TMC Library Historical Photograph Collection

Denton Cooley and an unidentified man in front of A Symbol of Excellence Texas Children's Hospital site Inspection Life Flight helicopter TIRR Center for Speech and Hearing Equipment Hermann Hospital gate Houston Infirmary Horace M. Wilkins Texas Children's Hospital Methodist Hospital Methodist Hospital Baylor College of Medicine aerial view of construction

Identity elements

Reference code

IC 098

Level of description



TMC Library Historical Photograph Collection


  • bulk 1940-1990 (Creation)
  • 1543-2004 (Creation)


12.5 cubic feet (16 boxes)

Name of creator


Administrative history

The McGovern Historical Center (MHC) is the historical and special collections department for The TMC Library. The MHC maintains rare book and archival collections. Artificial collections have been created to provide access to materials without clear provenance in order to increase discoverability.

The earliest acquisition records for the books in the MHC are found in the Houston Academy of Medicine’s (HAM) Library Committee reports for 1935 and 1936. Thirty Fellows of the Academy raised $300 to purchase a collection of 275 French medical books published between 1730 and 1830. In 1949, HAM and Baylor College of Medicine combined their medical libraries. In anticipation of the completion of the Jesse H. Jones Building for the library, the MD Anderson Foundation purchased the rheumatology collection of a New York physician, Dr. Reginald Burbank. This purchase was followed by a gift from the Cora and Webb Mading Foundation of more than 1,000 titles on sanitation and communicable diseases. After the 1954 dedication of the library building, many physicians donated books or historical pamphlets to be stored in a very small, locked room on the second floor. Soon after his arrival in Houston, Dr. McGovern became one of the Library’s most staunch supporters, annually supplying funds for the purchase of rare books and travel support for the librarians to attend meetings of the American Association for the History of Medicine. In 1977, The Library formed a new department with new quarters to collect historical materials and to enhance the rare book collections. In 1982, Dr. McGovern donated his personal collection of rare and historical books to the Library. In 1996 the Library’s Board of Directors named the historical department in his honor.

Content and structure elements

Scope and content

The TMC Library Historical Photograph Collection contains photographs, negatives, slides, published prints, printed materials, postcards, framed images, audiovisual materials, and a plaque. The collection consists of roughly 5300 items, which includes individual 35mm slides, 35mm negatives, 120 format negatives, photographic prints, and other printed materials. This is an artificial collection of several types of images collected by or donated to the McGovern Historical Center (MHC) through the years. The bulk of the materials date from 1940 to 1990. The entire collection depicts images from 1543 to 2004. The earliest date is related to copy photographs of pages from the 1543 edition of the Fabrica by Andreas Vesalius. Other early dates are framed prints of well-known medical pioneers from the 17th, 18th, and 19th Centuries. Some dates describe the date of the copy photograph others describe the date of the original image. The collection illustrates the history of medicine around the world and more acutely the Texas Medical Center and Texas Medical Center Library. Majority of the materials have been removed from this collection and incorporated into the original collections or new collections based on the donor records.

The collection is arranged into three series: Cataloged Photographs, Subject Photographs, and Oversize and Audiovisual Materials. Subject Photographs are arranged in files according to subject and then in alphabetical order. Subject terms used are as follows (in order): Attractions Photos, Building Photos, Event Photos, Individual Photos, Institutions and Organizations, Medical Equipment and Apparatus, and Surgical, Anatomical, and Medical Photos.

The collection was created to consolidate various photographs and images collected by the archive staff. Many were cataloged and assigned identification numbers (P-### for prints or N-### for negatives). These photographs were originally donated. The donor information in the card catalog was used to either create new photograph collections or incorporate into existing collections. This collection is comprised of the remaining items. Information about donors, if known, is available in the inventory. Uncataloged photographs were organized into general subjects and kept in alphabetical order. Oversize materials maintain the same identification number system and subjects. To increase discoverability of all archival materials, the collection was expanded to include materials with no known provenance. This includes framed items stored in the Garment Artifacts and Framed (GAF) section as well as audiovisual materials.

System of arrangement

The collection is arranged in three series:

  1. Cataloged Photographs
  2. Subject Photographs
  3. Oversize and Audiovisual Materials

Conditions of access and use elements

Conditions governing access

Material is open for research.

Physical access

Materials are in good condition.

Technical access

Digital media need computer to access.

Conditions governing reproduction

Copyright restrictions may apply. Permission to publish from this material must be facilitated through the repository, McGovern Historical Center.

Languages of the material

  • English

Scripts of the material

  • Latin

Language and script notes

Finding aids

Generated finding aid

Acquisition and appraisal elements

Custodial history


The TMC Library created the collection of photographs. It is comprised of photographic materials from various donors as well as materials acquired by the library over the years. Name of donor and date of donation are noted in the inventory if known.

Immediate source of acquisition

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information


Accruals may occur. Materials may be removed from the collection and assigned to new collections if more information about the provenance of items becomes known.

Related materials elements

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related archival materials

Notes element

Specialized notes

  • Citation: TMC Library Historical Photograph Collection; IC 098; John P. McGovern Historical Collections and Research Center, Houston Academy of Medicine-Texas Medical Center Library. Please cite the box and folder numbers where appropriate.
  • Processing information: The images were previously cataloged and housed in acid-free envelopes. At that time, a photo identification number (P-### for prints or N-### for negatives) was assigned to each photograph or group of photographs. In 2018-2019 the collection was processed as a new collection and inventoried by Archives Assistant, Gagina Leonard. The items were kept in the acid-free envelopes from the previous processing. The descriptions provided on the catalog cards were written on the envelope and inventoried, noting the description, dimensions, and quantity. The descriptive information was encoded for each envelope along with the color and quantity of photographs ([in square brackets]) in each envelope. When available, the photographer, agency, studio, or department is credited within the item description. For items without catalog cards, descriptions were created from either annotations available on the item or summarizing visual content.
  • Processing information: The collection was stored in filing cabinets until 2016 when they were rehoused in archival boxes. After materials were transferred to more appropriate collections, the remaining items were inventoried and rehoused in standard 0.5 cubic foot document boxes.
  • Processing information: Materials were arranged in ascending order according to catalog number (P-###). Oversize materials were stored in appropriate oversize boxes and placed in the oversize (OV) section. Oversize materials were separated by size between various sizes of oversize boxes. Framed images were placed in the Garment, Artifacts, and Framed (GAF) section. These items were photographed, inventoried and assigned identification numbers (GAF-####). Separation sheets were placed within the main collection boxes to help locate specific items in OV and GAF storage locations.
  • Processing information: Many items also have N-####, but P-### have been used as the main identification number.
  • Processing information: Separation sheets are available at the end of Series 1 to provide location of items transferred to other collections.
  • Processing information: Separation sheets for material moved within the collection have been interleaved by P-#### providing location information in oversize or other storage sections.
  • Processing information: Two boxes of prints were added to the collection in October 2021.

Alternative identifier(s)



Description control element

Rules or conventions

Describing Archives: A Content Standard (DACS)

Sources used

Archivist's note

Finding aid prepared by Gagina Leonard and Sandra Yates, 2019.

Archivist's note

Finding aid encoded by Sandra Yates, 2020.

Archivist's note

Additions noted by Matt Richardson, October 2021.

Access points

Accession area