The Office of History at the National Institutes of Health is composed of an archive and the Stetten Museum which provides scholarly resources for researchers at the National Institutes of Health and the Public Health Service.

There are several places to find documents related to the history of the National Institutes of Health in the greater Washington D.C. area. This list gives a broad overview of collections open to the public and briefly explains the types of documents available and the procedures of obtaining access.


arrowOffice of NIH History

The Office of NIH History staff include a librarian/archivist and a museum curator to assist researchers. The Office contains an eclectic collection of resources, including a reference collection on NIH or Public Health Services personnel, including curricula vitae, published articles and oral histories. Print copies of the NIH Almanac, the Scientific Bibliographies, and the NIH Record as well as various Institute publications and documents, are available. The Museum maintains information on biomedical instrumentation and technologies from the 20th and 21st centuries, including a library, manual collection, and trade catalog collection. Appointments must be made to conduct research by telephone at 301.496.6610 or email at


arrowNational Library of Medicine

The National Library of Medicine is the primary institution to find published medical sources. The collections encompass scientific and medical journals, including materials on the history of medicine, an extensive collection of medical literature resources, a film and audio collection; and individual agencies publications, which can be valuable sources of information about their programs, goals, and history. Searching the NLM catalog for NIH Institute names in the subject field will generate lists of documents authored by the Institute of Medicine and others who are unaffiliated with NIH. Both primary and secondary sources are available. The History of Medicine Division is a source for journals and journal articles, many out of print or not easily available. The National Library of Medicine requires a library card to access materials at no charge.


arrowNIH Library

The NIH Library is located in the NIH Clinical Center (Building 10). This library is for NIH employees, but is open to the general public. Materials must be used onsite and digital cameras are allowed. The NIH Library holds more recent publications that may be not be held by the National Library of Medicine. These would include NIH Institute publications such as reports to Congress and reports on intramural research programs.


arrowThe Library of Congress

The Library of Congress holds documents about and hearings between Congress and the National Institutes of Health. Of note, Congressional Subcommittee Hearings are a valuable source of information about Institute goals and programs. Of interest to biomedical researchers are statements from activists and scientific or medical societies, yearly appropriations hearings, and detailed budgetary appropriations for health- care related issues. The Library of Congress holds documents regarding the implementation of laws at the Institute level as well. Materials regarding Congressional actions are available in the Law Library housed in the Madison Building. To access library collections, one can obtain a library card at no charge in the basement of the Jefferson Building.


arrowNATIONAL ARCHIVES – College Park, Maryland

The National Archives holds the records from both the Public Health Service (Record Group 90) and the National Institutes of Health (Record Group 443). These records contain internal agency documents and other materials considered as permanent records. The National Archives records schedule is 30 years. For more recent records, the researcher may use the resources held at the NIH. The NIH record guide provides a listing of materials. The Public Health Service record guide is useful for researching materials about the National Institute of Health before 1930. To utilize the materials at the National Archives one must obtain a researcher card at no charge.



The Washington National Records Center (WNRC) holds more recent materials of the National Institutes of Health for evaluation before they are added to the National Archives. The official policy at the WNRC is that any request for examination of materials must be by permission of the NIH Records Manager. WNRC does not produce guides to the materials as these are in the processing stage of evaluation. To utilize the Washington Records Center resources it is helpful to be familiar with the NIH Record Schedule which includes a list of categories used to classify the materials sent to both the WNRC and NARA.


Researcher's may find it useful to search the NIH Record online for full-text articles from 1949 to the present.

Some National Institutes of Health publications can be found searching the NIH Publications List.

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Office of History and Stetten Museum | Bldg 60 | Suite 230 | National Institutes of Health | Bethesda, MD 20814-1460
Phone: 301.496.6610 | Email:
Freedom of Information Act

Last updated: 12 January 2017
First published: 2 February 2005
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