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The Bert Hansen collection of medicine and public health in popular graphic art

Call Number: Ms Coll 67

Scope and Contents

The Bert Hansen Collection of Medicine and Public Health in Popular Graphic Art comprises material collected over a period of thirty years by medical historian Bert Hansen to document the visual representation of medical practice and research and public health in the United States. The contents of this collection are materials produced for the general public (not medical and public health professionals) from the mid-19th through the early 21st centuries. Hansen collected popular publications containing stories about medicine and medical practitioners or containing satirical illustrations using medical imagery, and ephemera with medical themes including prints, film publicity materials, posters, calendars, and brochures for medical devices. The bulk of materials in the collection were produced in the United States between 1850 and 2010. Series I. Early publications includes German and French materials, Series III. Ephemera includes French and Canadian materials, and Series IV. Reference copies may include copies of publications from other countries.


  • 1850 - 2010


Language of Materials

Materials in the collection are in English, German, and French.

Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright status for collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.


The collection is arranged in four series: Series I. Early publications, 1850-1927. Series II. Later publications, 1920-2010. Series III. Ephemera, 1894-2008. Series IV. Reference copies, 1850-2007. The collection is further arranged by publication title, item title, and date. Much of the material is housed in archival folders of varying dimensions annotated by collection creator Bert Hansen. As a result, box and folder numbers are often non-sequential within series and sub-series.

Related Materials

Related materials may be found in Pam Coll 7 Comic book collection on medical themes and Pam Coll 8 William Helfand collection of medical ephemera held by the Medical Historical Library, Harvey Cushing / John Hay Whitney Medical Library, Yale University.


72 Linear Feet (53 boxes and 92 folders)

Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


The collection comprises material collected by medical historian Bert Hansen to document depictions of medicine and public health presented to the general population of the United States from the mid-19th through early 21st centuries. Contents of the collection were produced between 1850 and 2010 and include complete and partial issues of periodical publications, prints, posters, film publicity materials, product brochures and promotional materials, calendars, and photocopies of related materials not included in the collection.

Biographical / Historical

Bert Hansen was born on February 5, 1944 in Chicago, Illinois. He received a bachelor's degree in chemistry from Columbia College in 1965 and a doctorate in the history of science from Princeton University in 1974. In 1978 he received a Mellon Fellowship at Harvard University and taught medical history courses there until 1979. Hansen held academic appointments at State University of New York at Binghamton; the University of Toronto; New York University; and Baruch College, City University of New York. His work focused on the natural sciences and magic in the middle ages; medical history in the nineteenth century, including the development of medical education, the work of Louis Pasteur, and diagnosing homosexuality; and popular culture perceptions and representations of medicine from the 19th through 21st centuries. Hansen’s writings include numerous journal articles and book chapters and full-length publications Nicole Oresme and the Marvels of Nature: A Study of His De Causis Mirabilium and Picturing Medical Progress from Pasteur to Polio: A History of Mass Media Images and Popular Attitudes in America. Hansen is a prolific collector of publications, memorabilia, and artifacts related to his interests in medical history and mass media. In 2015, Hansen retired from Baruch College. He continues to write, collect, and present at academic conferences.

Custodial History

Gift of Bert Hansen in multiple accessions between 2015 and 2017.

Processing Information

Bert Hansen uses a database to manage his extensive holdings and items in this collection are listed as they appeared in Hansen's database. As a result, items may consist of a single image, an article with multiple images, a complete issue of a publication, a single piece of ephemera, or multiple pieces of ephemera. Multiple items from one issue of a publication may be individually listed. Data and descriptions from Hansen's database have been edited to create item scope and content notes in this finding aid. These notes may include name of artist, description of images, author, historical context, details about printing processes, and related materials. Notes may also include Hansen’s database identification numbers, which may point researchers to related materials in the collection.

The Bert Hansen Collection of Medicine and Public Health in Popular Graphic Art
Katherine Isham
December 2019
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Medical Historical Library, Cushing/Whitney Medical Library Repository

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