Medicine and Health in Wales before the NHS


The Library is home to the largest collection of Welsh and Welsh interest printed works on medicine and health. There are over 6,500 items with the earliest dating from 1745. These include books on early medicines, herbal remedies, sanitary reports from medical officers of health, and hospital and asylum reports. Among the collection are the first editions of Nathaniel Williams' early herbal Pharmacoepia, early books on popular medicines  such as Pob Dyn yn Phisygwr Iddo ei Hun ac i'w Anifeiliaid Hefyd as well as book about the Physicians of Myddfai and the British Herbal or a British Herbalist by Nicholas Culpeper.

The collection also includes a complete set of annual reports and minutes of the King Edward VII Welsh National Memorial Association (WNMA), a pre-NHS all-Wales networked public health organisation established to treat tuberculosis in 1911 offering free healthcare.


The ‘Medicine and Health in Wales before the NHS’ project began in November 2018. It is funded by the Wellcome Trust. Over the next year we will be cataloging the collection and digitizing items published before 1900

You can access the collection via the Library catalog. There will be wider access to the digital copies on the Library's website. It is hoped that improving access to the collection will facilitate research into the medical humanities in Wales.

A number of outreach events will take place during the life of the project including informal workshops, presentations and a day conference. Please contact us for further information or follow us on Twitter @NLWPrintandMore.

Latest News


Read the project's latest blog about the campaign to eradicate Tuberculosis in Wales led by David Davies (1880 - 1944).

Medicine and Health Workshop

The first ‘History of Medicine in Wales’ workshop was held on 21 March at NLW, and it proved to be a dynamic and informative afternoon. Historians and academics, representatives from universities across Wales and medical societies came together to see the collection, learn about the project and discuss current research trends in the field.

Dr Diana Luft and Branwen Rhys gave papers, Dr Douglas Jones and Lorena Troughton talked about our printed medical collection and archives and Scott Waby provided an introduction to NLW’s innovative digitization processes. Here are some slides from the workshop presentations:

Save the Date

The second workshop will be held on 18 July at the National Library of Wales. The workshop is free but booking is essential. Please contact us if you would like to attend this event.

A one-day Conference on the History of Medicine and Health in Wales will take place on 22 November, 2019. Don't miss your first chance to see the Printed Medical Collection online.

Call for papers!

If you would like to submit a paper for this event, please contact us with an outline of your talk. We are requesting papers for 40 minute lecture or a 20 minute shorter informal session.
Closing date: 19 July.


Branwen Rhys
Email: branwen.rhys(at)
Phone: 01970 632996

Twitter: @NLWPrintandMore    #MedHistWales