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Project Spotlight: Preserving Pasteur

Guest Authors: Robert O. Marlin, IV, Archivist, Truman G. Blocker Jr. History of Medicine Collections and Mira Green, Head of Technical Services, Moody Medical Library, UTMB

Drawing of Pasteur with rabbits

The National Network of Libraries of Medicine South Central Region’s Digital Preservation and Access (DiPA) Award enabled the Truman G. Blocker Jr. History of Medicine Collections (Blocker Collections) at the Moody Medical Library at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, TX to create a digital repository containing materials from the personal library of Louis Pasteur (1822-1895). The goal of this project was to increase the awareness and accessibility to the thoughts of one of the world’s most celebrated scientists through the digitization and translation of unique materials such as original letters, manuscripts, and a number of rare offprints of articles originally published in French medical and scientific journals.

The material covers a variety of topics: a description of the process for the “pasteurization” of wine; a plea to the French government for the reimbursement of 2000 francs for research paid for personally by Pasteur; and a request for funding to build a new bio-chemistry laboratory at the École Normale. The remaining items are: rare offprints that were prepared in editions of fewer than 100 copies, one of which covers his early work on crystals; and a five-page lecture given by Pasteur in 1850 in which he presented his research results on molecular dissymmetry.

The Louis Pasteur Collection has been added to the Blocker Collections website, and contains original handwritten letters and their translations that are accessible as viewable and downloadable PDF files. This site also displays additional documents including journal articles that date from 1861-1889. Included are two items written by Pasteur, Theories Des Germes, 1878 and La Maladie Des Vers A Soie, 1867. Also available on this page is a brief biography of Louis Pasteur with his portrait and additional links to original papers written in French. This information can be found using the navigational menu button for digital collections.

Images of items from an exhibit

In an effort to assist those interested in the life of Pasteur, considerable time was dedicated to compiling the Pasteur Bibliography of secondary resources. Only high-quality material covering all age groups was considered. Several works in the bibliography were also annotated including Patrice Debré’s monograph written for the 100 year anniversary of Pasteur’s death that offered the reader a helpful chronology and focused on Pasteur’s discoveries and the controversies surrounding his work.

The DiPA award enabled us to create a major exhibit utilizing as many original source documents from the Collection as possible. For the creation of the exhibit, accessibility, target audience, informative content, and aesthetics were of paramount importance. The overall concept for design and structure began with months of research transpiring into a timeline of influential events derived from the life and legacy of Pasteur. The timeline, as the design approach, allowed for the creation of various sized pieces containing unified graphical elements, imagery and descriptions, and informative content pertaining to each titled display panel measuring 36”x 36” in size.

Metadata was created for the collection by researching the individual(s) mentioned in the letters. Name authorities were researched and added accordingly. Subject headings were chosen from both the Library of Congress and MeSH headings.

The Pasteur Collection metadata and items were also added to our institutional repository in the Texas Digital Library in early April 2013. The permanent URL for the collection is The Texas Digital Library is indexed in Google as well as Google Scholar and the collection is already showing up in the results list when a search for Louis Pasteur is initiated. The collection statistics show that the highest number of views has been from the United States; however, Turkey, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, UK, Canada, Switzerland and Mexico show usage as well.

The ContentDM institutional repository was created and customized. The URL for the UTMB repository is Metadata and files were the same as the submission to the Texas Digital Library institutional repository.

Scholars across a variety of disciplines, including general history, may request the materials for publications, scholarly papers, presentations, and exhibits.

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