The Rawlinson Rare Book Collection

The Rawlinson Rare Book Collection is the health sciences rare book collection, located in the Phyllis Russell Rare Book Room at the John W. Scott Health Sciences Library at the University of Alberta. The collection is named after Dr. Herbert E. Rawlinson, an early graduate of the Faculty of Medicine and a professor of Anatomy at the University of Alberta from 1927 until he resigned in 1962 because of illness. He passed away in Victoria in 1975. His personal collection of books formed the basis of this present day special collection. The collection has grown thanks to subsequent donations and by selection.

The Rawlinson Collection consists of approximately 1500 volumes. The books may be consulted in the rare books room; however, they do not circulate due to their age, fragility, or rarity. Students, staff, faculty and members of the general public are welcome to access the collection by presenting their OneCards or other acceptable identification at the service desk of the John W. Scott Health Sciences Library.

Subject Strengths

The areas in which the collection is relatively strong are

  • Medical Education
  • Domestic Health Care (home medical manuals)
  • Epidemics and public health
  • Midwifery and women’s health
  • Western Canadian medical history
  • Neurology
  • Anatomy

Of Special Note

  • A handsome, full-size 1934 edition of Vesalius’ illustrations (Icones anatomicae) from De humani corporis fabrica, reprinted from original plates (these plates were subsequently destroyed during World War II).
  • A printer’s proof edition of Marcello Malpighi’s Opera Posthuma (1660).
  • A beautifully preserved and bound, autographed and dedicated, first edition of John Howard’s An account of the principal lazarettos of Europe (1789).
  • Dechambre’s Dictionnaire encyclopedique des sciences medicales, 1864-1869.
  • Mr. Hunter’s Anatomy Lectures, 1755. Holograph notes taken by a student of William Hunter. Donated by the Mewburn family. For a digitized version see:
  • Galen’s Librorum pram classis: naturum corporus humani – a 1590 copy with a handsome modern replica binding.
  • Guy de Chauliac’s La grande chirugie (1598) – the Sabistan of its day.
  • Corpus of the anatomical studies in the collection of Her Majesty, the Queen, at Windsor Castle – the complete anatomical drawings of Leonardo da Vinci.
  • William Buchan’s Domestic Medicine (1769) a first edition of one of the earliest home medical manuals.

If you would like to access materials from the Rawlinson Collection, see a staff member at the circulation desk of the John W. Scott Health Sciences Library.

Questions regarding resources in the Rawlinson Collection may de directed to Trish Chatterley (e-mail: