Historical Collections & Services



Micaela Sullivan-Fowler,
Curator/History of Health Sciences Librarian
Head of Marketing & Communications
micaela.sullivan-fowler at wisc.edu
(608) 262-2402

9:00 am to 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday
vault materials will not be paged after 4:30 pm

3rd floor of the Ebling Library
750 Highland Ave.

Welcome to Historical Services at the Ebling Library. We are home to rare books, documents, and reference sources documenting the history of the health sciences from 1490 through the early twentieth century.

We can accommodate nearly any scanning, photocopying or photography need. Just ask!

Historical Reading Room photo

Historical Services at the Ebling Library maintains one of the preeminent collections of rare and older health sciences books in the country. Ranging in date from the late fifteenth century to the early twentieth century, the collection encompasses the development of western medicine and related disciplines as it is recorded in books, journals, and pamphlets.

Titles in the collection can be found by searching the Library Catalog where their location is identified as "Ebling Historical Vault". Guidelines for access to these materials can be found on the Using the Collections page.

Rare books in the Historical Collections have been amassed over time in large part due to generous donations from benefactors. Their contributions continue to represent some of the best items in the collection, and they illuminate general subject strengths, such as anatomy and vaccination, which we continue to collect. The collections have also grown through the timely purchase of major groups of materials, made possible by further donations and skillful pursuit by former health sciences librarians, like Helen Crawford. For a look at a few of these collections and the stories behind them, choose from the links below:


The Historical Reading Room is open to all who need comfort, quiet, and a place to study or to use Ebling Library's historical resources. For more about the Historical Collections.

If you are in need of an item listed in the Library Catalog that indicates “Ebling Library Historical Vault” please complete our online form. The item will be retrieved for you to consult in the Historical Reading Room. If you are visiting us in person, there are Vault request forms in the Historical Reading Room which you may use to request items.

Historical Services provides access to rare books and documents that are often fragile and in need of special handling to ensure their preservation. If you are using historical materials in the reading room, we ask that you observe the following guidelines:

  • No food or drink is allowed.
  • Only pencils are to be used for note taking.
  • Never make marks or notations in the material.
  • Materials never circulate or leave the Historical Reading Room.
  • If you are in need of scans or photocopies, they will be made by the staff. Slips will be provided to mark the pages you would like reproduced.
  • When you have finished consulting an item, it should be returned to the staff.

Exhibits or lectures may occasionally affect the hours of the HRR, but generally our hours will reflect the hours of the building.

Micaela Sullivan-Fowler is the liaison for the Department of Medical History & Bioethics and answers history of the health sciences inquiries for the UW community and outside researchers.

Micaela teaches instructional workshops on how do to primary and secondary research in the history of the health sciences. She also serves as the curator of Ebling's Rare Books & Special Collections and is the curator of historical exhibitions at Ebling. The Research Guide for the History of the Health Sciences can get you started with various primary and database resources. Please contact Micaela at micaela.sullivan-fowler@wisc.edu or 608 262-2402 for further assistance.

You may also want to familiarize yourself with the Historical Collections here at Ebling Library.

Historical Vault Request

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Book Request

Journal Request

Additional Information

Page last updated: December 20, 2017
Questions or suggestions? Contact Micaela Sullivan-Fowler