Duke University


The David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library is a place of exploration and discovery. For more than 100 hundred years, scholars have used these deep collections to write new histories, explore significant lives, study ecological change, trace the evolution of texts, understand cultural shifts and create new art and literature.
Over time, both our holdings and our vision have grown — expanding from an early emphasis on regional history to a global perspective and complementing a focus on traditional academic disciplines with the transformative possibilities of interdisciplinarity. Today the Rubenstein Library holds more than 350,000 rare books and 10,000 manuscript collections. These materials introduce new perspectives, challenge preconceptions and provide a tangible connection to our shared past.


The holdings of the Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library range from ancient papyri to social media. They number more than 350,000 printed volumes, more than 10,000 archival collections, in addition to extensive photography, film, and audio collections.
Research Centers & Archives include:

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Holding Highlights

The History of Medicine Collections document the history of medicine, biomedical science, health and disease.  Collection strengths include anatomy, surgery, human sexuality, materia medica, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology. Highlights include:

  • a significant 12th-century copy of the Pantegni, a Latin translation of an Arabic text that became the leading Western medical textbook
  • first edition of the classics of medical history including De humani corporis fabrica by Andreas Vesalius and De motu cordis by William Harvey
  • The Four Seasons, a unique set of seventeenth-century copperplate engravings with moveable flaps illustrating human anatomy along with allusions to alchemy, astronomy and botany
  • manuscripts by Benjamin Rush, an 18th-century physician and U.S. founding father 
  • the largest collection of ivory anatomical manikins in North America

Information for Researchers

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