Navigation auf


University Library Zurich

History of Medicine

Collection for the History of Medicine

The history of medicine collection originates largely from the former Medical History Institute and corresponding Museum of the University of Zurich. The basis for the library was the collection of the Zurich physician and medical historian Gustav Adolf Wehrli (1888-1949). It was expanded through acquisitions and donations. Today it represents one of the most important medical history libraries in the German-speaking world.

Collection size 68'000 items
Publication date 1485 - 2000
Database swisscovery
Order requests via swisscovery

The collection can be accessed in the reading room, with documents published after 1900 being loanable. Documents that have been printed before 1800 and folios have a processing period of two days.

Digitization Copy request via swisscovery

Special Collections

Antiquarian prints

The collection of medical prints from the 15th, 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries includes important publications of the time. It entails a comprehensive collection of the publications of the Zurich city physicians. The approximately 1700 old prints are displayed separately.


The collection of folios includes many plate volumes with prints as well as individual volumes with early photographs and X-rays. Thematically, anatomy, obstetrics, and dermatology are strongly represented. The folios are shelved separately.

Library of Henry E. Sigerist (1891-1957)

The Swiss American medical historian taught in Leipzig under Karl Sudhoff and at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. It includes old prints and works on early medieval medicine, American public health, medicine in the Soviet Union, South America, Africa, and India. The books were integrated into the collection for medical history after being purchased in 1957. A printed catalog is available.

Library of Jürgen Thorwald (Pseudonym von Heinz Bogartz, 1915-2000)

Thorwald was a german writer and author of non-fiction books for a broad audience. The collection includes many popular science works, some of which are very rare from the 20th century on criminal medicine, sexuality, female emancipation, medicine and war, and the history of surgery. Personal notes of the author accompany many titles. The titles are not listed in the catalog for the library for the history of medicine.

Library of Dr. Max Bircher-Benner

Bircher was a Swiss physician, nutritional reformer, and director of the clinic "Living Strength". He is also known as the inventor of the Birchermüesli. His collection includes works on nutrition, alternative medicine, exercise therapy, and cookbooks. Titles are integrated into the catalog offer the library of the history of medicine.

Health Resort Collection

Special prints and advertising brochures on Swiss and international health resorts of unknown origin are partly cataloged individually, partly in dossiers. The boxes are arranged separately from the rest of the collection for the history of medicine.