The origin of the Rudolph Matas Library dates from the founding of the Medical College of Louisiana (now Tulane University School of Medicine) in 1834, with the first mention of the Library in the faculty minutes of the College in 1844. The historic medical collection contains a wealth of early American medical journalism, treatises and pamphlets, many published in Louisiana from the period before the Civil War. Many of the historic works in the collection are now available electronically via various projects such as HathiTrust and Internet Archive. The Library is in the process of reconversion of the old materials that are only identified the Library’s card catalog. Works are being identified for possible digitization while links to the stable digital projects are added to the catalog record. The online cataloging will improve the discovery of historic publications from the nineteenth century and early twentieth century. In addition, Matas Library hopes to continue to identify, digitize, and widely share the content of the fragile 19th – early 20th century bound local journals, pamphlets, reports, books of importance to medicine in Louisiana, and topical subjects such as yellow fever and other past epidemics. Documenting and describing via various metadata our various artifacts, rare and fragile materials are also a part of this collection is part of the digitization plan.
Previous digitization projects supported by a grants digitized the Registre du Comité médical de la N’ell. Orléans, 1816-1854, a manuscript, and also the Report of the Board of Administrators of the Charity Hospital, to the General Assembly of Louisiana (also known as Charity Hospital Reports, 1842-1974). These reports were published in Louisiana as state government reports and seem to be unique to the Matas Library collection. The reports contain morbidity and mortality information for New Orleans, including the yellow fever epidemics, venereal disease statistics along with physician information. The Matas Library is included in the Tulane University Digital Library (TUDL), a project of Howard-Tilton Memorial Library in the production and delivery of digitized and native digital holdings that support the teaching, research and public service goals of the University. We coordinate and work closely with the Digital Initiatives & Publishing Department and University Archivist on our projects. We are currently in the process of moving from Contentdm to Islandora with the support and direction of the TUDL staff.