On September 30, the National Library of Medicine re-launched Profiles in Science. The new platform, integrated with NLM Digital Collections, supports growing functionality for public access, engagement with, and sharing of these digital resources documenting the history of science, medicine, and public health in the 20th- and 21st-centuries. Profiles in Science is an online archive of more than 30,000 digitized items selected from the Archives and Modern Manuscripts collections of NLM’s History of Medicine Division and from the collections of collaborating institutions. The site features over 40 collections of digital content and continues to grow. Through primary source materials and accompanying biographical narrative texts researchers can explore stories of scientific discovery, achievements in clinical medicine, and advances in public health. Information about navigating the site is available on Profiles in Science collection homepages and on the About page.
Each name on the Profiles in Science home page links to a collection (or “Profile”) focused on an individual and selections from his or her personal papers. From the menu bar, “The Story” provides access to in-depth biographical narrative texts organized chronologically with an aim to share how the individual became interested in science, his or her career path, as well as challenges and obstacles faced along the way. The Michael E. DeBakey Profile, for example, tells the story of a legendary American surgeon, educator, and medical statesman whose work transformed cardiovascular surgery, raised medical education standards, and informed national health care policy. Readers learn about Debakey’s life growing up in Louisiana, his mentors, surgical colleagues, and the influence of his sisters Lois and Selma DeBakey. Alongside “The Story,” researchers can select “Collection Items” from the menu bar to browse the digitized collection items in list, gallery, or slideshow views. You can browse all items in a Profile, or sets of documents (texts), visuals, or moving images only. Within the DeBakey collection you can see a variety of document types, including photographic prints, correspondence, published and unpublished articles, oral histories, diaries, and much more. These items tell their own stories—of DeBakey’s early interests in and outside of science, collaborations across the country and around the world, and engagement with the general public on matters of public health and medicine.
Researchers can access, manipulate, and share Profiles content in new ways on the new site, including zooming in and out, rotating images, flipping through pages, searching the content of text, downloading, and accessing more information about the item (e.g. whether it is in the public domain). NLM is using the International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) to share items in NLM’s systems and beyond. Other institutions and researchers using the same image framework can add Profiles images and metadata to their own digital collections and compare and manipulate images held in different repositories. Profiles in Science is a work in progress. New content will continue to be added, as well as new ways to make collection materials available and accessible for researchers with a broad range of questions, using new tools and approaches to historical analysis. Explore the new site and learn more!