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Galter Library Special Collections

Information on Galter Library's rare books, archives, and historical artifacts.


This is the legacy collection of the Northwestern University Dental School’s nearly comprehensive rare book holdings on the history of western dentistry. A special effort was made to collect early works on anesthesia, a topic of particular interest to the founders. Highlights include Cirurgia magistri Petri de largelata (1499), Artzneybuch (1549), the first book on dentistry, multiple editions of Pierre Fauchard’s Le Chirurgien Dentiste, and Practical Observations on the Human Teeth (1783) by Robert Wooffendale, the first dentist to practice in the United States.

In addition to rare books, the collection holds engravings and prints, archives, artifacts, and more. The archival holdings are mainly comprised of the historical records, papers, photographs, and more, detailing the history of the Dental School and its alumni/ae and faculty, the largest of which is the G.V. Black Collection. 

The A.D. Black Historical Dental Collection is a closed collection and the Special Collections Department does not collect in this area.

Collection Resources

The Digitized G.V. Black Collection

The digitized collection of G.V. Black represents just a portion of the larger collection. It consists of 43 manuscripts, 100 letters, and several photographs covering the period between 1867 and 1915. Some of the more important items in the collection are: correspondence between Dr. Black and Dr. Frederick S. McKay that focuses on mottled enamel of teeth and early hypotheses on water and fluoridation; correspondence, program announcements, and other memorabilia from the World Dental Congress held in conjunction with the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893; a manuscript on zoo chemistry.
Searchable finding aid.

Annotated Bibliography

A catalogue of the rare book collection in the Northwestern University Dental School Library. Chicago: Northwestern University Dental School Library; 1976. Available at Galter Health Sciences Library and Main Library.