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University of Iowa News Release

Dec. 6, 2005

Martin Rare Book Collection Catalog Goes Online

"Heirs of Hippocrates," a catalog of the works found in the John Martin Rare Book Room of the University of Iowa's Hardin Library for the Health Sciences, is now available in an electronic version on the Web.

"Heirs of Hippocrates" is recognized by librarians, medical historians and book collectors as a source of authority that has taken its place as one of the premier reference books on the history of medicine and medical bibliography," said Edwin Holtum, curator of the Martin Rare Book Room. "We're pleased to make the collection available in electronic form."

The John Martin Rare Book Room contains more than 5,000 medical books from the 15th through the 20th centuries that demonstrate the advances made in the health sciences. Many of the volumes contain intricate illustrations and are as valuable as works of art as historical and scientific documents. The electronic version of the catalog can be found on the Web at

In its book form, "Heirs of Hippocrates" is a 700-page catalog that describes many of the most important works to be found in the John Martin Rare Book Room. Now in its third edition, "Heirs of Hippocrates" is a thoroughly researched and annotated scholarly sourcebook for the history of medicine. It is frequently cited and quoted alongside such other respected compendia as Morton's Medical Bibliography.

Holtum said that the new electronic version will include some illustrations taken from the collection, as well as all other content found in the print version. The electronic edition will also provide access in new ways, such as searchable text and complex searches. The database can also be updated immediately, unlike the print version, which hasn't been updated since 1991.

The John Martin Rare Book Room is named in honor of Dr. John Martin, a physician in Clarinda, Iowa, whose donation of thousands of medical history books he acquired from the 1940s to his death in 1996 make up the core of the collection.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Service, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Tom Snee, 319-384-0010,