Special Collections of the Biomedical Library

The antique collection of the Biomedical Library was formed around a core group of books collected in 1679 in the Arcispedale of Santa Maria Nuova, which in later centuries was enriched by book donations from the doctors and professors working at the hospital, many of whom left in legacy to the Library (in the nineteenth century transferred from the hospital to the Institute for Vocational and Advanced Studies, ancestor of the University of Florence) even their personal archives of thousands of handwritten papers.

Among the earliest donors there are Scipione Ammirato and Vincenzo Viviani; later, other donors distinguished themselves for the large quantities of books and documents that they left as a legacy, among which, Vincenzo Alberti, Pietro Betti, Carlo Burci, Pietro Cipriani, Vincenzo Chiarugi, Augusto Michelacci, Filippo Pacini, Pietro Vannoni, Ferdinando Zannetti.

Each year the Library organizes exhibitions of its antique collections to make it known outside its walls to the community at large.

The Biomedical Library and the University Library System are continuously investing resources for the implementation of their ambitious digitization projects: presently we have put online more than 90 thousand records of the historical paper catalogue, part of the handwritten archival collections, the records of the ancient Medical College and the texts of the incunabola and of several other antique printed books.

The Antique Collection

The antique collection of the Biomedical Library consists of material acquired by the Hospital of Santa Maria Nuova since 1679, then by the Institute of Vocational and Advanced Studies since 1859, and by the University of Florence from 1924.

It consists of tens of thousands of volumes of printed journals and about 30 thousand monographic works and brochures, thus divided:

    volumes (12 works)
  • BOOKS FROM THE 1500s:
    volumes (higher number of works)
  • BOOKS FROM THE 1600s:
    volumes (of which 2 in atlas format)
  • BOOKS FROM THE 1700s:
    volumes (of which 13 in atlas format)
  • BOOKS FROM THE 1800s:
    volumes (of which 120 in atlas format)
    5,100 pamphlets (roughly) in the biographical section on ancient physicians, in the geographical section, in the section on conferences and of other thematic sections (publications, apart from a few specimens of the eighteenth century, mostly dating from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
    2045 miscellaneous folders (partly unbound, kept in wooden or cardboard containers), containing about 20 leaflets each (about 40,900 leaflets in total, each folder with its own inventory). Around 1700 folders (or boxes) contain almost exclusively leaflets (34,000) published in the 1800s. Of the 345 remaining folders (or boxes - about 6900 items) there are 60 leaflets of the sixteenth century, 607 of the seventeenth century, 847 of the eighteenth century and the remaining (approx 5380) of the twentieth century.

Other collections

Collections of the former Department of Preclinical and Clinical Pharmacology

About three hundred volumes, published between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries, donated in 2011 to the Medicine branch of the Biomedical Library. Among the works is a valuable Miscellanea Medico-physica of 1572 and the Commentaries of the humanist doctor Pietro Andrea Mattioli, published in Venice in 1565.


Collection of the former Institute of Eye Medicine

More than six hundred volumes, published between the end of the nineteenth century and the first decades of the twentieth, and about 200 journals both Italian and foreign, transferred to the Medicine branch of the Biomedical Library between 2010 and 2014. The inventory and reorganisation of this collection have recently been completed by Dr. Riccarda Bernacchi as part of the "Beyond the cure"project, with the support of the Biomedical Library. The antique collection, known as Fondo Magni, collects forty volumes including eye atlases and interesting works of the eighteenth century.

Monographies and Journals

Fedele Fedeli Collection

Received as a gift in 1981, it consists of about 600 volumes on medical topics, dating from the nineteenth century to the first half of the twentieth.


Camillo Arturo Torrigiani Collection

Received as a gift in 1948, it consists of 699 volumes on medical subjects, dating from the late nineteenth century to the first half of the twentieth.

Monographs and Journals

Collection of the former Department of Dermatology

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