 2.00pm
South Courtyard, opposite Manson LT

"... the most complete library in this country of the old literature of small-pox, variolation, and vaccination." [1]

This is how the BMJ described the book collection of Dr Richard James Reece in his obituary. The BMJ was unsure what would happen to Dr Reece's collection but hoped that it would be kept together and available for future consultation. Happily the Library & Archives Service obtained Dr Reece's collection in 1930, and you now have a chance to view some of its gems.

Items from the Library's Reece Collection will be displayed, together with other items on vaccination and smallpox from the Rare Books and Archives collections. Highlights include:

  • 1st and 2nd editions of Edward Jenner's Enquiry, owned and annotated by the Southampton Anti-Vaccination League.
  • The letters of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, describing the process of variolation used by the Turks in the early 18th century.
  • Items written by prominent members of the National Anti-Vaccination League, including William Tebb and Alfred Wallace.
  • Manuscripts from Sir Leonard Rogers on forecasting epidemics, including smallpox.
  • A 1937 reprint of Thomas Thatcher's Guide to the common-people of New England... from 1677, commonly thought to be the first medical publication of North America.
  • Letters from Sir Ronald Ross on prevention of disease in India, including smallpox.
  • A radio script from 1968 on 'The continuing problem of smallpox'.
There is no need to book, just come along to view the items. Due to the rarity, value and fragility of the items, we ask that you wash your hands before touching the exhibits and consume your lunch elsewhere. The exhibition is only available to view by current staff and students at LSHTM.
All items included in the Gems of the Collection are available to view in the Library on request. Our website contains further details on our Archives Collections and our Rare Books collections.

Image taken from Edward Jenner, An Inquiry into the Causes and Effects of the Variolæ Vaccinæ, a Disease Discovered in Some of the Western Counties of England, Particularly Gloucestershire, and Known by the Name of the Cow Pox (London: Printed for the author by Sampson Low ... and sold by Law ... and Murray and Highley, 1798)
[1] Obituary: Richard James Reece, C.B. M.D., Senior Medical Officer, Ministry of Health. Br Med J 1924;1:803-5.

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