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Books and Folios

The collection holds over 2,000 books covering the subjects listed. In 1790 it was decided to establish a Medical Library and started with 33 books. Each year the infirmary gave an allowance to purchase more books and folios. Local doctors and residents would donate books and medical staff who retired donated their medical library contents to increase the number of books that could be borrowed.

Subjects Covered


  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Alternative medicine
  • Atlases – geographical and geo-medical
  • Biographies of doctors and nurses
  • Chemistry
  • Dermatology
  • Dietetics and Nutrition
  • Ear, Nose and Throat and Oral Surgery
  • Forensics and Toxicology
  • Genito-urinary
  • Gynaecology
  • History of hospitals
  • History of Medicine
  • Medicine
  • Midwifery
  • Military medicine and surgery
  • Natural history
  • Neurology
  • NHS Acts and Laws
  • Nursing
  • Obstetrics
  • Ophthalmology
  • Orthopaedics
  • Paediatrics
  • Pathology
  • Physics
  • Religion
  • Reports from other hospitals
  • Surgery
  • Vaccination and Public Health
  • Venereal diseases and Sexual Health

Ten Cases of Persons who have taken Mrs Stephen’s Medicines for the Stone.” Published 1738

Bladder stones were an extremely common and painful condition in the 18th century. In 1738 Joanna Stephens announced that she had a medicinal cure and demanded £5,000 to disclose the concoction. It was never proved to be effective, but it made Mrs Stephens very wealthy.


History of James Mitchell, a Boy Born Blind and Deaf.”  James Wardrop  Published 1813

Wardrop was a very unpleasant character, who upset many of his colleagues, verbally and in articles in the Lancet. However, he was a brilliant surgeon, particularly in the field of Ophthamology.

Tractatus de Corde” Richard Lower

 Published 1669

This was his major work on the function of the heart and lungs. He experimented with blood transfusion, and was the first Western scientist to perform a transfusion.

The archive holds a copy of the 1680, 4th edition, and was donated by William Hanbury of Kelmarsh Hall.
Gerard’s Herbal.” John Gerard
1633 edition

The herbal by Gerard gives detailed descriptions of plants. He has been criticised by modern day experts of using other herbalist’s material, and claiming it was all his own work.

The archive copy was donated by William Hanbury of Kelmarsh Hall.


The Surgeon’s Mate.” John Woodall
Published in 1639 (2nd edition)

A textbook for young sea surgeons, covering medical and surgical conditions peculiar to ships far from land. The copy we hold is one of only eleven now known to exist. Dr Wylie from Northampton wrote to Woodall asking for a cure for the plague, which is detailed in the book. This is probably the reason that we hold a copy in the archive.


A Set of Anatomical Tables of the Practice of Midwifery” William Smellie
 Published 1754

The folio clearly illustrates various methods of delivery, both routine and complicated. It has recently been alleged in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine that William Smellie and William Hunter acquired their cadavers illegally. They were party to soliciting the murder of women in the late stages of pregnancy, to dissect their corpses.

Folio donated by Dr William Kerr, physician of Northampton Infirmary.

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