Preserving ancient knowledge

There is old knowledge passed down over many generations tucked away in historical books. Maintaining and looking after them means preserving this knowledge for posterity. However, some works are more severely threatened by decay than others: paper that contains comparatively high levels of acid was used to print books between 1850 and 1970. This paper dries out quicker, goes yellow and becomes fragile. This decay process can be stopped by de-acidifying the books.

The Jung Foundation together with the Hamburg Medical Council has been financing the mass de-acidifying of the Medical Association’s library stock since 2010 in a major project running over a planned ten years. These are books of importance to medical history, which contain original descriptions or are by renowned authors, for example. Special attention is being paid to works by Hamburg authors and those who refer to the Hanseatic city in their content, for example “About the cholera of 1892 in Hamburg and the precautionary measures” by Max von Pettenkofer dated 1893 or “About doctors and medicine in Hamburg hundreds of years ago” by Erick Brack from the year 1929.

The Medical Association’s library is mainly used by readers working in medical or science history. It is also accessible to the public.