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The Collection

Modern medicine didn’t fall into our laps—it was discovered, sometimes painstakingly and sometimes in brilliant sparks of insight. The history of medicine in our state is vast, surprising, and completely unique. At HMS, we are proud stewards of that story.

Housed in the Watkinson Library at Trinity College, the HMS Library is a historical collection of volumes and artifacts dating back to the 1500s. Founded in the nineteenth century as a training tool for Connecticut’s medical professionals, the HMS collection has grown into something much larger. It’s a historical record that charts where we’ve been—and may very well hold the answers to current and future challenges in medicine.

Established in 1846, HMS serves as a unifying force in Connecticut's medical community, promoting knowledge sharing, insightful discussions, and educational events. Its mission encompasses addressing modern medical challenges, fostering collegiality among healthcare professionals, educating the Greater Hartford community on medical issues, empowering the next generation of medical professionals, and nurturing an interest in medical humanities, particularly the history of medicine, using the HMS Library collection as a resource.

The HMS Library collection, which represents local medical history, enriches Trinity College's Watkinson Library. It complements their holdings, including manuscripts by the Rev. Gersholm Bulkeley, a Colonial-era minister, alchemist, and surgeon. The collection includes rare books, journals, manuscripts, over 550 medical instruments dating back to the American Civil War era, and associated manuals. It is open to the public by appointment.

Trinity College offers courses on the history of medicine, making the HMS Library collection a valuable resource for those interested in this field or the history of Hartford. It also provides a platform for students to interact with medical professionals, fostering learning and networking opportunities.

Notably, the HMS Library collection moved to the Watkinson Library on August 12, 2022, marking its return to Hartford. Originally established as a training tool for Connecticut's medical professionals in the 19th century, the collection has a rich history of growth through acquisitions.