The great sandstone façade of the University of Sydney is a statement of commitment to the Western ideals of free enquiry and scholarship which have their roots in classical antiquity. Our founding fathers regarded the library as the heart of their new institution and endowed it liberally with their own collections of books. We are their fortunate heirs, and heirs too to the scholars of the renaissance, enlightenment and more recent periods who have made medicine what it is today.
In the Rare Book collection we can trace the emergence of ideas which transformed science, and with due humility recognise how little the doctors' dilemmas have changed. With the passing of time, history is already claiming many medical books published in the first century of the faculty's existence.
For this exhibition to mark the 150th anniversary of the foundation of the Medical Faculty 150 significant books were arranged in groups related to particular medical sciences or clinical specialties rather than in chronological order. Many are wonderful examples of the skills of artist and printer, others are distinguished by elegance of literary style but some speak to us more directly because of their simple production and plain language. It has been a thought provoking privilege to turn the pages and enter into the authors' vanished worlds.
Professor Yvonne Cossart
Discipline of Infectious Diseases and Immunology
Faculty of Medicine
University of Sydney