San Antonio physician and historian Dr. Pat Ireland Nixon lent his name to what is now a treasure-trove of antiquarian texts, dating from the 15th to the early 20th century. Ophthalmology, surgery, and anatomy are particular strengths of the Nixon Library. Originally donated to the Health Science Center in the early 1970s by the Bexar County Medical Society, the superb core collection has expanded to contain close to 5000 volumes of treasured medical texts. Over the years, the library has endeavored to identify and digitize works from this collection that are of particular historical value, to make them available to the public online.
Bell, Charles (1774-1842). Essays on the anatomy of expression in painting. London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, and Orme, 1806.
Scottish anatomist Charles Bell’s Essays on the Anatomy of Expression in Painting was the first textbook of anatomy for painters and illustrators. In it he analyzed the anatomical basis of facial expression and the errors artists typically make by neglecting to acquire a thorough knowledge of anatomy. In a series of beautifully detailed drawings, Bell showed how facial muscles are utilized to express human passions. The Nixon Library acquired this great book through generous donations.
Brunschwig, Hieronymus (ca. 1450-ca. 1512). Dis ist das buch der Cirurgia Hantwirkckung der wundartzny von Hyeronimo brunschwig. Strassburg: [J. Grueninger], 1497.
Brunschwig’s compilation of ancient and medieval medical knowledge is the first printed surgical treatise in the German language as well as the earliest detailed description of gunshot wounds. In picturesque scenes of the doctor at his patient’s bedside, the apothecary in his pharmacy, and villagers undergoing various medical remedies, we are given glimpses not only into medical conditions of the 15th century, but also into the fashions and interior décor of the period. Strasbourg was famous as a center for scientific studies and printing, and the outstanding woodcuts produced for this book – among the earliest medical illustrations – are a testimony of its standards. This copy is number 519 printed at the presses of the Druckerei Holzer, Weiber im Allgaeu, West Germany. The plates for this printing were made from the copy of the original 1497 Strasbourg edition.
Scottish-born surgeon George Cupples moved to Texas in 1844, and subsequently served as surgeon for the Texas Rangers in the Mexican War and then for the Confederate Army. Afterwards, Cupples served as county commissioner and alderman, and as president of the Bexar County Medical Society, San Antonio Board of Health, Texas Medical Association, and the West Texas Medical Association. In this handwritten case book, Cupples captured patient notes and reports on both medical and surgical cases he treated between about 1853 and 1867.
Genga, Bernardino (1620-1690). Anatomy improv’d and illustrated with regard to the uses thereof in designing… London: J. Senex 
English translation of Genga’s Anatomia per Uso et Intelligenza del Disegno, one of the finest examples of anatomy and artistry in balance, a masterwork from the age of copperplate engraving. The drawings of the human body by Charles Errard, court painter to Louis XIV, were based on Genga’s dissections, inspired by antique Roman statuary, and originally intended for painting and sculpture classes at the French Royal Academy. The Anatomia has since become one of the most famous books on anatomy for artists.
Herff, Adolph (1858-1952). Chemistry note-book. [Lexington, Virginia: Adolph Herff, 1876?]
Chemistry student notebook of Adolph Herff, noted San Antonio surgeon. Dr. Herff received his M.D. from Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia in 1878. He returned to San Antonio in 1880 and began practice in association with his father, Dr. Ferdinand Ludwig von Herff. Dr. Adolph Herff remained in practice for fifty-five years, performing his last operation in 1933.
Herff, Ferdinand Peter (1883-1965). The doctors Herff: a three-generation memoir. San Antonio: Trinity Univ. Press, 1973.
A memoir written by Ferdinand Peter Herff, San Antonio physician, about his two ancestors, Ferdinand Ludwig von Herff and Adolph Herff, both early Texas physicians.
Banner image: Charles Bell, from Essays on the anatomy of expression in painting.