D. H. Rankin Medical Artifacts Collection

Identity elements

Reference code

MS 160

Level of description



D. H. Rankin Medical Artifacts Collection


  • 1800-2000 (Creation)


18 cubic feet (24 boxes)

Name of creator

(1949 -)

Biographical history

Family physician Douglas H. Rankin was born August 23, 1949.

Content and structure elements

Scope and content

The D.H. Rankin Medical Artifacts Collection was donated by Dr. Rankin, a family physician in Austin, Texas. Dr. Rankin had a personal interest in hearing related devices and early twentieth century quack medical devices. Dr. Rankin acquired artifacts from online auction sites, auction houses, and catalogs. Receipts and sale information for some items are included in the control folder.

Highlights of the collection include bloodletting tools, vibratory quack medical devices, drug bottles with original medicines, and alcohol prescriptions during the United States prohibition era.

The collections of materials are dated from 1700 through 1950. The bulk of materials are from the late nineteenth to early twentieth century. The materials are predominantly from the United States with a few outliers from Great Britain, China, Mexico, and Denmark.

The collection totals 36 cubic feet and 20 boxes. Many objects are oversized and thus not stored in any box. The majorities of artifacts are stored in their original boxes and complete with promotional material where applicable. The condition of objects are, on average, very good. Damage is usually only present on the original boxes. Drugs and liquids have been saved and are stored separately in water tight bags. Care should be taken when unpacking boxes and unwrapping items as some items are sharp and/or have mechanical blades.

Subjects: medical quackery, early medicine, medical realia, rare books

System of arrangement

The collection is arranged within five series with the bulk items belonging to Series I: Deaf Treatments and Series II: Medical Devices. When the collection was obtained an inventory list was provided with an organizational schema present. Dr. Rankin attributed a letter-number classification system to the bulk of the items in the collection. This classification system has been maintained and noted in the detailed description of contents. Some items may have been reorganized though no new letter-numbers assigned.

Conditions of access and use elements

Conditions governing access

Physical access

Materials are in good condition.

Technical access

Conditions governing reproduction

Languages of the material

  • English

Scripts of the material

Language and script notes

Finding aids

Finding aid is available.

Uploaded finding aid

Acquisition and appraisal elements

Custodial history

The donated materials also included a number of rare books that been separated from the collection and will be added, if deemed appropriate, to the McGovern Rare Books Library.


Immediate source of acquisition

Deed of gift signed by Doug H. Rankin, M.D. 11/6/2012

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information


No accruals are expected.

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Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

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Notes element

Specialized notes

  • Citation: D. H. Rankin Medical Artifacts Collection; MS 160; 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: A large number of items are stored open on the shelves. Some boxes contain sharp objects, liquids, and medication. All electric items are believed to work unless otherwise stated. Caution when handling boxes and/or items. Many items have been located and inventoried in the Garment Artifacts and Framed (GAF) section. Each assigned a GAF ID number.

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Description control element

Rules or conventions

Sources used

Archivist's note

Processed by Kate Wilson, March 28, 2013.

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